Don’t let yourself be taken advantage of by unethical lawyers, their “investigators” or illegal service providers. Whether you were injured in a car accident, at work, or in a slip and fall accident—or even if you lost a loved one—you may be approached by an individual trying to persuade you to hire a law firm.
This kind of solicitation is illegal in most cases and it is known as barratry. Barratry puts unfair pressure on you during your most stressful time. A lawyer can lose their bar license and face criminal charges for barratry—but some do it anyway.
What Counts as Barratry?
Barratry typically involves a “runner” who approaches you about your case. These individuals can be deceptive and coercive. They have only one goal: to get you to sign up with a specific law firm so they can get a commission. Police officers, nurses, doctors, tow truck drivers, and body shop workers have all been known to act as runners. So have trusted individuals like funeral home directors and clergy.
They may slip you a lawyer’s card, make you promises, or even give you gifts to get your case. Anyone who tries to get you to hire a specific lawyer is likely getting a kickback. Ultimately, you are the one who pays their fee. It comes out of the money you win in your case. This money belongs to you.
At John Foy & Associates, we believe that you should have a lawyer you can trust. We are one of the most experienced and respected personal injury law firms in Atlanta. If you have been the victim of an unethical lawyer, we can help you. We may be able to help you get a full refund of all fees you paid to your previous lawyer, and we can help you get the full financial settlement you’re entitled to.
Are You a Victim of Barratry?
Many accident victims have already been scammed by illegal solicitation and they don’t even know it. You may be a victim of barratry if any of the following has happened to you:
- Did you receive a phone call from someone claiming that your family asked them to call you? Did they already know your family members’ names? Did your family later tell you that they never asked anyone to call?
- Did someone approach you at your loved one’s funeral? Did they claim to be an attorney or represent an attorney? Did they pressure you to sign a contract while you were still grieving?
- Did someone approach you while you were in the hospital? Did they claim to be an “investigator” or service provider, and ask questions about your injuries?
- Did a police officer at the accident scene convince you to call a lawyer? Did they pressure you to hire a particular attorney?
- Did a tow truck driver or car mechanic persuade you to call an attorney? Did they have a specific law office they recommended?
- Did your lawyer or someone acting on their behalf give you gifts to get you to sign?
Real lawyers do not offer gifts, signup incentives, or “bonus money” to get you to become a client. They don’t hire telemarketers to call accident victims uninvited. And they never approach you at sensitive times in the days following an accident.
Georgia’s Law on Illegal Solicitation
Lawyers in Georgia are required to wait 30 days from the time of an accident to call someone who is not a client of theirs. Soliciting a stranger before this time has elapsed is illegal solicitation. It is punished both by the State Bar of Georgia, which can take away an attorney’s license, and by Georgia state law.
- A lawyer can’t solicit you within 30 days of your accident. And they can never use coercive or deceptive tactics, no matter how long it’s been—including approaching you at a funeral or other sensitive time. They cannot keep harassing you if you’ve already said no.
- All of their written communications to you must be marked “ADVERTISEMENT” if you’re not already a client.
- Lawyers cannot pay someone to act as a “runner” and drum up clients. If the person approaching you is getting a commission, bonus, kickback, gift, or payment of any kind, the arrangement violates ethics rules.
- Lawyers cannot telemarket you or do in-person solicitation unless you have already sought their advice.
- A lawyer cannot even accept a client or a case if they have any reason to believe the above illegal activities were involved. They have to turn it down.
Lawyers who break these rules can be disbarred, losing the right to practice law altogether. This is the highest sanction the Bar Association can wield and it is considered a fair punishment for illegal solicitation.
State law also prohibits barratry. Since 2014, lawyers who practice barratry can face felony charges. They can face up to $100,000 in fines and spend time in prison. They may also have to refund you all of the fees you paid them.
You Can Get Your Money Back
Barratry is treated so seriously because it represents a conflict of interest. Your lawyer is supposed to be looking out for your interests at all times. Our entire court system depends on lawyers acting this way. When they don’t, it means they may not have served you well, and you are entitled to a full refund of any fees you paid.
You can fire your lawyer and seek your money back at any time:
- If you already won a settlement, you could keep it and get the full amount of your lawyer fees returned to you.
- If your case is still in progress, you can ask a legitimate law firm to take it over. Your old lawyer must turn over all documents. The new law firm can help you get the settlement you deserve and make sure you owe your previous lawyer nothing.
In some cases, you could also recover money for damages such as emotional pain & suffering from the previous lawyer.
Talk to a Trustworthy Personal Injury Lawyer in Georgia for Free
If you may have been the victim of illegal solicitation, you deserve to get to know what a real lawyer is like. Georgia personal injury lawyers John Foy & Associates are here to welcome you as an equal and help you pursue your case as an informed, respected client. We can help you get your money back, and pursue the full financial recovery that you deserve. Call us for a free consultation today.