Barratry can be identified in two forms within an admiralty context and seamen should be aware. The first is the act of barratry by a crewmember. This refers to a fraudulent act committed by the master of a vessel or a member of the crew that results in damage to the vessel or its cargo. Barratry in this context can include desertion of the vessel, illegal scuttling and theft by a crewmember. Act of barratry by a crewmember can often result in injury to other members of the vessel's crew or third parties thus creating a cause of action under the Jones Act or General Maritime Law.
The second form of barratry that injured seaman need to consider is the act or practice of directly contacting injury victims in an effort to solicit legal representation. The laws of the separate states prohibit barratry by attorneys. The Rules of Professional Conduct governing the practice of law forbid direct contact with an individual based on knowledge of an event resulting in injury or loss.
You should be leery of attorneys who contact you directly following an injury or other incident on the job. Any attorney who appears at the hospital or calls you or a family member at home is breaking the law. In other cases, a "runner", or someone working for an attorney who is looking to avoid the barratry rules may contact you. However, the use of runners to contact accident and injury victims is still barratry. Although the attorney may not have personally picked up the phone to call you, they have directed and paid someone to do so. Additionally, it is illegal for attorneys to pay non-lawyers for the referral of cases. Use of runners violates this rule of ethics because the attorneys are paying these individuals to seek out leads and contact individuals for the purpose of securing a deal for legal representation of the victim.
Referral of an attorney without the exchange of money is not wrong in any way and neither is lawyer advertising.
Does it make sense to hire a crooked attorney who violated the rules of ethics with regard to your case? If the attorney is crooked he may behave like a crook towards your money also. Be apprehensive about these practices and the attorneys involved.
Following an injury or death, you need representation from attorneys you can trust to provide the level of representation you need and deserve and perhaps more importantly to do the right thing for you. How can you trust an attorney to "do the right thing" when they cannot even stay within the rules for obtaining cases?
In choosing a lawyer, you should rely on those firms who are secure enough in their representation that they let their experience and reputation speak for them. You should avoid attorneys who rely on breaking the law to obtain their cases.
Call the Ogletree Abbott Law Firm at 1-800-JonesAct instead of the law firm that pays people to "sign you up". Report lawyers and their "runners" for this criminal violation to the appropriate district attorney's office for criminal prosecution.
Let Us Help You
No matter where you live, the lawyers and attorneys at the Ogletree Abbott Law Firm can help you get the help you need. If you would like, a lawyer or an attorney can contact you to answer your questions. There is no obligation and the initial phone call is always free of charge. Call toll free 1-800-JonesAct (1-800-566-3722) or send us an email. Call a firm that does not practice barratry today.