Car Accident Involving a Police Officer

Police officers are on the road just as much (if not more) as you are. Officers rush to crime scenes and other accidents, try to follow drivers that are driving carelessly, and patrol streets. So it stands to reason that sometimes a police officers might get in a car accident or two. Accidents of these types can range from a parked car incident to a full rear-end collision.

Even though accidents involving police cars are not uncommon, it is often harder to sue the state when a police officer is at fault. To do this successfully, you will need to have an experienced attorney on your side in addition to understanding and following the correct and proper procedure – failure to do so might not help your case.

The Steps to Take

As with any other car accident, it’s important to get all the right information immediately. The following must be noted:

  • Name of the officer
  • Any witnesses names
  • Street where accident happened
  • Time of day
  • Description of incident

Make sure to get a copy of the police report, and always call a separate patrol car when an accident happens – do not allow the officers involved in the crash to write up a report. Respectfully request an independent investigation. If the officer who caused the collision must write up the report, make sure to get a copy of the report and make sure it includes the information that you want it to include.

Additional Information

When it comes to being involved in an accident with the state, it is up to you to prove that you were not at fault. Even if the incident seems obvious, it’s not. You will have to prove that you were not driving carelessly, and this could be hard to do – unless the auto accident was a rear-end collision at a traffic light, it is often harder to prove that an accident was not your fault when suing the state.

You must also file a claim with the city if you are attempting to collect money for damages. Keep in mind that you have to file this claim before you try to sue the state. If the claim is not filed, your lawsuit might be thrown out of court.

Not Easy

It is not easy to collect money from the state when an accident happens. In addition to police officers, it is possible to be involved in an accident with any state vehicle including ambulances, fire trucks, school buses, and heavy machinery and equipment. In every case, you have to remember three very important things:

1. Unless liability is crystal clear, it is up to you to prove exactly how the accident happened and who was at fault.

2. You must file a claim with the city before you try to sue the government.

3. Typically, you cannot sue a person – you must sue the city, county or state.

 

What Is Probate in Relation to a Will

A will is a legal document that outlines what one would want to happen after their death in terms of their funeral, care for their children and most important of all, distribution of their estate. When a person dies having drafted their will, they are said to have died testate in legal terms. The opposite of this would be dying intestate. A will usually specifically states the name of an executor, a person entrusted by the testator or testatrix with the task of executing the will after their death. An executor could be a close family member, a relative, trusted friend or even an attorney. An executor is usually referred to as a ‘representative of the estate in probate’ in a will in order to cover executors of both gender.

A will is very important because it makes things a lot easier for the family of a deceased person especially when it comes to estate distribution issues. A will reduces the possibility of disagreement or misunderstanding between family members when trying to figure out the deceased’s death wishes. Administering a will is however not as easy as it may sound. This is because the law requires wills to be validated by a court which could take a couple of months to do. Validation of a will is done by the executor by applying for a Grant of Probate in a probate court.

Probate is the legal process of identifying, validating and distributing the estate of a deceased person under strict court supervision. The probate process includes payment of outstanding debts to creditors and payment of outstanding taxes such as death and inheritance tax. A probate court is a special court that interprets the will and validates any claims on the estate made by third parties such as the creditors of the deceased. The court oversees the probate process right from when the executor files for a grant of probate, up to when it is granted and ownership of the estate is transferred to the beneficiaries.

For the executor of a will to be granted probate, they will have to first present to the probate court registry, the deceased’s will and a solicitor approved oath. The oath shows that the executor is committed to administering the wishes stated by the deceased in the will. The executor named in the will is usually not recognized by the law until the probate court officially appoints them as the representative of the estate in probate.

If a will was properly drafted, it takes the court a shorter time to grant probate. Incase the beneficiaries are not completely satisfied with the court’s decision, probate law allows them to contest the validity of the will in the same court. In such a case the estate remains frozen until the court makes a validity judgment. In the event of intestate death, or if there is no executor is named in a will, the grant of probate is referred to as a ‘Letter of Administration’. It is also acquired through a court process and is issued to the person that the court deems fittest to execute the will or distribute the estate.

A will or probate lawyer is a trained professional that offers legal services to an executor. Such a professional helps the executor with fulfilling the duties assigned to them by the will. A lawyer can be hired to offer advice or represent the executor in a probate court. They can also help with payment of death and inheritance taxes.

 

Is a Domestic Partnership Formed in Another State Recognized By California

State and federal laws about same-sex relationships have changed a lot over the past few decades and will probably continue to change in the near future, so it’s important to understand the current statutes and how they may affect your relationship. Out of the all the 50 US states, California was the first one to grant the most rights and protections to same-sex couples through its domestic partnership law. Enacted in 1999, domestic partnerships in California gave same-sex partners (and opposite-sex couples where at least one party is age 62 or older) a legal status similar to marriage, at least at the state level. When same-sex couples registered as domestic partners, they would be able to use sick leave or family leave to take care of an ill partner, and name their partners as beneficiaries of their wills and 401(k) Plans. Since then California domestic partnerships have been expanded to include all of the rights and responsibilities common to marriage, and are equivalent to civil unions offered in several other states.

In 2008, shortly after the California Supreme Court ruled same-sex marriages were legal, California voters approved Proposition 8, which stripped same-sex couples of the freedom to marry. In 2013, the US Supreme Court reinstated the trial court ruling invalidating Proposition 8 and same-sex couples have had the freedom to marry in California since that decision. The ruling established that all married couples in California, including same-sex couples, must be treated by the federal government as married, equally, and with respect. The ruling also stated that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which required the federal government to treat same-sex couples as unmarried and prohibited them from granting same-sex married couples any of the federal benefits, protections, and responsibilities based on marriage, violated the state Constitution’s guarantees of equality and liberty. Most recently, in 2015, the US Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples have the freedom to marry throughout the United States. The ruling is based on the fact that the Fourteenth Amendment requires states to allow same-sex couples to marry and to recognize marriages of same-sex couples performed outside of their home state.

Having said that, it is important to understand that domestic partnerships and marriages, or even civil unions, are not the same thing, even though they can have the same legal implications. Despite the 2015 Supreme Court’s ruling, which allows same-sex couples to legally marry in any of the 50 states, very few US states have created domestic relationship programs for same-sex couples. If a state does not have a domestic partnership program in place, it may not recognize a couple’s domestic partnership as legal if the couple moves to that state. Fortunately, California recognizes domestic partnerships created in other states as valid and partners do not need to re-register their domestic partnership. Of course, the same applies to same-sex marriages since the 2015 Supreme Court’s ruling. Couples who are legally married in another jurisdiction or state are recognized as married in California as well. The relationship will be treated as marriage, not domestic partnership. This is based upon the legal concept of Full Faith and Credit. That is, if a “thing” is legal in one state is legal in all others.

Domestic partnership registrations in California are different from marriage licenses. They are processed by the California Secretary of State’s office, which also processes the termination of those domestic partnerships. On the other hand, county governments process marriage licenses, as well as dissolution of those marriages. Registered domestic partners are treated exactly the same as married couples, including with regard to community property, spousal support and child support, in case of separation. Today, domestic partners living in California need to communicate their separation to the Secretary of State’s office, even if the domestic relationship was granted by another state. Domestic partnerships can be resolved out of court if many conditions are met, including that both parties sign the termination papers, there are no children of the relationship, there are limited common assets and debts, and there is no request for spousal support. In all other circumstances, domestic partnerships can only be terminated by obtaining a judgment of dissolution from a court, just like any marriage. Experienced family law mediators are trained to advise same-sex couples during the separation process, to help them same time, money and grief by encouraging communication and compromise to reach a prompt agreement.

Five Tips to Avoid Identity Theft

Identity theft victims reported losing more than $15 billion in 2014. That’s more than the combined losses from burglary, motor vehicle theft and other property theft in the same period. While it’s no surprise that identity theft can leave you feeling vulnerable, there are things you can do to take some control.

Step 1: Order your credit report when you realize you’ve become a victim. You need to quickly find out about any errors showing up on your report. Go to annualcreditreport.com for free copies of your report from all three nationwide credit-reporting companies-Experian, Equifax and Transunion.

If you see any errors or fraudulent charges, report them to the credit reporting companies right away. They will investigate those items and then forward the information to the business that reported it. The business has 30 days to respond.

If the business providing the loan finds an error, it must notify the credit reporting company so your file can be corrected. If your credit changes because of the business’ investigation, the reporting company will send you a letter with the results.

Step 2: Place a fraud alert to make it harder for an identity thief to open more accounts in your name. Call any one of the three nationwide credit reporting companies and ask them to put an initial fraud alert on your credit report. They must contact the other two companies about your alert.

Equifax

1-800-525-6285

Experian

1-800-397-3742

TransUnion

1-800-680-7289

While there’s an alert on your report, anytime a business performs a credit inquiry they will need to verify your identity before issuing credit in your name. This may require contacting you, so be sure you’ve updated your credit report with your current contact information. The alert will stay on your report for 90 days and allows you to order an additional free copy of your report from each of the three credit reporting companies.

Step 3: Consider a credit freeze. A Credit Freeze, also known as a Security Freeze, gives you maximum control over who has access to your credit. It can stop a thief from opening new accounts in your name because lenders and other creditors won’t be able to get your credit report.

With a Credit Freeze in place, even you will have to take special steps to apply for credit. You can still open new accounts, apply for a job, rent an apartment, buy insurance, refinance your mortgage, or do anything else that requires your credit report. But businesses will need to verify your identity so they may need to contact you and you will have to call the reporting company to lift the freeze in order for the business to review your report. Again, be sure they have your most current information through your credit report.

A few things to know: Due to stringent laws, you’ll have to contact each reporting company separately to place a Credit Freeze. Also, placing a credit freeze does not affect your credit score. Finally, the cost depends on where you live. If you are 65 or older, or a victim of identity theft and submit a valid investigative or incident report, complaint with a law enforcement agency or the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), the fee will be waived.

Step 4: File an Identity Theft Report. An Identity Theft Report is a great weapon. You can use it to get fraudulent information removed from your credit report; stop a company from collecting debts that result from identity theft-or from selling the debt to another company for collection. You can also use it to place an extended fraud alert on your credit report, and to get information about accounts the identity thief opened or misused.

Filing an Identity Theft Report is simple: Submit a complaint about the theft to the FTC. When you finish writing all the details, print a copy of the report. It will print as an Identity Affidavit.

File a police report about your identity theft, and get a copy of the police report or the report number. (Make sure to bring your FTC Identity Theft Affidavit and attach it to your police report).

Some credit reporting companies may ask for more information or documentation than the Identity Theft Report includes. It depends on the policies of the credit reporting company and the business that sent the information about you to the reporting company.

Step 5: Report fraud on existing accounts. For any of your accounts that show fraudulent charges, contact the business right away. Explain that you’re an identity theft victim. Close the account and follow their reporting process. You can ask if they’ll accept your Identity Theft Report. Additionally, write to the fraud department of each business. By law, they have to review your letter, investigate your complaint, and tell you the results of their investigation. If the information is wrong, the business must tell the credit reporting company. Make sure to ask for a letter from the business confirming that it removed the fraudulent information.

On any credit card or bank account that remains open, take steps to protect yourself. Change your password and place code words on accounts that allow them. Code words are offered on some accounts as an added level of security. You can typically choose your code word. You might consider using something only you would know and is not public knowledge. Finally, continually monitor your accounts, keeping an eye out for any suspicious activity.