Hi, a few months back a tow truck driver arrived to the scene of an accident I was involved in. He immediately looked all around at each vehicle, then he politely kept telling my mother and I that he'd take us home.
While in the car, he continuously told us he would fight the ticket, because anyone could tell my mother hadn't hit the vehicle in front. He then repeatedly told us about a great lawyer he always uses (Michael Wadler).
A few days ago, a few lawyers commented telling me that this is illegal. The tow truck driver that convinced us to use this lawyer was what you all call a runner. I was told to report this.
I can't find the post. Could someone give me more info. regarding this.
I read online that Texas doesn't do anything about this, so what would reporting him do?
For the record, I am not accusing the aforementioned lawyer of hiring runners. I'm simply trying to understand law, etc. after the information I was given a few days back. Thanks for the help everyone!
Personal Injury Lawyer
Well, your question is a really important one.
But let's start with a very key point: if the tow truck driver is merely recommending an attorney that the driver believes in, and is not getting compensated for doing so, I'd bet that there's absolutely nothing wrong with it. In fact, word of mouth from satisfied clients is the most valuable marketing a lawyer can have, in my opinion. So, merely by looking at what the driver/recommender does, we can't really tell all that much.
And that is part of the problem, too. Yep, runners are rampant in Texas and clients and justice suffer greatly as a result. But how do you tell a runner from somebody giving a heartfelt piece of advice?
Well, maybe you don't really have to. If you discuss instances that make you worry about if somebody is a runner with the State Bar (http://www.texasbar.com/AM/Template.cfm?Section=How_to_File_a_Complaint), they can start assembling data on any patterns they see. If Attorney John Doe gets one gripe, then that is very different than if he gets 6 and they all mention sending somebody to a hospital to pray with a person who has been in an accident. (Yes, that happens.)
There is a cool new law in Texas that lets a person sue their injury attorney if they were the victims of barratry (see the prayer example above). And these are lawsuits that, in the right hands, can do a lot of good for the justice system in Texas. For folks who think they might have been represented in an injury case after being induced by barratry, they should absolutely read reviews of injury attorneys for one they'd be comfortable discussing the details with thoughtfully.
Nice job posting such an important question! But, if AVVO lets you edit your post, please try to delete the name of the attorney as we don't know that the driver being a runner is any more likely than the driver just trying to help by mentioning the name of a lawyer that has earned his respect. And neither that lawyer nor any other would want you stepping in a defamation land mine if a quick edit (maybe with AVVO's help, if needed), will prevent any problems.
Now, in the case of the lawyer you mentioned, I don't think he or I have ever heard of each other before (there are a LOT of lawyers in Texas), but when I glance at his website and his State Bar profile, it sure doesn't feel to me like he's the type to be relying on runners. I'd personally be very comfortable giving him the benefit of the doubt. There just isn't anything that catches my eye that worries me and plenty that is reassuring.
Marc C. Lenahan
Lenahan Law, P.L.L.C.
2655 Villa Creek, Suite 204
Dallas, Texas 75234
National Crime Victim Bar Association
Texas Brain Injury Alliance
(formerly Brain Injury Association of Texas)
Car / Auto Accident Lawyer
Mr.Lenahan has given a very informative and detailed answer. Let me add this: As you may or may not know, there are all sorts of business networking groups around. For example, Rotary used to be more about business networking but is now more about public service, but there are pure business networking groups around.
If the tow truck driver owned his shop which included auto repair and was in such a network, I do not believe it would be illegal for him to refer you a lawyer in his business networking group.
The illegal, unethical situation is where the lawyer pays the runner cash. If two businesses are making mutual referrals it is not unethical, especially if the two business owners genuinely respect the other's services.
So, I have no idea what the true situation is in your case, but I just point out it is possible you have a situation in which the two truck driver was not disinterested but was also not a runner. Again, though, I have no idea what were the true facts in your case
Personal Injury Lawyer
Report the lawyer to the disciplinary board, and report the lawyer and tow truck driver to the police. There are many pathetic lawyers who do this, and it needs to be stopped.
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Car / Auto Accident Lawyer
If the tow truck driver receives compensation from the attorney for the referral, both the he and the attorney have committed the crime of barratry. If you have evidence of this, contact the State Bar of Texas.