October 2016 - Kamerow Law
703-370-8088
Who Needs To Know The Law Besides Lawyers?

Contact Us Today

Visit Our Blog

Office Location

Kamerow Law Firm, PLLC
5001 Seminary Road, Suite 110
Alexandria, VA 22311
Phone: 703-370-8088
Fax: 703-370-1714

Archive

Who Needs To Know The Law Besides Lawyers?

Many professionals, other than attorneys, are required to have an extensive knowledge of the law, though usually, the required knowledge is relegated to one specific area of law. These professionals are required to work within the legal framework established in the given area of law, and in most cases, compliance is strictly enforced. Violations of some laws can lead to termination of employment and also civil liability for both the employee who is in violation and the employer. While many requirements of legal knowledge and compliance exist, a few concepts are discussed below.

HIPAA

HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Perhaps the best known aspect of HIPAA is the Privacy Rule, which provides standards for protecting personal information of individuals regarding health and medical treatment, while allowing the efficient flow of necessary information among doctors, insurance providers, pharmaceutical providers, and medical billing specialists, among others. The Privacy Rule must be learned and observed by all workers in the medical field who have access to such information. Standards established in HIPAA must also be understood and observed by any supervisor in any place of employment that provides medical insurance. Supervisors who receives call-ins for sick time or otherwise become aware of medical issues, such as through requests for reasonable accommodation, for example, are equally as responsible as those in the medical field for maintaining the privacy of medical information pertaining to employees working under them.

OSHA

OSHA stands for Occupational Health and Safety Administration, which is an agency of the federal government. OSHA sets standards for safety and health in the workplace. Any place of employment that involves hazardous materials, dangerous conditions such as large machinery, or otherwise places employees in jeopardy of injury or illness must observe OSHA standards for safety. Breaches in OSHA standards leading to injuries or illness can become costly expenses for companies in all areas of commerce.

One simple violation that creates the possibility of legal penalties by OSHA is failure to comply with the directive to promulgate hazardous materials in the workplace. Poisons, radioactive materials, biohazards, and other materials presenting a threat to health must be declared and identified to all workers who might be exposed to such materials.

Failure to train

42 USC 1983 provides that, “Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured . . .” Case law based on this section of federal law establishes civil liability against employers, including governmental agencies, that fail to train employees in laws and standardized procedures when the failure leads to injury, illness, or civil violations of the rights of any individual.

Invoke your Legal Rights; Get Experienced Representation

If you or a loved one has suffered injury, illness, or violations of privacy and other civil rights resulting from a violation of law, demand just compensation. These laws exist to protect you, the citizen, and harm suffered as a result deserves justice and monetary recompense. Contact online or call the attorneys at The Kamerow Law Firm, PLLC,for a free and confidential consultation at 703-370-8088.

Negligent Truck Accidents in Virginia

Commercial motor vehicles, aka semi-tractor trailers, 18-wheelers, and trucks, are regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which imposes strict regulations on these vehicles and their drivers. The rules enacted by the FMCSA are crafted to ensure that trucks are operated with the highest level of safety possible. Limits are placed on vehicle weight and a driver’s time behind the wheel, and mandatory inspections of vehicle components are required on a routine basis. The reason for such regulation is that these vehicles are so enormous in size and weight that they are much more prone to crashes than common passenger vehicles. Also, once a crash occurs, the massive weight creates the destructive potential energy of 20 average cars.

Drive time limits

Drivers of commercial vehicles are limited in the numbers of hours they can legally drive each work day. On any given working shift, a truck driver may legally drive a maximum of 11 cumulative hours. These driving hours must take place within a working shift of no more than 14 hours. In other words, once a truck driver begins a working shift, the shift must end within 14 hours, and in that period, he may drive no more than 11 total hours. Violations of hours of service regulations can constitute prima facie evidence of driver fatigue if a crash occurs after maximum limits are exceeded.

Maximum vehicle weights

On average, the weight of an 18-wheeler without a payload is approximately 35,000 pounds. By law, the maximum gross weight of a commercial vehicle carrying a load of freight (without a special permit) is 80,000 pounds. Violations of weight regulations, in the form of excessive load weights, can compromise the vehicle’s ability to decelerate under braking and increase the risk of collisions on the roadway. Therefore, excessive weights in violation of FMCSA regulations could pose a danger to all motorists and constitute negligence.

Mandatory inspection of vehicles

Because of the massive potential for destruction if a crash takes place, along with the increased risk of crash inherent in such large machines, truck drivers are required by FMCSA regulations to conduct an inspection of the vehicle at the start and end of each working day of driving. Components such as pneumatic brakes and associated air lines, tires, and other critical parts of the truck must be checked for fitness. Wear and imminent failure of such components that is likely to cause a traffic crash can be detected by inspection, and therefore, can prevent crashes. Because of this, failure to inspect can constitute negligence and increase the risk of traffic crash.

Get experienced legal help to uncover true causes of accidents and recover just compensation

Standard police reports do not reveal violations of FMCSA regulations and therefore, do not relate the entirety of the circumstances involved in truck accidents. If you or a loved one suffered harm as the result of a truck crash, enlist the help of an experienced accident attorney to investigate and uncover the culpable violations that constitute negligence and caused the harm you suffered. Demand just compensation for medical bills, property destruction, and other damages; contact the experienced accident attorneys at The Kamerow Law Firm, PLLC  online for a free and confidential consultation or by calling 703-370-8088.

What Happens to Bequeathed Property if the Intended Heir Dies?

Sometimes, a party named in a will dies before the testator. Unless the parcel of property intended for this heir is somehow reassigned, this property will be subject to intestacy, and could be subject to probate. In legal terms, a legatee is a person designated in a will to inherit money or other non-real property, and a devisee is a person designated to inherit real property.

Void

If a testator designates an heir for a parcel of property who, at the time of execution, has already died, the gift left to this designee is void.

Lapse

If a designated heir in a will dies after the creation of the will but before the death of the testator, the gift allocated to this heir will become lapsed.

Codicil

A codicil is a document that amends a will. It can revoke all or portions of a will, or it can designate an heir for property acquired after the execution of a will. It can also assign property otherwise not assigned to a party in the will. In the case of unassigned property caused by the death or other unavailability of a named person, a codicil can reassign that property to another heir with certainty.

Of course, a will can be rewritten at any time and the previous version be nullified, but the use of a codicil avoids the process of executing another will and streamlines the process of reassigning a parcel of property.

Anti-Lapse Statute

In the absence of another rule, void, lapsed or otherwise unassigned parcels of an estate will fall to the residue, which is any portion of an estate not designated to an heir. Anti-lapse statutes address situations of lapsed and void gifts designated in a will, and allow one who invokes the statute to stand in the shoes of the intended, specified, yet deceased legatee or devisee and take the property just as the original legatee or devisee would have. While anti-lapse statutes vary among jurisdictions with regard to who can qualify to use the statute, Virginia’s rules provide that a deceased heir can be the grandparents of the testator and all issue of those grandparents can invoke the statute (parents, then children, grandchildren, etc.) depending on who among that group is surviving.

Demand your fair share of the estate; get legal representation to enforce your inheritance

An unfortunate by-product of the death of a maternal or paternal figure can be disputes among surviving relatives.  This could result from the fact that siblings who have developed bad blood are suddenly thrust in a position in which they must not only have contact with one another – often for the first time in many years – but also sometimes be forced to coordinate arrangements related to the death of the parent. When money and prized possessions are at stake, the rancor increases in intensity. Selfishness can replace common sense in an attempt to gain as large a portion of the estate as possible. Do not allow improper acts on the part of others deny your rightful inheritance. Contact online or call the experienced will contest attorneys at The Kamerow Law Firm, PLLC for a free and confidential consultation by calling 703-370-8088.

Can Promises be Enforced without a Contract?

Modern businesses would be unable to carry out daily functions if they were unable to rely on the promises made by suppliers, shippers, and any other firms with whom they transact in goods or services. Consider a manufacturer of cleaning products that relies on the delivery of chemicals by a supplier. These chemicals are to be used as ingredients to manufacture the company’s products in order to, in turn, meet its own delivery obligations to retailers. If the inputs are not delivered, then the manufacturer cannot produce the products promised to the retailers.

The vast majority of the time, businesses execute contracts between themselves and other business entities in order to enforce the promises upon which they rely, but sometimes no contractual agreement surrounds a promise upon which an individual or business entity relies. If the promissor fails to perform, the promissee can suffer detriment as a result.

Promissory Estoppel

The Legal Information Institute at the Cornell University School of Law defines promissory estoppel as “[t]he doctrine allowing recovery on a promise made without consideration when the reliance on the promise was reasonable, and the promissee relied to his or her detriment.” The phrase “without consideration” means that no contract is in effect. Consideration is an element of a contract and refers to some obligation each side owes to the other.

Three elements are necessary for this doctrine to take effect: 1) a promise that the promissor reasonably should expect to produce action or forbearance on the part of the promissee, 2) actual and reasonable reliance on that promise on the part of the promissee, and 3) detriment suffered as a result, the injustice of which can be rectified only by enforcement of the promise. No contractual arrangement is required for this doctrine to be invoked and therefore, it is easier to prove in court than its close cousin, Detrimental Reliance, which does require a contractual arrangement.

In a case that largely contributed to the legal enforcement of a promise based on this principle,  Hoffman v. Red Owl Stores, Inc., 26 Wis.2d 683, 133 N.W.2d 267 (1965), the plaintiff, Hoffman, negotiated with Red Owl Stores to open a franchise store of his own. Red Owl promised to grant Hoffman a franchise upon his tendering $18,000. After Hoffman took action to raise the funds stipulated by Red Owl and to open his store, including selling his bakery, securing a site for the store, and moving his residence, the store chain raised the price. Hoffman sued since the promise made by Red Owl reasonably induced his reliance and he suffered detriment upon Red Owl’s failure to perform by granting the franchise when the agreed upon funds were tendered. The court found in Hoffman’s favor on most of his claims.

Get legal assistance to enforce a promise

If you have suffered some harm because a promise made by another failed to come to fruition and you reasonably relied on that promise to your detriment, do not allow the injustice to stand. The courts of this nation exist to protect private individuals and businesses against the wrongs of others, and precedents set in other cases have paved the way for your recovery. Contact the experienced attorneys at The Kamerow Law Firm, PLLC,for a free and confidential consultation by calling 703-370-8088.

Can I Write My Own Will in Virginia?

While it is possible for a person to write his own will, the act carries with it substantial risk that the testamentary intent of the writer will fail to be carried out accurately. Several rules, many of which can involve other fields of law (such as real estate law), govern the act of leaving property that constitutes one’s estate and require an experienced and licensed professional to accurately navigate the inherent subtleties and complexities, and therefore avoid unpredictable results of probate court.

To better understand the laws pertaining to wills, it must first be understood that the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia, as in virtually all states, do not prioritize escheat. In other words, the law strongly prefers free alienability of property and avoids having property either revert back to the Commonwealth or hang in the balance while the rightful owner is determined. Rather, the law attempts to place this property into the hands of an appropriate party as soon as feasible. A will properly prepared by a licensed attorney avoids unintended testamentary results as created by the law.

Dead Hand Control

Dead hand control is the ability of the testator to define stipulations governing the bequeathing of his property after death. This seemingly harmless and inalienable right is tempered by other rules, which can be very involved, such as the rule specified in the section immediately below. In a landmark case, Shapira v. Union National Bank 39 Ohio Misc. 28, 315 N.E.2d 825, a man willed his son a portion of his estate, but conditioned the inheritance on his son marrying a Jewish woman, whose parents were both born Jewish. The son sued, claiming that the stipulation was a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution. The court upheld the terms of the will since the testator was a private citizen and therefore not required to meet the constitutional standards as would be an arm of the government.

The Rule against Perpetuities

The rule against perpetuities varies by state, but in Virginia, the law provides that:

“A nonvested property interest is invalid unless:

  • When the interest is created, it is certain to vest or terminate no later than twenty-one years after the death of an individual then alive; or
  • The interest either vests or terminates within ninety years after its creation.”

This rule prevents property from being suspended in a state of limbo for an excessive amount of time while the conditions specified by the testator are met. The question of when and how an interest vests can involve complicated issues as well as other areas of law.

Get Legal Assistance

Few people pass at a time that is either convenient or known beforehand. Any person who wishes to divide an estate into parcels of property and leave them to specific heirs, especially to non-family members, must do so with a properly prepared will. Contact online or call the experienced estate planning attorneys at The Kamerow Law Firm, PLLC for a free and confidential consultation by calling 703-370-8088.