Q. I was walking along a street when a police officer told me to walk on the other side, or he would give me a ticket. Can a police officer actually write a ticket for walking on the wrong side of the street when there are no sidewalks?
A. There are laws regarding where a pedestrian may walk, and you can receive a ticket if you violate the law. Basically, if there is a sidewalk, the law says you must walk on the sidewalk and cannot walk in the street. If the is no sidewalk, you may walk in street, but must walk facing traffic. I should also point out that walkers, joggers and runners are all treated as pedestrians under the law.
Q. I got a call from a debt collector about a 15-year-old debt. I told him I had no recollection of the debt and had no intention of paying. How long can I be hounded about a debt I might not even owe? I though that after seven years it was no longer enforceable.
A. There are a number of time periods that are relevant to your question. First, after four years, the statute of limitations for most debts has expired, and it is too late to file suit. After seven years, most items are considered obsolete and are no longer reported on your credit report. Until the debt is paid, however, you still owe the money, and a debt collector can ask to be paid, but that’s about it. Any threats to sue or harassment violates debt collection laws. There also is a way to stop any further communication from the debt collector. Under federal law, you have the right to end all further communication by sending a letter to the debt collector demanding they no longer contacts you. To learn more about these laws, look at the debt collection material on my Web site, www.peopleslawyer.net .
Q. What are my rights if I have a common law marriage? If we get divorced, will I have any right to his property?
A. A common law marriage is no different than any other marriage. You are married. To have a common law marriage, you must agree to be married, hold yourself out as married, and live together as married. Once you establish a common law marriage, your right to share your husband’s property is the same as any other spouse. If you get divorce, you will share all “community property,” which basically is anything either of you obtain while you were married.
Q. We recently purchased a used camper from a large local camper dealer. Before my purchase, I inspected the camper to the best of my ability. On multiple occasions, I asked the salesman if the camper had any water leaks. He said it did not. So did the service tech who did my final walk-around with the camper. I got the camper home, and with all of the recent rain, I found that the camper did indeed leak and also had some severe water damage. I know the purchase agreement states “as is,” but I feel this camper was misrepresented by the dealership and this information should have been disclosed. I relied on what the dealer told me when I bought it.
A. If the salesperson and service tech misrepresented the camper, they and the dealer may have violated the state consumer protection law, the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. This law lets you collect damages, and if they knew what was said wasn’t true, they could even be liable for three times your damages. The fact you bought the camper “as is” might affect your legal rights, but in my opinion, if the misrepresentations induced you to sign the “as is” contract, you can still use this law.