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Author: Jon Montagna

Common Courtroom Mistakes: Legal Representation

If you’ve got a legal hearing or trial coming up, you may think you can save yourself some time and money by representing yourself. We at Montagna Klein Camden are here to tell you why you should think twice before approaching that bench.

Every case, no matter how simple it may seem, is filled with complex nuances and subtleties. It is important to hire a lawyer specific to your case, someone who understands the complicated nature of the courtroom. Here are a few of the most common mistakes made by those brave (and foolhardy) enough to represent themselves.


Legal cases are comprised mostly of paperwork, so it is vital that it be filled out correctly. Often, when a citizen decides to represent his or her self, omissions are made by accident. Failure to sign paperwork, failure to include appropriate documents, for459960373getting filing fees or paying the wrong amount – these mistakes are entirely avoidable, but are tricky and can cost the citizen the case.


Is is very important, and often overlooked, to respond to all notices from the court within a reasonable time frame. The clerk of the court also must be updated on all changes of address, contact information, etc. There are very specific guidelines related to sending information to the court, such as using only the court-approved cover sheet for faxes. Failure to adhere to the proper guidelines will slow your case, and perhaps even cause it to be thrown out.


There are specific circumstances in which witnesses are and are not allowed. If you do have witnesses, make certain they are a legal adult who speaks fluent English and is aware of the circumstances of your case. Children should generally not be called to the courtroom to testify, as the Judge may prefer to hear their comments in a less intimidating venue (such as an office, with the court reporter present).

Other Common Mistakes

  • Failure to refer to the Judge as “Your Honor”
  • Providing “the other side” with your court documents
  • Failure to mail documents

There are many pitfalls to a legal proceeding. That’s why it is in your best interest to hire a professional. Contact the legal team at Montagna Klein Camden today, and avoid these common mistakes. Schedule your free consultation today, and streamline your legal experience.

Fact or Fiction?

Everyone loves a great criminal thriller, a cop show, a forensic mystery. Many people may go so far as to jokingly refer to themselves as “legal experts,” due to the hours logged “binge watching” such programs. However, we at Montagna Klein Camden are here to assure you that there is no such thing as a true “Legal Expert.” There are many discrepancies between real-life lawyers and the powerhouses who dominate the courtrooms on television. Take our little quiz below and see if you can tell the fact from the fiction.

1. Any Lawyer Can Practice Any Area of Law.hand

One of the main discrepancies between real life and television is the lack (or rather abundance) of practice areas. On television and in movies, lawyers seem like experts…on everything. They know all there is to know about each and every aspect of the law – and practice them all, too.

FICTION: Real lawyers, such as the ones at Montagna Klein Camden, have specific areas of law in which we practice. For instance, our partner John H. Klein specializes in Worker’s Compensation and Social Security Disability while our partner Jon J. Montagna focuses on Personal Injury and Maritime Law.

2. Attorneys and lawyers make tons of money and spend it (along with all their time) at fancy restaurants and VIP clubs.

Another Hollywood presumption is that all lawyers make the same substantial salaries, and live the same extravagant lifestyles. The truth is that while some lawyers certainly earn significant wages, others pull in far less. The income of an attorney depends on his or her position in the company, areas of practice and even length of time employed, along with many other factors. Additionally, law school results in student loans, just like any other career education. Many attorneys are struggling to pay off their school loans, just like you.

FACT: However, many attorneys might find themselves spending an inordinate amount of time at aforementioned restaurants or social events. The reasons for such appointments are likely unexpected: meetings, retreats or tickets through the firm for a client’s event, etc.

3. Drama in the office, passion in the stairwell and unexpected revelations in the courtroom!

Sensationalized programs and theatrical features present the legal profession as lots of whirlwind activity: rushing from a hearing at the courthouse to the jail to grab a quick confession to lunch with friends then back to the court for a secret tryst in the broom closet before a trial in which everyone is to blame and somebody gets shot.

In reality, a day in the life of a lawyer mainly consists of sitting in front of a computer screen, just like the rest of the working world. We type up memos and briefs (many of which are anything but brief!) and we probably take some work home at night, too. That’s not to say that some of the drama is spot-on, or at least, misplaced. Rather than take place at work, any drama is more likely to come in the form of a loved one who has been disappointed by the absence of the lawyer in their lives.

4. Cases are often closed on the same day/week/year of which they were opened.

FICTION: Many cases take YEARS to close.

5. “Lawyering Up” is only done by the guilty.

In truth, being questioned by detectives would likely frighten anyone. Asking for a lawyer is not something that is only done by the “bad guy,” it is also done by the cautious, the scared and even the innocent.

FICTION: On television, asking for a lawyer essentially ends the investigation, which is why the tv police use delay tactics of ever-increasing insanity to prevent such a request.

6. DNA, Forensics and Physical evidence offer irrefutable proof of what has happened.

While physical evidence is never something to be ignored, witness testimony is often more powerful in real life.

7. The Bad Guy Always Confesses.


8. Lawyers are saints…or demons.

This is, of course, dependent upon the person behind the law degree. Just like a superhero, lawyers can use their powers for good or evil. We at Montagna Klein Camden choose to use ours for YOU. Call today for a free legal consultation with the real life lawyers who mean business.


Personal Injury Lawsuit Delays

Filing a lawsuit is never fun (unless you’re an attorney) but there are often inexplicable delays to the process that can feel very frustrating. Montagna Klein Camden wants you to know the steps of filing a Personal Injury lawsuit, and understand the numerous causes of potential delays. We always fight for you and your case, but sometimes there are inevitable setbacks that even Ben Matlock couldn’t have foreseen!

Before the lawsuit is filed, your Montagna Klein Camden attorney must investigate your claim. Research is an essential aspect of filing any legal motion, particularly one with potentially significant rewards. We will need time to review your medical history and status, accident reports, statements by witnesses, insurance information and more. Obtaining these materials often takes time in and of itself, lengthening the process considerably. It may take up to a month for attorneys to complete the research and investigation stages leading up to filing a Personal Injury lawsuit.

After receiving and reviewing all the relevant information, your Montagna Klein Camden attorney must wait for your Maximum Medical Improvement, or for you to heal as much as you are able. Obviously, this process cannot be rushed or hurried, but it is an integral step in determining the value of your case. There is no fixed time for this step as it is fully dependent on your body, your injuries, your recovery.459960373

During this healing time, however, there is one thing we Personal Injury attorneys are able to do, and that is to try and settle your case. By sending what we call a “Demand Letter,” we alert the defendant’s legal representative that we are planning to file a Personal Injury lawsuit, and offer them the opportunity to settle.

Essentially, the Demand Letter says “Give my client $X or we file a lawsuit!”

This step is extremely important. If, after 30 days, no settlement has been reached, then you and your case have a right to a “Bad Faith Claim.” 30 days is considered a “reasonable” amount of time in which to review a claim and respond to it. When an insurance company fails to settle within that 30 days, the company may become responsible for paying the insured’s judgement amount.

We at Montagna Klein Camden want to be sure we have explored every avenue of compensation and left every window of opportunity open, so we ask our clients to bear with us during this interminable 30 day waiting period.

After your lawsuit has been filed, there may yet be many delays and postponements. This is not due to a lack of productivity on the part of your Montagna Klein Camden Personal Injury attorney; rather it is a reflection of the number of people involved. In order to speak with your doctor, we will have to find openings in the schedules of doctor, lawyer and client.

Remember how long you sat in the waiting room at your last doctor’s checkup? Imagine requiring an hour of that doctor’s time, and you can begin to understand the snags that often occur. These scheduling delays can easily eat up months, and even after the initial discussions have taken place there are still hearing dates, possible mediation and eventually a trial date.

Trial Delays can take the longest of all. This is for a number of reasons, one of which is the very nature of a Personal Injury case. Personal Injury lawsuits are Civil cases, which means that they fall below Criminal cases in terms of priorities. Cases on which lives may depend, or victims may have been traumatized will always take precedence over Civil cases, which are often more concentrated on freedoms.

Trial dates are often set months from the hearing, occasionally even a year in advance. This may sound exasperating, but worse still is the likelihood of your case getting bumped off the daily docket by another case. Dockets are fluid, always changing and shifting. Your trial date may be moved several times, which can feel personal, but we assure you it is not. There is nothing to be done at this stage but await your court date, and prepare.

Continuances are an all-too-common practice in the courtroom. Even after you’ve made it to your trial date, there is no guarantee that things won’t get postponed yet again.

Although disheartening, these delays are simply one piece of the puzzle that is Personal Injury law. If you’ve been in an accident or have otherwise been injured and think you may have a Personal Injury case, contact the Personal Injury attorneys at Montagna Klein Camden in downtown Norfolk. We can’t speed up the process of these always-lengthy lawsuits, but we can assure you that your case is being handled with care and focus.

Call today for your free consultation with one of our experienced Personal Injury Attorneys.

Red Light Laws

Every day, your life is affected byThinkstockPhotos-123377647 (1) them. You are constantly under their watchful eye, in danger of one misstep, one slip-up, because you know that if they find you, they’ll make you pay.

Although everybody knows about the existence of red light traffic cameras, most people don’t spare a second thought for them after they’ve reached their destination. But red light traffic cameras are here to stay, and as such, we should all learn some basic information about them.

Luckily for you, the legal professionals at Montagna Klein Camden are here to lay down the light laws.

  • Does the red light traffic camera record all the time?
    • No. The cameras only record when a vehicle has crossed into the intersection.
  • What if the light changes to red while I’m in the intersection?
    • You will not be penalized for entering the intersection until 0.5 seconds after the traffic light has turned red.
  • What if I turn right on red at a red light traffic camera intersection?
    • As long as you come to a complete stop at each red light before your turn, you should be just fine.
  • Who determines whether a violation has occurred in the videos recorded by red light traffic cameras?
    • The footage is reviewed by a sworn police officer.
    • Approximately 40% of the videos reviewed are deemed violations.
  • What happens if an Emergency vehicle or funeral procession runs a red light?
    • Special circumstances will be dismissed by reviewing officer.
    • Violations generated by Emergency vehicles will be reviewed by officer.
  • What kind of penalties will I receive for running a traffic light that is monitored by a traffic camera?
    • You will receive a Civil Penalty fine of $50. You may receive 3 photos of your offense as well as a citation in the mail, depending upon the status of the information you have on file at the DMV.
    • The traffic offense will NOT be reported to the DMV or insurance companies, and does NOT count as a probation violation.
  • What can I do to contest my fine?
    • Call Montagna Klein Camden first to schedule your free consultation.
    • Visit to view the video of your traffic violation.
    • Request a hearing at your local General District Court.

And for any other auto accident or personal injury issues, don’t hesitate to contact the law firm of Montagna Klein Camden and schedule your free consultation today.

Pothole Problems

153720971As the last of the snow melts away and the sun emerges once again to warm the sands and streets of Norfolk and Virginia Beach, citizens rejoice! T-shirts, shorts and sandals are dug out from closets, car tops are pulled down and winter coats are tossed aside in appreciation of sunny days and warmer weather. But there is a new danger, left behind as a reminder of those cold, dark days.

The streets and roads of Norfolk and Virginia Beach are now riddled with massive pot holes.

Potholes can form in a few different ways, but what is occurring in our streets this spring is a direct result of all those cold snow days in February. The snow on the roads melts and seeps through the pavement as water, where it freezes again. The second freeze causes the ground to expand, pushing the pavement upwards.

Then the sun emerges. As the water melts once again, the ground recedes back into its usual position, leaving an empty cavity between the expanded pavement and the sunken ground beneath. At this point, any vehicle which drives over the cavity beneath the pavement is likely to break it. The pavement cracks, breaks, and a pothole is born!

Doubtless, you’ve noticed an increase in the amount of potholes in Norfolk and Virginia Beach in these last few weeks. You’ve probably hit one (or twenty) and may have even been concerned about your tires and fender after hitting a particularly large one. If your vehicle has been damaged by one of these often-unavoidable potholes, there are a few options open to you, and a few precautions you can take.

  1. Document the incident. It is notoriously difficult to get a city to compensate a driver for damage caused by a pothole. You will have a better chance if you take great care to prove what happened. Take photos of the pothole, the damage to your car and any other relevant factors. Be sure to fill out and submit the correct claims paperwork in a timely manner.
  2. File a complaint. Some cities will refuse a reimbursement claim if they have not received any complaints about the pothole in question, so call up the correct department in your city (Hampton Roads numbers listed below).
  3. Download the “Seeclickfix” app to quickly report potholes in Chesapeake, Norfolk, Suffolk, Hampton and Newport News.
  4. If you’ve taken all the steps listed above and the pothole isn’t being fixed, contact a local news station to blow the whistle and get results.

If you’ve been injured by a pothole, please don’t hesitate to contact the Personal Injury law firm of Montagna Klein Camden in downtown Norfolk, and schedule your free legal consultation. Don’t wait, time restrictions apply!

Contact Information for Pothole Repair:

Virginia Beach: 757-385-1470

Norfolk: 757-823-4050

Suffolk: 757-514-7600

Portsmouth: 757-393-8666

Chesapeake: 757-382-2489

Hampton: 757-727-8311

Newport News: 757-933-2311

For federally-maintained roads contact VDOT at: 1-800-367-7623

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month!

186085662March is Brain Injury Awareness month, and as experienced Personal Injury lawyers, the skilled professionals at Montagna Klein Camden in Norfolk want to spread the word. This year, the BIAA (Brain Injury Association of America) has adopted the theme “Not Alone.”

The Not Alone campaign strives to educate the general public about brain injuries and promote a sense of community among those affected by these traumatic events. The mission of the BIAA is to advance brain injury prevention, research, treatment, and education and to improve the quality of life for all people affected by brain injury.

To get involved, visit

If you or someone you love has been injured due to the negligence of others and was left with brain damage, please contact the personal injury lawyers at Montagna Klein Camden Law firm in Norfolk, VA. Our experienced team of legal professionals are qualified to handle your case. Contact the law firm of Montagna Klein Camden for a free consultation today.


Will You Accept My Conditional Gift?

A young couple walks hand-in-hand down the sidewalk in downtown Norfolk, reminiscing about the past and how they met. Both pause as something falls from his pocket to tinkle on the ground behind them. Their hands come apart as he stoops to retrieve what he has lost.

Instead of straightening up, he remains on one knee. She gasps as he looks up, holding a small circle of sparkly gold.

“Will you accept my conditional gift?”Conditional Gift

Our society has come a long way since the days of dowries and forging alliances through marriage, and yet we still have a few hang-ups about that whole ‘eternal love’ thing. If you or a loved one is planning to propose soon, read on. You may be surprised at just how conditional ‘unconditional love’ can be.

There are legal implications that spring into action the moment those four little words are unleashed: “Will you marry me?” Popping the question and receiving an affirmative response does not mean that the couple is already married, but it does have some smaller, more subtle legal implications. For instance, if you two lovebirds break up before the big day (heaven forbid!), then whoever purchased the ring may have a better case for keeping it.

Different states have different laws regarding the issue. In California, for instance, whoever initiated the break-up will most likely not get to keep that conditional gift, whether they purchased it or not. In other states, such as Iowa, Kansas, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, the purchaser is the owner, period.

Then there’s Montana, the only state to consider a wedding ring an Unconditional Gift. Whether or not marriage happens, a gift is a gift, and the courts will not force its wearer to return it.

If you’re having problems with your love life, and you’ve got a broken engagement on your hands, contact the lawyers at Montagna Klein Camden for a free consultation.

Social Media Faux Pas

It is the year 2015, a time when most of us expected to be flying to work in our hover-cars, vacationing on the moon and just generally having the answers for everything.

Of course, none of that has happened quite yet. We do, however, have access to any person in any area of the world, at any time, with the tap of a finger. Social media may seem like a fad; the shiniest, newest bandwagon for the kids to jump on. It may seem like an under-utilized tool, something that could improve education, communication in the work place, and maybe even make us better as human beings. Despite all of these wonderful potential uses, social media sites such as Facebook a493533923nd Twitter are generally used for entertainment purposes (#pizzanight, #Patriotswin, #etc.)

But what happens when your innocent post (#atthemovies) lands you in deep trouble?

Let’s face it: everyone is on social media to some extent. Even if your boss never posts, tweets, pins or trends, he or she may still log on now and then. And that’s where lots of folks are diving head-first into some piping hot water.

Outside of those little everyday white lies (#mycatissick #sorrynotsorry), there are some real dangers to avoid, particularly if you’re currently involved in a lawsuit. Just the simplest update can unravel your entire defense and leave you with no compensation for your case. We often don’t realize how much we post, or how revealing the content can be. When undergoing legal proceedings it’s usually best practice to suspend all social media activity.

Hey. We’re serious.

When involved in any sort of legal undertaking, you would do well to abstain from all posting, updating, tweeting and blogging. Any slight, seemingly insignificant piece of information may be the undoing of your entire case. For example: You’ve been in an accident and are suing for medical compensation. Things are looking good…until the defense attorney notices that just an hour before the wreck, you posted a status update saying ‘Happy Hour Drinks with BFFs!’

Guess what? Your case is probably ruined.

Additionally, refrain from uploading photos.  For example: You’ve injured your back at work. During your time off recovering, a neighbor asks for your help recycling some old cardboard boxes. Someone snaps a picture as you carry out the empty box that boasts ’50” Flat Screen,’ and that someone uploads the photo to Facebook before you can say ‘I object!’

Even though you know that the box is empty you have no way of proving it.

Just as you may ‘research’ an attractive acquaintance or ‘check up on’ a potential employee; opposing lawyers, insurance agents and police officers can and will look you up if given a reason. Take the advice offered here by the legal professionals at Montagna Klein Camden, and hold off on posting. Tell your friends, family and neighbors that you refuse to be uploaded until the case is finished. And for all your legal needs, whether personal injury, workers compensation, social security disability, family law, or traffic, DUI & criminal law, call the attorneys you trust – Call Montagna Klein Camden in Norfolk today.

Lady Lawyers in Short Supply

Imagine that you’ve been in a car accident, and you’re waiting for your newly-hired attorney to arrive and discuss your case. You hear the sound of dress shoes click-clacking down the hallway, the murmur of voices in serious discussion, two figures round the corner…

…Your new lawyer is a woman.

Chances are, you were expecting a man – and with good reason. Men dominate the legal profession, while women fight desperately just to draw level. According to the American Bar Association, women constitute just 34% of practicing attorneys. You may wonder why, and the answer may alarm you.

It’s no secret that a career in law comes with long hours and a high Amber Russo 022_SHP0064 Webstress-load. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for female attorneys to be forced out of the office when confronted with the unreasonable commitment to work that is expected of lawyers and their associates. A work-and-home life balance is just not possible, particularly for mothers.

Numerous female lawyers have admitted to experiencing prejudice when it comes to their work, not merely from other lawyers but even from bosses and judges. Ignorance of maternity-leave & labor laws may result in many female attorneys being fired once they become pregnant – which is VERY illegal – or earn a stubborn refusal from judges when it comes to rescheduling court dates that coincide with doctor’s appointments or delivery dates.

A quick online search of the term “female lawyer” unearths story after story about discrimination, rudeness, shocking ignorance of moral and legal obligations, and just plain old sexism.

Although this behavior seems to be widespread and is experienced by many women who simply desire a career pursuing justice, there is hope. The world of the legal profession is changing slowly, expanding gradually, and blossoming with a more diverse touch.

We at Montagna Klein Camden hope to be one of the pioneers of this expansion. We didn’t hire her because of her gender, but we are certainly pleased to have Amber H. Russo working with our firm. We knew she was powerful in the courtroom when we hired her, but after reading about the hardships facing female attorneys, we now recognize just how strong she really is.

Welcome to the team Amber, we’re so glad to have you here with us!

New Courtroom for Norfolk

courthouseOur lawyers here at Montagna Klein Camden are looking forward to spending lots of time in the new $123 million courthouse complex on the intersection of East City Hall Avenue and St. Paul’s Boulevard.

Judges, clerks and officers of the law will be making the big move in the next day or two, according to Gary A. Harki of The Virginian-Pilot.

Currently, the Circuit, General District and Juvenile & Domestic Relations Courts are all in separate buildings, but the new complex will change all that. The Norfolk Circuit Court is making the change this week and the General District Court will be next, utilizing the first weekend in February.

Juvenile Court will constitute a more elaborate transition, causing the date to be pushed until two years from now.

Sheriff’s deputies are canvassing the building whenever they are able, attempting to memorize the layout and fine-tune the security. Staff members will have to learn new evacuation procedures and we at Montagna Klein Camden are keen to see the holding cells, where we will meet with our clients.

The main challenge for the next two years will be transferring inmates to and from the courthouse and the jail. Not only is there the risk of the inmate running, but the intersection is always busy, and construction is on-going.

“We’re going to work very closely with the contractors,” said Sheriff Bob McCabe. “Inmate movement is the priority, but at the same time, that’s a terrible intersection right there. When you hold up cement trucks, there’s going to be traffic.”

We at Montagna Klein Camden wish them the best of luck, and look forward to pursuing law in that beautiful new Norfolk Courthouse!

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