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11 Costly Mistakes to Avoid When Hiring a Criminal Law Attorney

Mistake #1: Hiring an attorney without extensive experience in the field of criminal law.

Mistake #2: Hiring an attorney who is not licensed to practice law before all state and federal courts in your state, as well as before the United States Court of Appeals and

the U.S. Supreme Court.

Mistake #3: Hiring an attorney who is not a member of professional associations such as the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, American Bar Association and Association of Trial Lawyers of America, as well as the trial lawyers and bar associations from your state.

Mistake #4: Hiring an attorney who isn’t honest in explaining his fees and what’s included upfront.

Mistake #5: Hiring an attorney without knowing who will represent you in court.

Mistake #6: Hiring an attorney who you don’t feel comfortable with or someone who you don’t feel confident in his abilities to assist you.

Mistake #7: Hiring an attorney you don’t trust.

Mistake #8: Hiring the lowest priced attorney.

Mistake #9: Hiring an attorney who isn’t upfront about the merits of your case.

Mistake #10: Hiring an attorney who doesn’t have an excellent reputation with his clients and the entire legal community.

Mistake #11: Hiring an attorney who doesn’t take the time to listen carefully to your needs.

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What To Do in the Case of a Car Accident

South Africa has a high incidence of road accidents and as many as 90% of drivers can expect to be involved in a motor vehicle accident at some stage in their lives and everyone should be prepared in any event. Fortunately there are dedicated car accident lawyers and personal injury attorneys to protect our interests.

Apart from costly damages to the motor vehicle, there is a very real threat of extensive injury or even death to the people involved in the accident, whether pedestrians, passengers or drivers. Personal injury attorneys will, first and foremost, assist in ascertaining who should be held liable for the accident and what claims, if any, can be established against the guilty party.

Ensure you appoint a top flight law firm

There are dedicated car accident attorneys and personal injury lawyers to deal with all aspects of an accident. It is up to the driver or injured party to approach a reputable law firm for the right kind of assistance and advice.

As with all accidents, it is imperative to remain calm; bring your car to a stop if it is in motion and move it completely off the road if necessary. At this stage, it is critical to quickly and calmly determine the extent of any bodily injuries and to call the emergency services if necessary.

Gather the facts

Once the damages to the motor vehicles have been assessed, make sure you collect all the relevant details of the driver and any witnesses at the scene of the accident - they may be called on to appear in court should the case be contested. Information should include

Names Addresses Phone numbers ID numbers A description of the offending vehicle Insist on the vehicle ID number of the car The licence plate number

It is crucial that these details are handed over to your car accident attorney as soon as possible.

Do not, under any circumstances, discuss the accident with anyone else apart from the police and your car accident or personal injury attorney. It is often easy to admit liability or fault when in shock, so the tried and tested rule of thumb is simply to keep ‘mum’.

It’s a good idea to take photographs if you have a camera phone, or to make a quick sketch, of where the occupants of both cars were seated as well as where each car was on the road at the time of the accident, including the direction of travel. Make a clear note of the date and time of the accident as well as the prevailing weather conditions. This can prove invaluable should the case go to court.

File an accident report

If the police have not been called to the scene, it is imperative to report the accident at your nearest police station, regardless of the severity of the collision. Remember to get hold of both a case number and a copy of the police report, if possible. These items are mandatory information in any motor vehicle accident claim and will be critical information for your car accident lawyer.

Hereafter, it’s a matter of contacting a top flight law firm specialising in car accidents or personal injury and leaving it in the hands of the experts.

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6 Crucial Questions to Ask Before You Hire a Criminal Law Lawyer

Question #1: How much experience do you have specifically in the field of criminal law?

Some lawyers accept just about any case that comes their way, and then they find another attorney to handle it in return for some of the money recovered. You’ll get better results with an attorney whose only focus is on criminal law.

A criminal lawyer with extensive experience will understand how to aggressively represent you in and out of state and federal court rooms. In addition, you’ll likely get an accurate estimate for the length of your case and its strong and weak points.

Question #2: What are your qualifications?

You’ll want to find a criminal law lawyer who is licensed to practice before state and federal courts within your state, as well as the United States Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Question #3: What professional associations do you belong to?

Involvement with professional associations helps demonstrate a lawyer’s commitment to the legal system. Some favorable associations include the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, American Bar Association and Association of Trial Lawyers of America. Also, look for attorneys who are members of the trial lawyers and bar associations from your state.

You may also want to seek out lawyers who are members of the Million Dollar Advocate Forum, an organization whose membership is limited to attorneys who have obtained settlements or judgments of $1 million or more.

Question #4: Will you handle my case or will you assign the case to an assistant?

Some law firms use senior lawyers to bring in cases and then assign the cases to assistants. You want an experienced criminal law lawyer handling your case.

Question #5: What are the fees for using your services?

Your attorney should be upfront about the merits of your case and fee. During your initial consultation, you should find out what your case will cost. A flat fee agreement will ensure there are no hidden charges.

Question #6: (Ask yourself this final question.): Do you trust the lawyer?

Find out what reputation your lawyer has with clients and the legal community. In addition, make sure your lawyer takes significant time to listen to you carefully, take notes and read your file thoroughly. Let your lawyer show you that he truly cares about the outcome of your case.

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Frederick D. Paoletti, Jr. is the founding principal of Paoletti & Gusmano Attorneys at Law, a criminal defense and personal injury firm located in Bridgeport, Connecticut. For more articles related to protecting yourself during personal injury and criminal situations, please visit


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