September 2016 - Kamerow Law
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Legal Ramifications of Signatures in Virginia

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Legal Ramifications of Signatures in Virginia

In Herman Melville’s novel, Moby Dick, Polynesian whale harpooner, Queequeg, signs his name as “X.” Since the character is illiterate, this signature serves as his unique identifier, his official seal in significance of his agreement to serve on the whaling ship, the Pequod. But what does signing a piece of paper really mean?

Demonstration assent

A signature is a method of indicating that a party is agreeing to terms, or entering into some form of contractual arrangement, however simple. An example is a receipt from a credit card purchase; the purchasing party signs in agreement to pay the amount of the purchase.

Often unnecessary, but still used

In many situations, a signature is not legally required, but is still requested as a formality. The act of signing a document reinforces the concept, in the mind of an agreeing party, that a promise is being made and that the promise is binding. An example is a construction firm that regularly makes purchases from a supplier of building materials. If a request is properly made by a principle with proper authority to purchase a large quantity of materials, and that parcel of materials is received by any employee of the construction firm, then no signature is actually required at either end of the arrangement. It will often be requested by the supplier upon making the delivery, however, to offer proof of delivery should some or all of the goods somehow disappear prior to use, and the quantity or actual delivery comes into question.

Not necessarily made by the assenter’s own hand

While traditionally, a signature is made by the hand of the party agreeing to the terms in question, it is not necessary that the assenter actually put pen to paper. Unless statutorily prohibited, a designee can be used to affix the seal. This is the case where the party demonstrating commitment is physically unable to make the signature, as in cases of severe illness or paralysis. Also, the assent can have been made prior to the time at which the signature is being made, and conditioned upon events occurring subsequent to the agreeing. An example of this is an agent acting under power of attorney created prior to the assent being demonstrated, and while the agreeing party is incapacitated.

Clerical mistakes can often be disregarded as significant

If a lengthy or otherwise complex document is signed improperly, such as by one party signing on the wrong dotted line, this can usually be demonstrated as a mere clerical error having no significance with regard to the execution of the contract.

Get legal assistance

If you or a loved one is involved in a legal dispute arising out of a signature, lack thereof, or some other form of contention involving a question of assent to terms of a legal arrangement, do not attempt to fight alone. Incorporated businesses, especially large ones, have trained and experienced attorneys working on their side to protect the interests of the firm. You need lawyers on your side to protect your rights and interests. Contact the attorneys at The Kamerow Law Firm, PLLC for a free and confidential consultation by calling 703-370-8088.

What Role Does Evidence Play in a Lawsuit?

In any legal case contested in any courtroom, evidence is needed to win. Without evidence, no case will even get past the initial stages. The adage, “it is not what you know, it is what you can prove,” holds true in the world of legal cases because the proceedings in a courtroom utilize evidence to recreate or otherwise shed light on the real world events that gave rise to the case. Evidence exists in one of three forms: witness testimony, an object, or a document.

Relevance

The judge decides what evidence will be admitted, and follows the rules of evidence in the given jurisdiction to do so. The rules of evidence in any given jurisdiction closely follow the Federal Rules of Evidence. According to FRE rule 402, all relevant evidence is admissible, unless a specific rule keeps it out. FRE rule 401 says that “[e]vidence is relevant if: (a) it has any tendency to make a fact more or less probable than it would be without the evidence; and (b) the fact is of consequence in determining the action. In common parlance, this means that the evidence must help in some way to prove a claim and the claim must have something to do with the outcome of the case.

Admissibility

The law craves to admit as much evidence as possible because evidence helps to re-enact or otherwise bring understanding to the events around which the case revolves. In short, it brings truth. However, some evidence can counteract the functionality of the legal proceedings and is therefore not admitted. FRE rule 403 will allow the judge to refuse admission of evidence if, despite having relevant value in proving the case, that same evidence tends to create some unfair prejudice, create confusion of the issue, mislead the jury, or simply waste time. This rule evaluates the comparative weight of the evidence in proving the case versus creating one of the above counterproductive situations.

In criminal cases, evidence that constitutes “fruit of the forbidden tree” is inadmissible. This refers to evidence that was obtained by the government in violation of a person’s rights. An example is evidence that was found pursuant to an unreasonable search in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.

Get Competent Legal Representation to Ensure Your Case is Proven

Regardless of what actually happened to prompt a legal cause of action, legal cases pivot on the evidence presented in the courtroom and the impact that evidence has on a jury. Since the jury was not there when the events in question occurred, they must rely on the evidence presented to comprehend the events in contention.

Get legal representation that presents your case with force; contact the experienced attorneys at The Kamerow Law Firm, PLLC for a free and confidential consultation by calling 703-370-8088.

Staged Car Accidents

Not all traffic crashes are accidents. Some are choreographed events, planned and executed by criminals who attempt to win large sums from insurance companies. These con artists play the role of victim, but they are offenders. While different versions of each arise from time to time, the basic same techniques and collision traps are used to stage collisions that misplace blame on the innocent motorists who fall prey to these fraudsters. Usually, these crooks target expensive cars because owners of such vehicles are much more likely to have insurance policies with high payout limits.

Swerve and Stop

In this scheme, the perpetrator of the fraudulent accident pulls just in front of the target vehicle while in an adjacent lane, then suddenly and quickly change lanes, pulling immediately in front of the target vehicle and abruptly stop before the victim vehicle has time to react. The presumption made on scene by police in response to a rear end collision is almost always that the striking (rear) vehicle is at fault for following too closely and not allowing a safe distance. Sometimes, the offending vehicle will have helper vehicles that pull up on the side of the victim target vehicle to prevent it from swerving to the next lane in order to avoid the collision with the front car.

Baiting hand signals

To execute this con, the swindler has the right of way over the target vehicle, such as in merging lanes, but uses hand signals to induce the target vehicle to “go ahead” and take that right of way. When the target vehicle proceeds, the fraudulent accident creator continues on the right of way, causing a collision with the victim vehicle. Upon making a report with police, the con artist simply denies making any sort of non-verbal communication and blames the target vehicle for wrongfully taking the right of way.

Staged witnesses

This technique simply involves the use of any given collision pattern in conjunction with a few complicit con artists who serve as bystander witnesses to corroborate the testimony of the perpetrator. When police arrive, the scammers create a situation in which the fraudster’s story places fault with the target vehicle and is backed up by three or so witnesses, whose testimony consistently comports not only with one another but also with the perpetrator’s. Police and insurance companies are more likely to believe four people united over a single person.

Dash cameras

Evidence in the form of video footage taken by dash cameras or vehicle cameras facing in other directions can prove to be invaluable in preventing fraudulent accident perpetrators from converting the on-street exploits into money from bogus insurance claims that cause detriment to you. Evidence taken from such cameras is very likely to be admitted as evidence in a courtroom.

Get Legal Assistance

Competent attorneys can remove the thin façade that covers staged vehicle accident and shed light on the criminal elements. Requesting the phone records of corroborating witnesses who posed as strangers with respect to the perpetrator can help establish a criminal conspiracy. Revealing a history of similar claims made by the perpetrators combined with other techniques allow lawyers to unravel the false claims. If you or a loved one has been involved in a vehicle crash you suspect might involve fraud or misplaced blame, contact the Kamerow Law Firm, PLLC at (703) 370-8088 for a free and confidential initial consultation.