“They think we’re dumb!” = Illegal Solicitors Are Targeting Southsiders by Martinez & Associates PLLC

Attorney Desi Martinez, Image Courtesy of Martinez & Associates PLLC

His daughter had just been in a motor vehicle crash on the Southside of San Antonio. She was scared, and she was physically in pain. Once he found out that his daughter was still alive, his cell phone rang. The call was from a telemarketing “patient advocate” from a non-descript telephone number, letting him know that he and his family had the right to seek medical attention. The telemarketing “patient advocate” would tell him what medical clinic and which attorney would represent him only if he agreed to go online and sign a document for his daughter.

Article by Attorney Desi Martinez, Martinez & Associates PLLC.

A severe thunderstorm had just ripped through town. All of her property had been devastated by heavy hail. Her home and vehicle windows were broken. She was waiting for the repairman to make it to her address within the next few days. She receives a call from an attorney. She didn’t ask to be called by an attorney. She ended up knowing the attorney from high school. What a coincidence! She had someone she felt she could trust now representing her against her homeowner’s insurance so that she could get all of her property repaired. The attorney would even drop his fees a little so that she would get more in her pocket when this was all over.

A day had passed since this grandfather was crashed into by a motor vehicle. He was walking slowly into his Southside home with his wife. The pain from the crash was affecting his gait. A car pulled up. An unannounced and uninvited man walked up to him, told him he was going to get his grandfather medical care for his car crash, and asked the grandfather to get into his car so he could take him to the medical clinic. This stranger said it would all be taken care of for the grandfather. He was rushed to a medical clinic, where he trustingly signed some papers that he didn’t understand. The grandfather had a “doctor” and an “attorney” for his crash.

These stories are all true. These stories are just a few of the hundreds of similar stories concerning San Antonians who are being illegally solicited by the hundreds daily. In 2022, nearly 40,000 car crashes were reported in the San Antonio area, and nearly 10,000 injuries were reported. The attorneys who attempted to solicit the people in our story are committing barratry. Barratry is illegal in the state of Texas!

The attorneys behind these schemes knowingly risk their law licenses and are breaking the law for profit. If anyone calls you or contacts you after a crash…it is illegal! Why are these attorneys willing to risk their freedom and license to practice the law? The reason is that NO ONE is currently holding them accountable. So, they will continue coming into the San Antonio market to make money from your heartache and injuries. However, what they do in the dark will soon come to light.

Barratry is the practice of illegally soliciting clients who need the services of an attorney. Texas lawyers are prohibited from initiating personal contact with potential clients who have not invited such contact. Texas Penal Code § 38.12 states that a person commits barratry if “with the intent to obtain an economic benefit,” the person: “solicits employment, either in person or by telephone for himself or another.” Barratry is punishable as a crime. There are also civil remedies for victims of barratry against the soliciting attorney. Texas law allows victims of barratry to collect $10,000 for each illegal phone call or in-person solicitation by a lawyer or his representative. Also, the attorney involved in the illegal scheme may lose their license to practice law in Texas if barratry is proven.

What’s worse, if you feel you are entitled to be compensated for suffering a legal wrong after being illegally solicited, think again. “We won’t pay a dime…if we believe that an injured person hired an attorney and barratry was involved, we are not honoring that person’s claim until we know whether barratry was involved or not”, says Paul Huckabay, General Counsel for Aggregate Haulers, one the preeminent trucking companies in the State of Texas. Several personal injury attorneys advertise they want to help you when you have been hit by a commercial vehicle. As valid as your claim may be, who represents you and how you found that attorney will matter if you want to be made whole from your legal claim.

Image Courtesy of Marinez & Associates PLLC

The attorneys committing barratry are making mistakes. The man in the first story was a medical professional. The man instantly knew that the person on the other line attempted to commit barratry and played their game until the end. The man discovered the name of the “medical facility” and the attorney to whom these “medical clinics” refer their patients. Once filed with the clerk’s office, lawsuits are public records, so the public will know who these clinics and law firms are.

“They think we are dumb!” says the lifelong Southsider man. “I don’t know if it’s because a majority of our parents speak Spanish, or we speak Spanish…but it’s insulting that they are preying on us, talking to us like we have to believe whatever they tell us!” “I can read. I have an advanced degree. I knew they were lying to me!” said the man.

However, as stated, several attorneys are attempting to use these illegal tactics to obtain clients. If you are confused about whether you are a victim of barratry, simply think of the direction in which the relationship started. It is not barratry if you attempted to contact the attorney and took the “street” in the attorney’s direction. If the clinic, attorney, telemarketer, or any person attempts to take the “street” in the direction towards your doorway and contacts you after a legal matter arises, it is barratry.

San Antonio grew more than any other city in the country in 2023, according to an article by David Lynch with Kens5 on May 17, 2024. A leisurely drive around San Antonio quickly reveals that this city is bombarded by personal injury advertisements. It’s no wonder that several out-of-town attorneys and a few local attorneys have taken the easy road in an attempt to gain a financial foothold in our beloved San Antonio. Don’t allow yourself to be a victim of barratry. Apart from the legal consequences for attorneys and the people involved in these schemes, your legal claim will be affected.

You don’t have to live with the consequences of an attorney lying to you. You have the right to speak to another legal professional of your choosing to assess whether you have been a victim of barratry.

Further, if you feel you have been a victim of barratry, do not hesitate to call the Texas Bar Association’s toll-free Grievance Information Hotline at 1-800-932-1900. For more information, please visit https://www.texasbar.com/Content/NavigationMenu/ForLawyers/GrievanceandEthics/SolicitationandBarratry/default.htm.

The information provided on this website/article does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; all information, content, and materials available on these pages are for general informational purposes only. Information on this website/article may not constitute the most up-to-date legal or other information. This website/article contains links to other third-party websites. Such links are only for the convenience of the reader, user, or browser.