Tuesday, June 26, 2018

21 Need-To-Know Legal Terms

Legal shows are a viewer favorite. From the dramatic findings to interested characters, ratings soar with this type of entertainment. While some proceedings on television are accurate, many are not. You may familiarize yourself with some legal terms throughout your viewings, but our law firm at the Lake of the Ozarks is here to help set the record straight. If you are involved in a legal case, you may need to familiarize yourself with common legal terms. Take a look below to find some popular legal terms you should know (and their definition).

1) Misdemeanor: A crime less serious than a felony, punishable by or imprisonment for less than a year.

2) Punitive Damages: Damages awarded over and above compensatory damages for punishment.

3) Liability: The state of being responsible for an action, according to the law. When the fault is placed, the individual or business is liable for the wrongful occurrence.

4) Affidavit: A written or printed statement made under oath.

5) Statute: A written law passed by Congress or another legislative body.

6) Tort: From the French word for “wrong,” a tort is a wrongful or illegal act, whether intentional or accidental, in which an injury occurs to another.

7) Testify: When a witness or other individual is asked to orally present evidence during a trial. Someone who witnessed an incident may be asked to testify, as well as an individual who has been acquainted with the person on trial in the past.

8) Prima Facie Case: A case where, upon first look, the facts themselves prove the case.

9) Felony: A serious crime punishable by death or at least one year in a state or federal prison.

10) Depose: To testify or give under oath or sworn affidavit.

11) Discovery: The compulsory disclosure, by a party to an action, of relevant documents referred to by the other party.

12) Plaintiff: A person who brings a lawsuit. A plaintiff is the one who seeks to recover damages for a wrong committed by a defendant.

13) Defendant: A defendant is a person accused of committing a crime by the plaintiff.

14) Acquittal: A jury verdict that a criminal defendant is not guilty, or the finding of a judge that the evidence is insufficient to support a conviction.

15) Bail: The release, prior to trial, of a person accused of a crime, under specified conditions designed to assure that person's appearance in court when required.

16) Plea: In a criminal case, the defendant's statement pleading "guilty" or "not guilty" in answer to the charges. See also nolo contendere.

17) Statute of Limitations: The time within which a lawsuit must be filed or a criminal prosecution began. The deadline can vary, depending on the type of civil case or the crime charged.

18) Appeal: A request made after a trial by a party that has lost on one or more issues that a higher court review the decision to determine if it was correct.

19) Due process: In criminal law, the constitutional guarantee that a defendant will receive a fair and impartial trial. In civil law, the legal rights of someone who confronts an adverse action threatening liberty or property.

20) Jurisdiction: The legal authority of a court to hear and decide a certain type of case. It can also mean the geographic area over which the court has territorial jurisdiction to decide cases.

21) Verdict: The decision of a trial jury or a judge that determines the guilt or innocence of a criminal defendant, or that determines the final outcome of a civil case.

Whether you are simply curious if you know these legal terms or you have an upcoming case on your hands, it's important to know what these common terms in the legal world mean. As your experienced lawyer at the Lake of the Ozarks, we can help you navigate your case. Whether it's a personal injury case, a family law case, or a criminal case, contact Gibbons Law Firm today. We can help walk you through the legal process you are about to encounter. Remember, your first consultation with our law firm is FREE!

Remember, your initial consultation with Gibbons Law Firm is always free.

Your Trusted Legal Resource

Gibbons Law Firm
2820 Bagnell Dam Blvd, Suite B4
Lake Ozark, MO 65049
(573) 348-2211

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Thursday, June 21, 2018

Factors that Determine Child Custody in a Divorce

Going through a divorce with children can be an especially trying time for you and your spouse. As your main concern is your child, it's important to determine the custody arrangement. While traditionally the mother would receive the majority of custodial rights, that traditional situation is changing. If both parents are fit and prepared to take care of the kids involved, a more even custody arrangement may be the resolution.

As you navigate the divorce process, you may want the help of an experienced divorce attorney near Lake of the Ozarks. Here at Gibbons Law Firm, we can offer legal advice as you determine the custody situation for your children. Whether you are the mother or the father, it's important that you know your rights and our Lake of the Ozarks lawyer can help fight to protect them. Take a look below to find a few of the factors that can help determine the child custody arrangement during a divorce.

Factors that Can Determine Child Custody:

1. Involvement In The Child's Life

No matter what your child's age is, he needs a parent who will be there to support him. Whether that support comes in the form of attending little league baseball games or helping him fill out college applications, the Court will want to see that you have been actively involved in your child's life in the past, that you continue to stay involved during the divorce proceedings, and that you can be trusted to remain involved in the future.

2. Lifestyle

Some lifestyles easily lend themselves to caring for a child, and others do not. If you routinely work 60 hours a week and frequently travel for work, for example, the Court may decide that you will not be able to dedicate appropriate time to raise your child and award primary custody to the other parent.

3. The Child's Wishes

If your child is old enough to express her opinion, her wishes will likely factor heavily in the Court's ultimate decision. The child must be able to articulate the reason for her opinion, and if the reason is valid, the Court may be inclined to oblige.

4. Stable Environment

Children need stability and consistency in order to thrive. If you change residences frequently or regularly have new romantic partners, this may negatively impact your odds of being awarded custody. The Court will want to see that you can provide a stable home for your child.

Types of Custody:

1. Sole legal custody

One parent has the decision-making rights, responsibilities, and authority relating to the health, education, and welfare of the child.  The parent that has sole legal custody must keep the other parent apprised of decisions/issues related to the health, education, and welfare of the child.

2. Joint physical custody

This involves an arrangement whereby each of the parents are awarded significant, but not necessarily equal, periods of time during which a child resides with or is under the care and supervision of each of the parents.  Joint physical custody must be shared by the parents in such a way as to assure the child of frequent, continuing and meaningful contact with both parents.  A number of custody arrangements are possible with a joint physical custody arrangement.  The arrangements can include an equal split of time with the children to a situation whereby one parent has custody every other weekend with extended time in the summer.

3. Sole physical custody

Only one parent is awarded custody of the child.  This generally occurs when one of the parents is deemed unfit to have custody of the child for one or more reasons.

Now that you know about some of the factors that come into consideration when deciding custody of your child, you are better prepared to prove your side of the case. At the end of the day, it's important to prove that you and the environment your child will be in are both stable and safe. Your child's safety and happiness are held in high regard as the judge will determine the right custody arrangement for your child. If you are planning to get a divorce at the Lake of the Ozarks and children are involved, contact Gibbons Law Firm today. We can help guide you through the entire process - from filing to custody arrangements. Don't forget, your first consultation with our law firm is always FREE!

Remember, your initial consultation with Gibbons Law Firm is always free.

Your Trusted Legal Resource

Gibbons Law Firm
2820 Bagnell Dam Blvd, Suite B4
Lake Ozark, MO 65049
(573) 348-2211

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Thursday, June 14, 2018

Steps to Take if You Are Involved in a Car Wreck

About six million car accidents happen each year and one-third of them result in a personal injury. That's a lot! With a high number of car wrecks happening, it's important to know what steps you should take if you are involved in one. Whether you are driving or a passenger, these steps can be helpful. As your personal injury lawyer at the Lake of the Ozarks, our law firm wants to help you know your rights. If you are involved in an accident in mid-Missouri, legal representation can help you navigate through your case. Take a look at the steps below to take, if you are involved in a vehicle wreck.

Ensure All Parties are Safe

Right after an accident happens, make sure all parties are ok. If able to, move vehicles off the road to help avoid a traffic jam. Once you've made sure all parties are safe and out of harm's way, you can start to gather information.

Notify Authorities

If you or someone else is injured and needs medical attention, call 911 right away. An ambulance can help treat an injured party and ensure they receive the proper attention required for their injury. It's also important to notify the police of an accident. They will want to conduct an accident report and will need to be on the scene to evaluate.

Gather Information

If everyone seems ok, you can start gathering information. If you are able, take down names, car types, license, and insurance information from all involved parties. Also, gather information from any witnesses to the accident. Be courteous and polite during this process, but don't admit fault. It can be helpful to photograph the damage to all vehicles and the scene, if possible.

Request a Tow

If you are unable to drive your vehicle away from the scene, contact a tow company right away. If your vehicle is on the side of the road or even some parking lots for any length of time, you may get a fine. Getting your vehicle out of the way is important, especially if it is obstructing traffic.

Notify Insurance

As soon as possible, contact your insurance company and notify them of the incident. This can help get the process started with your claim. Provide as much information as possible to your insurer and follow their directions as to what your next steps will be.

Document the Accident

As soon as you are able, document the entire accident. Write down what happened from your perspective. Also note any outside conditions that may have impacted the situation - weather, other traffic, etc.

Request Incident Reports

After the accident, request the incident report from the responding authorities. These reports are filed by the police and may take a few days to be completed. Try to get this information as soon as possible to assist with your insurance claim.

Contact a Personal Injury Attorney

If you or another party was injured during this collision, it's important to know your rights. An experienced lawyer can help protect your rights and guide you through the legal process you may encounter.

It's important to know your rights if you are involved in an accident. Following these steps can help keep you and anyone else involved safe. Here at Gibbons Law Firm, we can help you navigate through your personal injury case at the Lake of the Ozarks. Contact our Lake of the Ozarks law firm today to schedule your first consultation with us!

Remember, your initial consultation with Gibbons Law Firm is always free.

Your Trusted Legal Resource

Gibbons Law Firm
2820 Bagnell Dam Blvd, Suite B4
Lake Ozark, MO 65049
(573) 348-2211

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Friday, June 8, 2018

5 Ways a Lawyer Can Assist with Your Rental Property

Are you planning on becoming a landlord? Whether you already own rental property or are thinking about buying a building to rent out, there are a number of legal issues that can arise. As your experienced Lake of the Ozarks lawyer, Roger Gibbons can help with your situation in a number of ways. If you are unsure if you will hire an attorney near Lake Ozark, MO or not, take a look below to find just a few of the ways a lawyer can help you out!

Ways a Lawyer can Assist a Landlord:

1) Evicting a Tenant

It can be tough to evict a tenant. Even with a good reason, getting a renter out can be tricky. You have to give a certain length of time for a tenant to get their belongings out of your rental. If they are reluctant, it can be a long process. It's important to consult a lawyer at the Lake of the Ozarks if you plan to evict a tenant. An experienced lawyer can help walk you through the process and let you know what rights you have as a landlord.

2) Tenant Fails to Make Payments

If you are struggling to get payment from your tenant, you may have to take legal action. Give your renter a reasonable length of time to make the payment. Try to work with them as to when they can pay you. If you make an effort to get the payment from the tenant, it shows that you are willing to negotiate and work with them. If you are past the point of working it out, a lawyer may need to be involved.

3) Renter is Injured and Holds You Responsible

A renter may get injured on your property and claim you should be responsible for the accident. This is a tough situation to be in and you should consult legal assistance as soon as you are accused. Getting a lawyer involved can help guide you as to how you should proceed and if you have a case or not. A way to avoid this situation is to help ensure your rental property is safe for your tenants before an issue arises.

4) Ensure Lease is Accurate

Before someone rents your property, it's important they sign a lease. This is a legal contract between the landlord and the renter. As with any legal document, a lawyer should look over this paperwork before you have your tenant sign it. This documentation can help legally protect you in the future, should you need it.

5) Tenant Causes Damage to Property

Most lease agreements state who should be responsible for maintenance and damage to the property. Typically, the owner is responsible for normal wear and tear and the tenant is responsible for any significant damage they cause. If the tenant does not repair the damage they cause, they may be responsible for paying for the damage to be repaired.

Tips for a Troublesome Tenants:

Conduct A Thorough Background Screening - The best way to avoid challenges with your tenants is screen prospective tenants to filter out applicants who may be more likely to cause trouble.

Have Both Parties Sign A Comprehensive Lease - A proper lease agreement is the foundation of a successful landlord-tenant relationship. Your lease agreement should clearly outline all expectations tenants are expected to meet.

Keep A Written Record Of All Correspondence - As you work with your tenant, it is wise to keep a written record of all communication.

Consider Eviction As A Last Resort - When your tenant violates your lease agreement or becomes problematic in another manner, your first approach should often be to simply talk with them.

Document All Payment Activity - As a landlord, it is essential that you keep thorough documentation of your tenants' payment activity.

Now that you've read about a few of the common situations that can arise when you own rental property, you know a few of the dangers that may be ahead. Renting can be a prosperous venture but there are a few circumstances in which you need to protect yourself and your property. It's important to know all of your legal options if you plan to be a landlord at the Lake of the Ozarks. Give Gibbons Law Firm a call today to see how we can help with your unique landlord/tenant situation.

Remember, your initial consultation with Gibbons Law Firm is always free.

Your Trusted Legal Resource

Gibbons Law Firm
2820 Bagnell Dam Blvd, Suite B4
Lake Ozark, MO 65049
(573) 348-2211

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