Know your rights: You are not liable if someone gets ill watching your 3D television

By Richard Alderman
Nov. 3, 2012 at 6:03 a.m.

Can I be liable if someone watching my 3D television has a medical condition that causes him to get ill and need medical treatment? A friend of mine ended up in the hospital because of his reaction. I had no idea he had this condition or couldn't watch 3D television.

I thought I had been asked almost every question, but this is a first. As a general rule, a person is not liable just because an accident occurs on his property or someone gets sick or hurt. To impose liability, it must be shown that the owner was "negligent." Negligence means not exercising ordinary care and safety to protect the person from an injury. For example, if you knew that your friend had a condition that would be affected by the TV, you probably had a duty to warn him or not let him watch the television and could be liable if you didn't. On the other hand, most people can watch 3D television with no problems, and you have no liability if a person were to become ill due to an unknown condition.

I have been married for two years. I'm now getting a divorce. There is no property or custody to fight over, but I would like the wedding ring I gave my wife. It was very expensive, and I am still paying for it. Do I need to get a lawyer to have her turn over the ring?

In my opinion, you are not going to get the ring, with or without a lawyer. Generally, the person who received the ring keeps it after a divorce. The ring is considered a gift to that person. Even if you are paying for it, it is the other person's property. A lawyer may be able to help arrange a better divorce settlement, but you should weigh the costs of a lawyer against the value of the ring.

Is it still true that when children turn 12 years old they can choose which parent they want to live with after a divorce, or does the judge decide?

The judge will decide, but the judge gives a great deal of weight to what a child over the age of 12 says. The bottom line, however, is the court will do what is in the best interest of the child.

What do I do if the tenant who lives above me is always very loud at all hours of the night? I have complained numerous times to the apartment manager. My lease is up in three months. Please help!

Under the law, a landlord owes a tenant the right to "quiet enjoyment." This means the landlord must take reasonable steps to get the neighbor to quiet down so you can enjoy your apartment. I suggest you talk with the neighbor, and if he doesn't stop, make a formal complaint to the landlord. Send it by certified mail. Let the landlord know the nature of the problem and that you expect him to take steps to stop the noise. Depending on the nature and timing of the noise, the police may also be of assistance. If the landlord does not get them to be quiet, you may have the right to break your lease.

My aunt raised me since I was born. I always considered her my mother and even called her mom. She recently died without a will, and her son says he inherits all her property. I know she would have wanted me to have half her property. What are my legal rights?

Unless your aunt adopted you or had a will naming you as a beneficiary, you have no legal right to share in her estate. Even though she treated you like a son, the law says that without a will her property goes to her son.

How long does bad information stay on my credit report?

Negative information becomes "obsolete" after seven years and generally is no longer reported. I should add that the time runs from when the information is first reported. Even if the account is sold or transferred to a new debt collector, the information is not "re-aged" and the seven years does not begin again.

Richard Alderman, a consumer advocate popularly known as "the People's Lawyer," is a professor at the University of Houston Law School in Houston. His column appears weekly in the Victoria Advocate. Write to him at UH Law Center, Houston, Texas 77204-6391. He also maintains a Web page at



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