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Law Offices of Heath D. Harte, LLC

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The Law Offices of Heath D. Harte would like to wish you all a very Happy Holiday season.  Today, we are re-running one of our most liked blog posts, all about shopping for Real Estate during the Holiday Season.

#RealEstateLaw #Tips #Buying&Selling #RealEstate  
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Own investment property? Thinking about renting it out? Find out what you need to know about becoming a landlord on our blog:

#RealEstateLaw #Investments
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“Friending” and the Law

Social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace continue to grow. These sites have tools to maintain privacy. But is any online content truly private? On Facebook, one permits access to information through a process called “friending.” It is important that your clients “friend” only people they know. What is to stop
a lawyer from “friending” an opposing party to gather information? Ethics? Anyone who indiscriminately accepts “friends” may open the door to a dangerous loss of privacy. Smart lawyers make use of Google and other search tools for many reasons. If a litigant has posted anything relevant to the litigation, it may be admissible as evidence. Further, your client’s online content will allow the op-
posing attorney into their world. This may provide insight into the client’s personality that can work against them.
You should never post anything on the Internet that could some day be embarrassing. Smart employers Google prospective employees. If they find inappropriate photos or words in connection with your name, you are unlikely to receive a job offer. All parents should teach their children that what goes online never really goes away.
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Right to Trial

The Seventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to sue for money damages in court. Because binding arbitration clauses are so prevalent, some fear that Americans are losing access to the civil court system. Binding arbitration is outside this system. If you’ve ever purchased stock, insured your car, taken out a loan, entered into a contract, or bought a home, hidden deep in the mountain of language (that even lawyers don’t bother to read) is verbiage requiring you to forego a lawsuit. Instead, your dispute will be resolved through binding arbitration. Is this good news or bad news? Again, the answer revolves around the identity of the arbitrators. Businesses that use binding arbitration may bring thousands of cases to private arbitration firms. This can produce seri-
ous institutional prejudices in favor of those businesses and against the consumer. Unless you are able to select arbitrators who are fair, binding arbitration can be very bad news!
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Dram Shop Liability
Do you think that businesses that serve alcohol should be liable if one of their customers injures someone
while driving drunk? Dram shop laws establish the liability of liquor stores, taverns, restaurants, and other
businesses that serve alcoholic beverages. A “dram” is a small amount of liquid. Generally, if a business
serves alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person, that business is liable if the person injures someone while drunk.
Serving alcohol to a minor who subsequently causes injury may also result in dram shop liability. Finally, if
a bar serves alcohol to a “habitually intoxicated” person, dram shop liability may apply. The laws vary from
state to state.
Establishing visible intoxication can be challenging. Ideally, the customer will admit to excessive drinking,
but that does not necessarily equate to visible intoxication. Eyewitness testimony can help establish that the
customer was behaving erratically, an indicator of visible intoxication. Police often conduct field sobriety tests
after a crash. This can show that the driver had red and/or watery eyes, alcohol on his or her breath, was unable
to walk steadily, etc. The closer in time these tests are to when the driver was served alcohol, the easier it will be
to prove the driver was visibly intoxicated when served. The blood alcohol reading is another important piece
of the puzzle. An accident reconstruction expert may be able to show that the driver’s speed was extreme. This
is additional proof, albeit indirect (circumstantial), of visible intoxication.
Some criticize these laws based on concern for personal responsibility. They feel that the drunk driver alone
is legally responsible for his her actions. The critically injured plaintiff, though, may wish to pursue a “deep
pocket” (the bar) if the driver’s coverage is inadequate. Bars and restaurants typically have more liability insurance
than individuals. One million dollars is a typical amount. Without this coverage, the bar or restaurant
could be put out of business by a large verdict.
Under joint and several liability laws, the insurer for the business may have to pay the lion’s share of a verdict
if they are proven to be as little as 1% at fault. These laws vary from state. Is this fair? To the business and its
insurer it may not seem so. But it is to the catastrophically injured plaintiff. States that apply a 1% rule consider
it in society’s interest for the injured person to be fully compensated, even if the insurer for a party that was
only minimally responsible has to pay most of the verdict. In most states, including Connecticut, this rule has
been eroded.
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The Fourth Amendment is under attack!

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation…”

Last month a federal appeals court ruled that law enforcement agencies can scan credit, debit and gift cards without running afoul of the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches.
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Since we haven’t published in a couple of weeks, we are taking a break from re-runs. Today, we have a brand-new article for you in our #RealEstateLaw series all about the Contractor’s Lien. #HomeImprovements
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We’re re-running another popular article today, in celebration of our new home. There are many types of housing. In today’s world, many developments are part of a condominium or Homeowners’ Association. In other areas, co-ops are popular. Today, we’re going to discuss these forms of housing, as well as their similarities and differences.

#RealEstateLaw #InvestmentProperty #DeedRestrictions
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