Know your rights

Richard Alderman

Q. I went to a big-box store last week and had an accident. The manager completed an accident/incident report. I am not sure quite what actually happened, but I wound up in the floor in a sitting position. I hit my knee, and elbow somehow on the way down. I have an appointment with my doctor this week to get checked out. I have never had to deal with something like this, and never expected it. I would like to know what procedures or steps I should take for something like this.

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Once again, it is time for the “People’s Law School,” the oldest and most successful law program for the layperson in the country. This is your chance to learn more about your legal rights, and have fun at the same time.

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Q. Is it against any law to negotiate rental rates? Could it be considered discrimination if a landlord charges different rates for the same size apartment?

A. Discrimination is basically treating one person better or worse than another. It is discrimination to charge different people different rent for the same apartment. Discrimination, however, is not per se illegal. In fact, it is not uncommon for a seller to charge different prices to different customers. I am sure that many people who buy the same type of car pay very different prices.

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Q. My daughter had a baby and is living with the baby’s father. Are they married? He says they are not. What rights does she have if he leaves? He is taking care of her and the baby but is threatening to leave her.

A. Under the law, if he is the father of the child, she has the right to receive support for the child. She is entitled to child support regardless of whether they are married.

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Q. Does a store have the right to limit who may park in its parking lot? Isn’t this public property? Can I be towed for parking where I shouldn’t?

A. As a general rule, a parking lot is not public property. Nearly all parking lots are private property, and the owner of the lot may limit who may park in the lot. Whether you may be towed, however, is a different question.

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Q. I am set to go to justice court. I think I have a good case and I am very comfortable representing myself. If I win, will he be forced to pay me? Does he have to pay court costs if I win?

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Q. A gravel truck was driving past the entrance to the freeway when I entered. His wheel threw a rock that hit my windshield. I called, and the company said it was not responsible. Who is at fault and how can I get reimbursed for my windshield?

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Q. My family was involved in a car accident. My brother was driving and my 80 year-old grandmother was also in the vehicle, along with my mother. It was the other driver’s fault. We are attempting to settle, but the insurance company only wants to pay for medical bills and damage to our car, even though we went through a lot of stress and other financial loss. What can I do to have them compensate us?

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Q. Three years ago, a credit card company filed a lawsuit against me. I answered the lawsuit. I heard nothing for almost two years, until I received a notice of hearing on a motion for summary judgment. Isn’t there a four-year statute of limitations for lawsuits? Shouldn’t this case now be dismissed?

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Q. I was renting a house with two of my friends. The house burned down because of the electrical fault. We still have six months more to go on lease. We did not have a renter’s insurance. The fire was not our fault. We lost most of our property. We assume the owner has insurance. Can we file to recover for our damages? Can we get compensation toward rent?

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