New Article Published in Asia Today

Check out my new article titled “Why Hiring the Right Injury Lawyer can Make a Big Difference.” If you are not a subscribed of Arizona’s Asia Today newspaper, you can read the paper online at https://asiatodayaz.com/. My article is on Page 3 in the August 2021 issue. Stay tuned, there should be another article by me in the next month or two!

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Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney for a Car Accident: Question 2 – Does a Low Contingency Rate Mean More Money For Me?

Many lawyers, including myself, will frequently take personal injury cases on a contingency.  What this means is that the legal fee is contingent on the recovery at the end of the case.  Typically, the client is only responsible to pay legal fees if there is a recovery and the legal fee is determined by a percentage of the total recovery.  Many seem to believe that the lower the contingency rate a law firm is willing to charge means the client will end up getting more money.  However, this is a fallacy as the existence and amount of recovery will typically have much more influence on how much you get paid rather than the contingency fee rate.  I do not like the term “discount” attorney because when it comes to a contingency fee, how much the client can afford to pay an attorney is immaterial since the client is not paying legal fees prior to recovering.  If a good attorney recovers much more than the “discount” attorney for the same type of case then the client is going to be left with much more despite the higher contingency fee.

Another consideration regarding contingency fees is to determine whether the fee is based on the actual amount of work.  For example, if a discount attorney is offering a 25% contingency fee but refuses to litigate cases, then the 25% contingency fee is not such a good deal.  Some cases may require litigation to properly resolve the case if the other side denies liability even when a case has merit.  In many of my cases, the contingency fee will be depending on the stage of the case and amount of work that is required to properly pursue a claim.  Despite many cases requiring me to litigate in Court, if a case can be appropriately resolved without litigation, my contingency fee is typically much less. 

Before hiring an attorney on a contingency, look carefully at the fee agreement.  Is the attorney differentiating the fee based on the amount of work completed? If an attorney is charging a 25% fee regardless of the work, how much investment will they really put into your case?  How often does that attorney even go to litigation? Some large insurance companies will not reasonably settle a valid injury claim unless you proceed with litigation.  As a result, hiring an attorney that rarely litigates cases may result in a small recovery if a case is prematurely settled.

Prior to hiring a personal injury attorney, you should make sure you hire an attorney you trust and feel comfortable with.  Many personal injury attorneys, including myself, offer free consultations.  If you or someone you know has been injured such as in a car accident, call me at 480-927-3700 for a free consultation.

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Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney for a Car Accident: Question 1 – Do I Even Need an Attorney?

Car Crash PhotoThere is unfortunately a lot of incorrect or misleading information particularly when it comes to personal injury attorneys. This is the first post of a series where I plan to provide an honest look at some important considerations when hiring a personal injury attorney.

Before we even get into considerations when selecting an attorney. There is an overarching question that must be asked. Do I Even Need an Attorney to Handle my Car Accident Case? The short answer is yes as I explain below.

Unfortunately, among some members of the community, personal injury attorneys have developed a bad reputation. It seems with injury attorneys more so than other areas of practice there is a bevvy of ridiculous advertisements and gimmicky nicknames that attorneys use to market themselves. As a result, some skepticism before hiring an attorney is warranted. While there may be a lot of bad attorneys out there, hiring a good attorney can substantially help properly resolve your accident case.

Whenever you have any sort of bodily injured and someone other than you is at fault, it is almost always a good idea to have an attorney working for you. When you are injured, it is stressful enough dealing with your injuries and seeking treatment. Adding an attempt to resolve your bodily injury claim with an insurance company on your own can be daunting. Hiring a good attorney like myself is absolutely essential to reduce the stress and make sure your injury claim is properly handled.

When I am consulted on an accident case or really any of my practice areas, my goal is to be upfront and honest with clients so my client is well-informed before hiring me. There are several instances where I may tell a potential client that hiring me might not make sense. I want to make sure my client is well-informed before he or she agrees to retain me. I frequently take injury cases on a contingency, meaning my client does not pay any legal fees unless there is a recovery. While this means I would get paid out of a client’s potential recovery, the cost of legal fees is frequently offset by getting a good monetary resolution for my clients. In other words, on cases with a recovery my client will frequently get paid more than he or she would have even after attorney fees. Thus, why deal with the stress of handling a case on your own and risk messing it up or not getting the full value you deserve?

So Tip #1 is this: even if you do not ultimately hire an attorney, at least consult a good personal injury attorney before deciding to handle things yourself. My consultation is free so there really is no harm in a quick phone call to see if I can be of assistance: 480-927-3700.

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We’ve Moved!!!

The Maerowitz Law Firm, LLC has moved! Our new phone number is 480-927-3700.

We have grown our office to a larger space. During the pandemic, attorney Matt Maerowitz is still offering free consultations on criminal and personal injury matters. We are able to accommodate virtual meetings as well to avoid in-person contact during these times.

Our New Contact Information Is:
The Maerowitz Law Firm, LLC
4001 E. Mountain Sky Ave., Suite 107
Phoenix, AZ 85044
Phone: 480-927-3700

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Arizona Supreme Court Issues Important Order for Court Transition Due to Coronavirus

Given the concern regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, courts around Arizona have largely avoided all in-person hearings.  Many matters previously set for April and May have been converted to telephonic, video, or continued.  On Friday May 8, the Arizona Supreme Court issued Administrative Order No. 2020-75 providing very important rules and guidelines for Arizona courts.  Starting in June many courts will be resume in-person hearings subject to several measures limiting measures to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

If you have a pending criminal case in court to attend to, there are a few very important things to keep in mind for the next several months:

  1. If you were scheduled to appear in court this month (May 2020), there is a good chance your hearing was converted to telephonic or continued to another day. Call your attorney to see if you still need to appear. If you do not have an attorney, call the court.  It is also probably not too late to hire an attorney as the Supreme Court’s administrative order advises that continuances are to be liberally granted during this time.
  2. If you are at high risk of illness from COVID-19 or have any symptoms, diagnosis, or exposure to COVID-19, immediately notify the court prior to appearing. The Supreme Court has advised lower courts to accommodate an alternative means of appearing or continue your court date in order to protect you and the public during this time.
  3. If you are going to court, wear a mask prior to entering the building. A mask or other face-covering is required by order of the Supreme Court.
  4. If you have an attorney, your attorney may be able to waive your presence so you do not need to appear.  During this time, courts are much more likely to allow an attorney to waive a client’s presence as courts are limiting the number of people entering. However, it is very important you discuss this with your attorney in advance.  Do not assume your attorney is waiving your presence without speaking to him or her.

While the above may provide helpful guidance to members of the public, there are numerous rules and regulations outlined in the Arizona Supreme Court Order that may affect your rights and responsibilities.   You can view the full Arizona Supreme Court Order here: Arizona Supreme Court Admin Order No. 2020 – 75.

If you are facing criminal charges, it is highly recommended you consult an attorney immediately.  Call criminal defense attorney Matt Maerowitz for a free consultation at 480-465-4032.

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I Got Into an Arizona Car Accident – What Do I Do?

car-accidentBeing involved in a car accident can be a traumatic experience no matter what the circumstances are. It is important to do the best you can to stay calm and follow these simple tips. The below tips are intended for the vast majority of auto-accidents not involving serious physical injury:

 

  1. Stay Calm and Do Not Admit Fault: Arizona is a comparative fault state meaning that liability is distributed among all persons involved in the accident based on what percent each person is at fault. As a result, it is important not to admit fault as there may have been circumstances regarding the other driver that contributed to the accident. Obviously, if the accident clearly is your fault it is okay to admit it in fairness to the other driver and so any insurance claims get promptly resolved; however, if there is any question or you are unsure…don’t do it!
  2. Exchange Information with Other Driver: For any accident involving injury or vehicle damage, Arizona law requires that at a minimum you provide your name, address, and vehicle registration number. It is important to wait for law enforcement to arrive to make sure all duties are complied with prior to leaving the scene.
  3. Take Pictures: As your claim is presented to the other parties’ insurance company and possibly litigated, photos taken while at the scene can be extremely helpful in describing the accident. It is important to take photos of the areas of damage of not just your car but any other vehicle involved in the collision.
  4. Gather Witness Information: If there are any potentially favorable witnesses on the scene, gather their contact information as they may be able to help you out later on.
  5. Contact the Police: If there is any meaningful property damage, police will fill out an accident report and write a brief narrative of what they believe happened after talking to everyone involved. This accident report will provide an initial opinion about who is at fault based on the officer’s observations and discussions. The police may also cite one or more involved persons based on this liability determination. Even if your car does not need a tow, remain on the scene until the police tell you it is okay to leave and provide the report number.
  6. Do Not Delay Getting Necessary Medical Treatment: If you suffered any physical injuries whatsoever, even if it is slight discomfort, it is important to have a medical exam to confirm what if any treatment is necessary. Do not delay as insurance companies may use a delay in treatment as a way to minimize your injuries.
  7. Contact an Attorney: I hate to make a plug here, but I cannot stress it enough how helpful the right attorney can be in an accident case. Some people do not properly realize what they are entitled to and the information needed to correctly process a claim with insurance and/or litigate it. Call an attorney to make sure you are doing everything correctly.

If you or somebody you know is involved in a car accident, call attorney Matt Maerowitz at 602-912-5897 for a free consultation.

Image courtesy of Naypong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Arizona Supreme Court Holds Smell of Marijuana Alone Sufficient for Probable Cause

Marijuana law is one of the most rapidly evolving areas of law nationwide. Half of the states, including Arizona, have legalized marijuana for medical purposes. Many of these new legalization laws have been enacted within the past ten years, which has resulted in a lack of historical precedent and court confusion on how to interpret the laws.

There had previousMarijuana Hearlingly been a misconception that Arizona courts have decided the odor alone is not sufficient to support a search. However, there was actually an appellate split where two divisions of the Arizona Court of Appeals dealt with very similar issues, but came out with seemingly opposite results. In the earlier State v. Sisco, 238 Ariz. 229, (App. 2d Div. 2015) the court decided that the scent of marijuana alone does not support a search, whereas in State v. Cheatham, 237 Ariz. 502, (App. 1st Div. 2015) decided that odor alone can support a search. Although these two July 2015 cases had some arguable distinctions, the Arizona Supreme Court reviewed both decisions and provided clarity.

Today, the Arizona Supreme Court has decided that notwithstanding the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA), the odor of marijuana alone is sufficient for an officer to have probable cause to search. Personally, I think the Court got it wrong and goes against the intent of AMMA. I think this decision detrimentally affects all Arizonans.

For example, the police can now secure a warrant to search your apartment if the police smell marijuana from outside. They might do this even if it turns out that the smell of marijuana is coming from a neighboring apartment but police confuse it for yours. I wish I could say this is such an extreme example, but this is pretty close to what actually happened in Sisco where the police first searched the wrong unit. 238 Ariz. at 232. What’s worse is you might have your apartment searched when the smell is coming from your neighbor who might actually be using marijuana under AMMA as prescribed.

The Supreme Court did note that the odor alone standard constitutes “probable cause unless” in that law enforcement officers may have evidence of AMMA-compliant use or possession that might dispel probable cause ordinarily established by just the smell of marijuana. However, in practice, I cannot imagine this making any difference. Short of a patient or caregiver providing an AMMA card it is hard to imagine what type of evidence officers might consider demonstrating marijuana use consistent with AMMA.
The only language within the decision that gives me hope is that the Arizona Supreme Court notes in Paragraph 16 of State v. Sisco that “if Arizona eventually decriminalizes marijuana, our analysis and conclusion in this context might well be different.”

The Arizona Supreme Court’s opinions may be viewed at the following links:

Click to access CR150265PR.pdf


Click to access CR150286PR.pdf

Image courtesy of Zuzuan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Be Careful what you Post! Once Published Online, It’s Not So Private

Worldwide WebDeep into the information age of the internet, it amazes me how easily personal information can be accessed from a few keystrokes and clicks. I feel strongly about the importance of privacy; however, information on the internet is becoming increasingly less private. What is published on the internet can often be accessed by third parties whether you like it or not. As a result, it is very important to exercise restraint when posting information online.

Even without having to hire a private investigator, I often research the opposing parties and witnesses and you’d be surprised what I’ve occasionally found on the web to benefit my clients! What people sometimes forget is that although posts on social media sites like Facebook are intended to be semi-private, it normally is not all too difficult to access them. For better or worse, Arizona also provides the public with access to many criminal and civil records.

Quite frankly, I have also encountered instances where the opposition has tried to do the same against my clients. While that photo of double fisting beers may be all fun and games among your Facebook friends, it may impact you when a legal case is pursued for or against you. Also once it is on the internet, it goes into the public sphere and sometimes can be difficult to remove. Everyone has heard about employers finding prospective hires on Facebook; however, it goes well beyond that. Next time you post anything online, ask yourself whether you would feel comfortable if all of your present or future adversaries saw that content. If not, then the internet isn’t the place for it!

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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February Myth of the Month – Make My AZ Traffic Ticket Go Away!

A lot of people, particularly those outside of Arizona, call my office in hopes that I can make a civil traffic ticket go away. Although I am not familiar with the law outside of Arizona, I have heard of other jurisdictions offering an option to plead adjudication on a traffic ticket, which more or less dismisses the charge upon payment of a fee. In Arizona, the closest thing to get a dismissal of a civil traffic violation is defensive driving school, which is a four-hour course that can be taken online.

Woman Driving
Although I have a strong understanding of this area of law, I rarely get involved in civil traffic violations because successful completion of traffic school is a way to basically ensure dismissal. I understand this may seem contrary to last month’s myth, but I pride myself on being open and upfront on the value I can provide. Nonetheless, there are certain time and eligibility restrictions of traffic school that may warrant hiring an attorney. For example, if someone has a commercial driver’s license (CDL), a civil moving violation has very serious consequences even if cited while driving a personal vehicle. A CDL holder is generally not eligible for defensive driving school and risks losing his or her job if found responsible.

What I have also found is that sometimes someone thinks all they have is just a simple traffic ticket when it is actually something much more serious. I have dealt with several people charged with excessive speed or driving on a suspended license, and until calling me do not quite realize this is a criminal matter. For criminal speeding, driving school is entirely discretionary so hiring an attorney may help in navigating options and presenting your case.

If you have been charged with a traffic violation, call defense attorney Matt Maerowitz for a free consultation at 602-912-5897.
Image courtesy of Toa55 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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January Myth of the Month – I Don’t Need an Attorney

Legal Advice PhotoOn an earlier post, I talked spoke about Miranda and that the officer’s failure to read Miranda rights on arrest is ordinarily not enough to dismiss the case.  However, even when a person is told the right to an attorney, a lot of people will still not exercise the right!  This is shocking because immediately consulting with an attorney, even while still under investigation by the police, can be extremely helpful.  So this leads me to this month’s myth: I don’t need an attorney. If charged with a crime, even a misdemeanor, you can almost always benefit from having an attorney.

Some attorneys will use over-the-top scare tactics—for example, telling prospective clients that they can expect six months jail for a regular first offense DUI.  Although the consultation is “free” these attorneys make sure the client doesn’t leave without paying over $5,000 for continued representation…or else!  Although a great way to secure business, this tactic is completely unreasonable and prevents the client from making a truly informed choice.

Because of a few bad attorneys doing it all wrong, I understand why some people accused of the crime are hesitant to have a consultation.  However, the truth is a brief 30-60 minute consultation with a knowledgeable attorney is incredibly valuable.  There can be a lot going on that is overwhelming and having an attorney by your side is necessary to not only help defend your case, but keep you well-informed.

If charged with a crime, call defense attorney Matt Maerowitz for a free consultation at 602-912-5897.

Image courtesy of by Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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