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Crooked Mechanics, Admitting Someone to a Psychiatric Hospital, and More Legal Advice – Free Joe Friday 6/24/11

with 2 comments

Every Friday, attorney Joe Escalante answers legal questions for free on the LegalZoom Facebook Page. Did you miss last week’s Free Joe Friday? Don’t worry. We’ve got it all right here.

Chris: my mechanic put the wrong oil filter on my car the oil leaked out and blew the engine,should i notify my lien holder! could i get a rental ?

Joe Escalante: If you can establish that the harm was from the negligent acts of the mechanic, theoretically he would be responsible for making you “whole.” This would include reimbursing you for a rental car. If the car is totaled, the lien holder should know, but if it’s just mechanical repairs, it’s more of a legal issue between you and the mechanic. It might not hurt to talk to your insurance guy too.

Marilyn: @ Joe… received a call from the law firm representing me in a class action suit again TransUnion…. I was offered $443 and the call made it sound like I needed to take the offer it immediately??? I wasn’t sure what I should do so I went in and read a little bit of the settlement document and found out that the firm would get $200 of the $443.. So I am trying to figure out if I should take $200 or hold out???

Joe Escalante: If you hold out, you have to be prepared to sue them yourself. It may be too late. You might have to pay to have a lawyer take a look at the case. I don’t know what TransUnion did so I can’t really advise as to whether this is worth it. Did they botch a gender reassignment surgery? I don’t know.
But I think it’s interesting that the lawyers are going to make so much on each award. It’s not out of line with the market place, but you can see who’s interests are looked after with this kind of litigation, just the lawyers’.

If you don’t take it, you will get nothing unless you sue on your own. Meet with a plaintiff’s attorney and see if they will take this case on a contingency basis. If they will, if might be worth bowing out of the class action.

Terrence: What’s the best way to always stay on top of your business and ahead of the competition?

Joe Escalante: This is pretty open ended for this forum, but I will give you one tip that helped me keep my business from failing immediately. Listen to business tapes. My favorite speaker on this topic is Brian Tracey. I also like the classics like Zig Zigler and “How To Win Friends And Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. And make beer cozies with your logo on them.

Larry: I received a ‘notice’ in the mail saying that one of the images on my website is used without permission of the owner. The company wanted me to send them $600. If I don’t, they claim it will cost me much more. The image doesn’t have any, watermark, ownership info, copyright notice, or digimark. I removed the image right away but how do I tell in the future?

Joe Escalante: Every image that you didn’t create, or photo you didn’t take, or you didn’t hire someone to take or create does not belong to you. You can still use some images that are in the public domain, or under the copyright doctrine of “fair use” but those are exceptions. You can learn about them on the internet but Nolo Press has a great book called “The Public Domain” which you will love.

Dan: During my divorce the equity in my house was much higher than it was at the end of my divorce due to the fall in the housing market. Since the decree stated a specific amount that I owed her rather than “half the equity at time of refinancing”, I am waiting for the market to go back up before paying her half, so I don’t get screwed. If the decree doesn’t state a time frame on when I need to pay her back, is it OK to keep waiting?

Joe Escalante: You guys can both petition the court to make changes in the decree. She can try to make the court get you to pay sooner, perhaps impose a reasonable deadline. You can petition the court to change the order in light of current real estate realities. That’s what you should do asap. And use a different divorce lawyer.

Heather: How do you get a divorce if you don’t know where the other person is and they refused to sign the papers originally.

Joe Escalante: It’s a contested divorce if the other person can’t be located. Read this book. You can do it yourself, or hire an attorney, but you will be much better off after reading this:

David: What is needed to admit someone to a psychiatric hospital, a power of attorney for healthcare or an LPS conservatorship. I work in a Psych hospital and this question keeps coming up. I always thought you had to have the LPS conservatorship here in California.

Joe Escalante: It would depend on the language used in the power of attorney document. Some people actually execute “Mental Healthcare Powers Of Attorney” for this very purpose. The idea is to avoid any LPS conservatorship proceedings that are public and perhaps embarrassing.

Pauline: i need to know where to go to get a divorce for reduced fee or free…. Please can you help me with this. Desperate….. =) thanks..

Joe Escalante: Do it yourself is always free. Read this book and see if you think you are up to it. Don’t steal it though.

Zia: I a adopted. I was recently informed that since I am adopted, I cant be dis-inherited from my families inheritance. If that is true, does that same rule apply to verseas adoptions? Please let me know. Thank you.

Joe Escalante: If your parents create a will, they can dis-inherit you all they want. If they die without a will, or intestate, your rights would not be affected by your legal adoption.

Vicki: My job was being eliminated and I was suppose to get a severance. Then the company fired me instead for a bogus reason. I won my case for unemployment and the judge hinted that this was wrongful termination. How do I find an attorney in AZ that will take the case for no money until they win. This is a large insurance company?

Joe Escalante: You need to find a lawyer specializing in wrongful termination. Tell them you want them to take it on a contingency basis. If someone credible will take it, you have a good case. If they wont take it on this basis, the case is usually not a winner. good luck

Bill: I often do Hi Def video of Florida folk musicians playing. I can produce dvd’s of that performance. Can I sell the dvd’s legally with or without permission by the musicians? Bill

Joe Escalante: Legally, you would need a synchronization license from the composer of the tunes. If the songs are public domain like “Old MacDonald Had A Farm” you would not need permission, but honestly who would buy it? If the songs are original compositions, you gotta get the license. There may be a Fair Use argument you could make, but it’s risky. There might also be some rights of publicity asserted by the musicians, so it would be prudent to get them to sign a release. Legalzoom has such talent releases. See the link below.

You should listen to my radio show by the way. It’s on now at

LegalZoom: Check out the Entertainment section on our forms page:

Lisa: When you are a beneficiary on a life ins is there a legal obligation to the deceased debt even if they are not next of kin

Joe Escalante: No. Keep it. Buy yourself something nice. :)

Jon: In Ca, do you need a business license for a 100% online business?

Becki: I have the same question but for arizona

Joe Escalante: If you are running a business out of your home, the city may come after you for a business license fee. If it’s really 100% percent on line, like Tron, then I guess you could get out of it, but the computer and keyboard have to be somewhere, and that’s where the business license will usually have to be obtained.

Becki: Hey joe. If you recive a DEATH benefit while in active bankruptcy (not a trust fund) is the bankruptcy trustie entiteled to a portion of the benefit?

Joe Escalante: Some state have a dollar amount like $5,000 or $10,000 that is protected against creditors, other states allow the entire amount. Check with the bankruptcy court in your state about this.

Katherine: how do i go about getting legal guardian ship on my mentally handicapped son?

Joe Escalante: The process involves petitioning the court to be appointed legal guardian. Contact the court in your county and ask them for the forms to begin the procedure. Thanks.

Beth: A company has been taking money from our bank account via electronic checks without our authorization. On June 14th I had received an email from this company stating that my account was cancelled and balance due was $0.00. However this company made another transaction via electronic check on June 20th, 6 days after I had received the email. What can we do to make this stop and to get our money back?

Joe Escalante: You can file a small claims case against them to recover the money. It’s unclear whether that court would issue an order for them to stop, but you might want to contact the district attorney’s office to report the activity.

Mike: If an Attorney forgets to pay something at closing does the owner (client) have any standing with making someone else pony up the amount due? Or is the owner responsible even though someone working for the Attorney made the mistake of leaving the bill off the HUD statement?

Joe Escalante: If the owner originally owed the amount, he cannot get out of it by this kind of istake, usually. The owner can refuse to pay his legal bills, or get a reduction, but that might end up in court of the lawyer doesn’t agree.

Thomas: How hard is it to CLOSE a nursing home for negligence? My mother died as a direct result of negligence in 2007 after having to go to the hospital.

Thomas: It wasn’t the hospital but the nursing home that was negligent.

Joe Escalante: Talk to the district attorney in your area. Some are passionate about this topic. For others, it might take you to put it on their radar. Good luck.

Gail: In NJ what is needed to set up an llc. I tried to apply with the state and they asked for a tax id. Is that the first step?

Joe Escalante: Well, if you have a business, you should have a tax i.d. # at some point so why not get it? You know me, I’d get one through legalzoom. And I’d also get my LLC done with them as well. You will avoid many hiccups. See the link below:

LegalZoom: Here you go, Gail:

Samuel: from Atlanta Ga. I am
A landlord and had to do a eviction. I won the judgment, how do I recover the money?

Joseph (whose profile picture is Homer Simpson): by starting the collection process. Garnish wages, levy accounts and what not. find your states equivalent of an abstract of judgment

Joe Escalante: Listen to Homer.


Joseph (whose profile picture is Homer Simpson): To register a trademark, that’s done either through your Secretary of State for a State trademark or the US Patent & Trademark Office for a Federal trademark.

If you are only conducting business in one state, then a State trademark is most appropriate. If you conduct (OR are planning to conduct) business in at least 2 states OR between the US & any other country, you can file for a Federal trademark.

Prior to investing your time, money & effort into a name, it is strongly advised that comprehensive research be conducted to ensure that the name you’re interested in is truly available.

FOR A LOGO: This entails searching the pending & registered Federal trademark files.

FOR A NAME: This entails searching the pending & registered Federal and State trademark files as well as the US National Common-Law files.

Then, if clear, you can decide if you would like to file for a Federal or a State trademark.

Hope that helps! Source(s):… — Contacting your Secretary of State, a listing of links for all states – United States Patent & Trademark Office — USPTO’s Main Trademark Page… — Nolo’s Trademark Resource Center

Joe Escalante: This is great trademark info. Thanks Homer.

Shari: I would like 2 franchise my business so how do I go abt handling tht?

Joe Escalante: 1. Make sure your business entity is all up to date, then how about reading up on it? Check this out:

Joseph: Joe, What is a “Securitization Audit?”

Joe Escalante: As far as I know, it’s delaying tactic used to keep people in their houses during a foreclosure. I don’t see any evidence that they work in the end.

Jeremy: How can I wright an indemnity clause to protect my web hosting firm from liability in the event that one of my clients who is a reseller (resells web hosting) has a lawsuit files against them? If a client who is a reseller gets into a lawsuit, how can I protect myself from being sued as well (the reseller uses my server to host his/her own client’s website).

Joe Escalante: You probably need to hire an attorney to draft some language for you to indemnify you against any harm cause by the actions of your clients. The trick is to get the language to the point where it protects you, but doesn’t frighten your clients to the point where they wont sign it.

Jen: We recently moved my elderly father from AZ to IL but he left his car in AZ and it’s currently in my brother’s possession. In the flurry of moving, he forgot to sign the car title over to my brother. Now that my dad is in IL, would a notary public be able to notarize his out of state car title? The DMV made my dad turn in his AZ driver’s license when they gave him an IL state i.d. so he no longer has any identification that matches the address on his car title (though I’m not sure if that matters.) Thanks for you help!

Joe Escalante: Fed Ex it to him, have him sign it and send it back. To me that’s the same thing as not forgetting it in the first place unless I’m missing something here.

LegalZoom: Thanks for joining us for Free Joe Friday, everyone! Check out Joe’s radio shows (schedule on the Free Joe tab and the Barely Legal Radio w/ Joe Escalante Facebook page. Have a great weekend!

Get more info and all the details and fine print about Free Joe Fridays. And join us on Facebook next Friday at 10am PT for more Free Joe!

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