Richard Alderman

Q. I let a friend borrow the extra key to my apartment and he lost it. Can I require my landlord to change my locks?

A. Under the law, a landlord has an obligation to change the locks at his expense when a new tenant moves in. After that time, the landlord must change the locks whenever the tenant requests, as often as the tenant wants. The tenant, however, must pay the costs of installing the new locks. In other words, you can require your landlord to change your locks; however, you must pay the costs.

 

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Q. My son was hired as a mechanic’s assistant at $14 an hour. He told the supervisor that he had some experience, but he was willing to learn as he went along with the job. The supervisor was fine with this, and my son was given other duties as well. My son was very happy, always on time to work, apparently no problems. Last week he was called to the office and told they had hired a previous ex-employee to come back as the assistant. My son was given the option to go work in another job, but his pay would be reduced to $10 an hour. Is this legal?

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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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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. 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. A credit card company sued me and has a judgment against me. Now it has garnished my bank account, and all the money in the account has been taken. I thought there was no garnishment in Texas?

A. With the exception of obligations for child support and student loans, Texas law prohibits wage garnishment. In other words, a creditor who sues for a credit card debt cannot garnish your wages through your employer. Creditors, however, can garnish a bank checking or savings account.

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Q. Due to the heavy rain in recent weeks, one of my healthy oak trees fell over onto the driveway of our neighbor, damaging his two vehicles parked in the driveway. Am I liable for the repair costs to his cars?

A. If the trees were healthy and blew over as an act of God, you have no liability. For you to be liable, it is necessary to show that you were “negligent” in caring for your trees, and that negligence is why they fell. You are not legally responsible simply because you are the owner of the property and the trees.

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Richard Alderman

Q. My daughter-in-law received a ticket last year for lack of auto insurance and paid the $250 fine. She thought it was paid in full, but recently she received another bill for $250. When she asked about this bill, she was told that she has to pay the $250 “surcharge” for three years. Is this true? Please explain the lack of insurance fine and its duration.

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Q. I was hired by a small company to perform consulting services. They paid me for several months and then stopped. They kept saying I would be paid “soon,” and I believed them. Now it looks like they are not going to pay me. Have I waited too long to sue in Justice Court? How long do I have to sue for money I am owed for consulting services?

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