With a Servant’s Heart and a Warrior’s Spirit, We Welcome You.

We welcome you with a Servant’s Heart and a Warrior’s Spirit.  Bienvenidos, Se Habla Espanol.

 

Civil Rights Law:
“My group or I was not treated the same as others.”

civil rights law definition

Words from the Founder:

I remember being a child given a topic in language arts: “What do you want to be when you grow up.” I wrote a Civil Rights Activist.

As I was growing up, I realized that I admired those who had changed humanity for the better through their struggle.

I wanted to learn more about the people who did not simply talk about change but acted upon their convictions.

I did not want to be another person complaining about equality and sitting still while others fought to fix it.

I wanted to learn and be like those brave few who took on the status quo and forced change through action. 

Back then, I did not realize that my civil rights activism would come about primarily the way it did. However, the law is another way I have taken up the cause of equality for all.

What we allow to happen to one of us today becomes commonplace for all of us tomorrow.

I know what it feels like to be treated unequally— Without human dignity.

I have been the victim of discrimination multiple times.

My shoulder has never recovered from the way two police officers hurt me. 

I went to a racist school that shunned you for being too Chicano and talking Spanish. 

Many lawyers can take your Civil Rights case, but how many have been victims of inequality and hate and can use that emotion while pursuing victory? I have, and these experiences will be the fuel that drives this firm while we fight for justice for you.

I have been in your shoes, and I make you a promise that if there is a fight to be undertaken to defend your rights, this firm will fight for you the way I wish someone had fought for me.

If your rights were violated, we would fight for you as if we were fighting for the rights of our kids—because, in a way, we are. When we fight for the civil rights of one, we fight for the civil rights of all.

Civil Rights Attorneys tend the flames of equality and freedom. 

 I volunteered to defend our freedoms in the Marine Corps, and now this firm will protect those rights in the courtroom.

This firm will be Your Champion and do our part in the continuing struggle to make this country the shining city on the hill it is said to be, a light for others to follow.

I took constitutional classes and another class involving the rights the constitution protects in encounters with the police. I did this to ensure this firm would be prepared for these moments.

We Will Fight For Your Family’s Honor.

We Will Get It Done

-JW Zepeda

jw zepeda law firm about

P.S.

No greater love has one than to lay down their life for another, the Lord once said. 

So, we at this firm appreciate and cherish the role law enforcement, the fire department, and especially our military have in our society (We give a discount to service workers). 

And we acknowledge that just because those entities have some terrible actors does not mean that all police are wrong or that all military people are evil.

That is why we must do our part to help shine a light on those who do not belong so they will not stain the Honor of those of us who do.

All industries have bad actors.

 To all who serve us Honorably—We thank you and appreciate your service.

And to those who do not belong, what you do in the shadows will one day find the light.

There will be a reckoning.

Civil rights law claims have a time limit in which they must be brought. Act now.

The information below focuses on injuries. However, if your loved one was killed due to this type of harm, click here.

JW Zepeda san antonio law firm

The Firm’s Founder took constitutional classes and other classes involving the rights the constitution protects in encounters with police.

He did this to make sure this firm would be prepared for these moments and the battles to come.

Civil rights are those rights put forth in the constitution.

We have set civil rights in our constitution to tell the world these are the rights we as a nation believe a person deserves.

Civil rights are the foundation that any government by the people must have. 

The U.S. Constitution protects many civil rights. 

For Example:

  • The freedom of religion

You or your group cannot be treated differently because of the religion you choose to practice.

  • The freedom of speech

Most speech is protected; it depends on what is said and where.

  • The freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures

You cannot be searched or seized for no reason or to harass.

Further explained below, and more elaborated examples.

  • The freedom from excessive bail and cruel and unusual punishments

Bail is excessive when the amount is more than necessary to prevent the defendant from fleeing or posing a danger to society.

An example of cruel and unusual punishment is that you cannot be given the death penalty for a minor crime.

  • The right to Due Process of law, freedom from self-incrimination, and double jeopardy

You cannot be incarcerated or have your things taken from you without going through the same process as others similarly situated would. (A simplified explanation of Due Process)

You can refuse, in most cases, to testify against yourself if doing so would self-incriminate.

You cannot be tried twice in the same type of court for the exact charges if the charges have already been adjudicated (gone through trial). (Double Jeopardy)

  • Specific rights for accused persons
    • For example, The right to a public and speedy trial.
  • The right of trial by jury in civil cases
  • The right to assemble
  • The right for people to gather publicly or privately

Regardless of whether you think you have the money to bring a claim or not, do not let that keep you from contacting our office.

We take most cases on a contingent fee basis.

If we take your case on a contingent fee basis, the case will cost you nothing out of your pocket. We will get paid only if we win, which will be a percentage of your judgment. At no time will you be asked for money out of your pocket.

Civil rights speak of freedoms, liberties, and truths that we, as a country, claim to hold.

These truths tell the world that a person is to be treated the same in this country, no matter what they look like or how much money they have.

If you have been mistreated because of who you are or what you believe, or if you have been discriminated against, left out, hurt, not hired, fired, or treated differently from the masses, this firm stands ready to serve.

If you are a part of a group mistreated because of who they are or what they believe, contact a Civil Rights Attorney now. We Stand Ready To Serve.

Most cases in this field of law grow out of police violence or police’s failure to adhere to proper constitutional protections while dealing with a person or conducting a search.

These are some of the areas that are protected involving your interactions with the police:

  • Searches of you personally

A police officer cannot just search you for no legitimate reason.

For Example, Searches as a means of intimidation or harassment alone is unconstitutional.

  • Searches of your house

 

For Example, A police officer cannot search your home without a warrant, except in minimal circumstances.

  • Searches of cars

 

For Example, A police officer cannot search your whole car for no reason. 

Police officers only have the right to search your car in limited circumstances. Even then, not all cases allow them to explore your glove compartment, middle console, or trunk.

  • Detaining you

 

For Example, A police officer has the right to detain you in limited circumstances. Still, even then, the duration of time is limited.

Suppose the detainment is longer than needed to investigate a specific situation. In that case, it can be considered an unlawful seizure and unconstitutional.

A detainment for purposes of harassment alone is unconstitutional.

  • Arresting you

 

Police officers usually cannot arrest you without a warrant

  • Questioning you

 

For Example, A police officer cannot continue to question you while you are in custody once you clearly say that you no longer want to talk or you want an attorney.

For Example, A police officer must read you your rights, unless it is an emergency, to use your words against you if you are in custody.

Custody: You are considered in custody if a reasonable person in your position would think they are not free to leave.

And many other areas.

If a police officer violated your Civil Rights, you might be able to get released or have your case dismissed.

And get compensated for your troubles. 

Suppose a police officer or government agent sexually assaulted you. In that case, it violates your civil rights aside from being a criminal act.

Prisons torturing, neglecting, abusing, or not protecting inmates violates an inmate’s civil rights.

Although the police usually are the bad guys in these cases, any government entity can violate your civil rights. The police are not the only government entity we can hold accountable.

Any person working at a government entity can be held responsible for violating your rights. Police are just the ones people encounter the most. 

Government entities include agencies and departments of the government. Government entities also include public schools at any level of education. 

Is that to say that a private company or a non-profit can violate your civil rights without getting into trouble? 

For the most part, private companies and non-profits cannot be held liable for violating a civil right. 

They may be held liable for another civil wrong in some cases.

However, there are limited circumstances where private companies, non-profits, and even individuals can be held responsible for violating some civil rights. 

Whether you are a citizen or not, if you were discriminated against, the chances are that discrimination was unconstitutional.

Civil rights remedies, “things you can recover,” vary based on the type of case.

However, no remedies or damages are codified (outlined in law) as to what you can recover; instead, recovery is primarily based on Common-Law.

Below is an example of some Common-Law damages you may be able to recover based on the type of Civil Rights Case you have.

Damages would include any financial loss or damage to reputation that results from the claim.

General Damages (Economic Damages): These are Damages that an attorney does not need to specially plead because they are usually suffered by the type of injury sustained. A characteristic of these Damages is that they are easier to quantify because they are not subjective.

Loss of Income earning ability (known as lost wages):

The injured person would have made money through employment if not injured.

As the name suggests, these damages also apply to the loss of income-earning ability.

Suppose the injured party took a lesser-paying job due to their injuries. 

The amount recoverable is the difference between wages before the injury and now.

These wages are measured from the time of the injury to the time of settlement or jury decision.

Future wages:

If the injured person would never be able to do the same kind of job they had before the injury, and the decrease in pay will be permanent. The injured party may be entitled to the wages they would have earned in the future at the job they had before the injury.

Furthermore, this recovery is for any quantifiable decrease in the injured person’s financial situation due to employment changes. 

For Example:

        • Commissions and bonuses.
        • Any change in benefits.
        •  If a promotion or raise was not given because of the injury.

Medical costs:

These costs will be for past and future medical expenses.

Based on the injury, the injured will need future medical attention. Because the costs are the fault of the liable (this is the civil court equivalent of saying “guilty” in a criminal case) party, that party will be held responsible for these costs.

Special Damages (Non-Economic Damages):

These types of injuries are hard to prove. An attorney must specially plead them because they are unclear to third parties.

Mental anguish (Emotional Distress) (this is the mental effects that came about due to the injury):

The injured party may recover due to past and future mental anguish caused by the injury.

Though this type of injury may be the most devastating, these injuries may not always be recoverable.

The ability to recover from these injuries is very situation specific. It requires a personal injury attorney who knows the law and case law developments. A competent attorney can fight against insurance companies because insurance companies rarely want to give anything significant for mental anguish.

Pain and suffering:

These types of Damages allow recovery for the injured person for the pain and suffering that the injury caused.

Because this injury is personal, it is often hard for others to understand and believe the pain and suffering the injured person went through or is going through.

Proving the pain and suffering is a sell; either the other side will be believed, or we will.

Physical impairment (Loss of enjoyment of life):

This type of Damage may be recoverable if you had an activity that you used to do and now can no longer do due to your physical limitations.

Loss of consortium:

Spousal:

If the injury was so severe as to affect your relationship with your spouse, YOUR SPOUSE MIGHT BE ABLE TO RECOVER under this type of Damages. This type of recovery would be from a separate claim filed by your spouse.

Children:

A CHILD COULD SUE SEPARATELY AND CLAIM THIS TYPE OF DAMAGE if their parent’s injury affected the parent’s role in the child’s life.

Disfigurement:

This type of recovery may be allowed when the injury has physically changed your body.

This type of damage can be for past and future disfigurement.

Any other non-financial harm reasonably associated with the injuries may be recoverable.

Exemplary Damages (Punitive Damages): 

To get exemplary Damages, the person looking for these Damages must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the injury is the result of either:

(1) Fraud.

Fraud: Occurs when a person misrepresents something essential to the bargain while knowing the misrepresentation is false, and the person being lied to is justified in their belief of the lie. And the lie caused Damages.

(2) Malice. 

Malice: Is a specific intent to inflict substantial harm.

(3) Gross negligence.

Gross negligence: An act or omission in which a reasonable person in the wrongdoer’s shoes should have known of the extreme risk due to the probability of significant harm, and the wrongdoer knew of the risk and consciously disregarded the risk. 

Unless these Damages are looked for under a statute that authorizes them, then clear and convincing evidence must show the matters and mental state of the statute conditions.

The jury must receive instructions on these Damages and be unanimous in their desire to award such Damages.

Clear and convincing: Proof that would impart a “firm belief or conviction” if the evidence was presented to a reasonable person.

 

The Damages that may be possible for your family due to a Wrongful Death Claim are Compensatory Damages and Exemplary Damages.

Compensatory Damages:

– Victim’s work wages they would have likely earned.

– Loss of consortium.

For Spouses or People who have a marriage-like relationship but are not legally married: A spouse may be able to recover for no longer having their spouse.

For Children: A child may recover from no longer having their parent.

For Parents: A Parent may recover for the loss of a child if the death was caused by negligence.

– Loss of inheritance: What the deceased may have left to his family after a lifetime of earning.

– Pain and emotional or mental distress of the family left behind.

– Loss of companionship and society: This type of Damage may be awarded for losing a loved one.

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There are many defenses to civil cases, but not all will pertain to every case.

For Example:

        Consent: The person suing allowed the harm to occur or the actions that led to the injury. The victim can give consent expressly (orally or written) or implied (by actions). Consent has other considerations that can waive the defense based on the circumstances or capacity of the victim.

        Absolute privilege: Certain positions allow people to act in a way that would otherwise be an actionable tort (a civil action due to harm) and not be held liable for injury caused.

        

        Qualified privilege: This is like an absolute privilege but is limited in scope.



How to deal with insurance companies:

 

People get insurance to cover harm caused to others and themselves, and we all usually have insurance.

Most of us have the impression that insurance companies are in business to help when unexpected expenses arise or tragedies happen, but that is not the purpose of insurance companies.

 

The purpose of insurance companies is to make money, like any other business.

 

So, the less money the insurance pays out, the more money they make. That is only common sense.

 

No matter how nice the person representing the insurance company is, or if you have already dealt with the insurance company and think they are the exception and care for their clients. The insurance company’s primary goal is to find a way not to pay your claim, with few exceptions.

 

Some insurance companies rely on scare tactics and threats to make you think you must settle or force you to pay out of pocket.

 

Follow these rules when dealing with insurance companies:

 

  • Contact an attorney first when you need to call an insurance company due to an injury, wrongful death, or property damage.
  •  If the insurance company calls you, tell them you have nothing to say before finding legal representation.
  • Contact an attorney and tell them that the insurance company called you.
  • Never give the insurance company any requested information or document without consulting an attorney.
  • Only accept the offer or settlement the insurance company offers after consulting an attorney.
  • Call an attorney immediately if your insurance company says you must pay out of pocket.

 

Calling an attorney is always possible, even if you have already talked to an insurance company.

           

Attorneys are legally obligated to put your interest above all else in matters involving you.

           

Insurance representatives who are contacting you are professional negotiators.

The above information is just part of the puzzle. A competent attorney must consider all this and more in Civil Rights Cases.

It is said sunshine is the best disinfectant, which the law does. It shines the light on dangerous items, situations, and people.

Legal disputes are the primary way companies and individuals learn from their mistakes.

Legal disputes make the world safer for the next person while at the same time getting you the justice you deserve.

I assure you that this firm will take this type of claim personally because we treasure your justice, and we could save the next person from harm or death.

Your Justice Awaits. This Firm Will Be Your Champion And Fight For Your Family’s Honor.

We Will Get It Done.