Tuesday, July 30, 2019

The Basics to Personal Injury Law

The purpose of personal injury law is to allow an injured person to receive compensation financially or to be “made whole” after he or she has suffered harm because of someone else’s carelessness. If you feel like you have been injured because of the actions of someone else, it’s time to speak with a personal injury lawyer at the Lake of the Ozarks. Here are a few basics you need to know about personal injury law as you get started.

Personal Injury Law Basics

Because there are many different cases that can count as personal injury, it’s important to know what the basics are. The best route is to speak with your lawyer at the Lake of the Ozarks, but until your appointment, here is something to get you started.

An accident would be a case where someone is acting negligently, and their carelessness causes harm to someone else. The most common examples can include car accidents, slip and fall incidents, and medical malpractice - among others.

Intentional Acts
If personal injury comes from the result of a defendant’s intentional conduct, it could be a case for personal injury. The most common causes of this are in assault and battery.

Defective Products
Defective products can create a situation where a defendant could be found liable for injuries without intentional wrongdoing or neglect.

This personal injury case is less about physical injury and more about the harm that has been caused to another person’s reputation.

How Does a Personal Injury Case Work?

There are many different types of personal injury cases, so each one will have differences. However, there are some standard steps that most personal injury cases share in the overall big picture.

Defendant Does Something That Injures Plaintiff
This situation can be almost any bad act on the part of the defendant. The only exception is with contractual breaches, which are then handled under a separate body of law known as “contract law.”

Plaintiff Determines that Defendant Breached a Legal Duty
The definition of “legal duty” will depend on the situation in which the injury occurred. Some examples could include that a driver has a duty to operate their vehicles with a certain level of care. Doctors also have a duty to provide medical care with a certain level of competence that could be expected from any skilled health care professional. Manufacturers and distributors are responsible to not put defective or unreasonably dangerous products on the market.

Settlement Talks Occur
When it has become clear to all involved that the defendant breached their legal duty, it will be time to discuss a settlement. This may happen outside of court. It involves making an offer of monetary compensation to the injured individual. In exchange, the injured person makes a binding promise not to file a lawsuit over the injury.

From here, the plaintiff can agree to a settlement and the case will end. If not, the plaintiff may go to court and file a personal injury lawsuit over the situation.

Personal Injury Law at the Lake of the Ozarks

When you’ve been involved in a personal injury case, it can be hard to see the end of the tunnel. One of the most important things you can do for your case is to hire a personal injury lawyer at the Lake of the Ozarks. If you have questions about your case, please visit my website to learn more about my history as a prosecuting attorney for the State of Missouri, and about my private practice which I’ve been engaged in since 1992. I serve the entire Lake of the Ozarks area including Osage Beach, Lake Ozark, Camdenton, Macks Creek, Richland, Linn Creek, Greenview, Sunrise Beach, Climax Springs, Edwards, Montreal, Eldon, Brumley, Tuscumbia, Laurie, Ivy Bend, Gravois Mills, Stover, Versailles, Syracuse, and St. Elizabeth. Give me a call at 573-348-2211 for a free consultation with Gibbons Law Firm.

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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Wednesday, July 24, 2019

The Progression of a Criminal Law Case

Criminal defense consists of affording persons accused of a crime with the legal protections that they are entitled to under the United States and Missouri Constitutions and the laws of this state. Law enforcement agencies and prosecutors have extensive resources at their disposal to pursue criminal prosecutions. For that reason, and because a criminal offense often carries the potential of a lengthy incarceration, heavy fines, and other penalties, a favorable outcome of a criminal case at the Lake of the Ozarks often depends on representation by a qualified and experienced attorney.

Here are how a criminal law case will begin and proceed over time.


A criminal prosecution typically starts with an arrest by a police officer. There are a few reasons why a police officer may arrest a person. One case would be if the officer observes the person committing a crime. Another would be if the officer has a probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed by that person. Another situation would be if the officer makes the arrest under the authority of a valid arrest warrant. Once the arrest has occurred, the police will book the suspect and place them in custody. If only a minor offense was committed, there’s a chance that the police may issue a citation to the suspect with instructions to reappear in court at a set date.


If a suspect in police custody is granted bail, the suspect may pay the bail amount in exchange for a release. However, the release is contingent on the suspects promises to appear at the court proceedings that follow. Sometimes bail may be granted immediately after booking, or it could be at a later bail review hearing. A suspect could also be released on his own recognizance.

If a suspect is released on his own recognizance, bail is not required, but a written agreement to appear at all scheduled court dates is a requirement. Own recognizance release is generally granted after the court considers the seriousness of the offense that was committed, as well as the criminal record, threat to the community, and ties to family and employment.


This is where the suspect will make their first appearance at the arraignment. During this time, the judge will read the charges filed against the defendant in the complaint, and the defendant chooses to either plead “guilty,” “not guilty,” or “no contest” to the charges. This is also when the judges will review the defendant’s bail and set dates for the future proceedings.

Preliminary Hearing

This could be by a “bill of information” secured by a preliminary hearing or by a grand jury indictment. Cases must be brought by indictment in the federal system, but states are free to use either process.

Pre-Trial Motions

Pre-trial motions are brought by the prosecution and the defense. The goal is to resolve all final issues and establish what evidence and testimony will be used in the trial.


At the trial, the judge or the jury will either determine that the defendant is guilty or not guilty. The prosecution will bear the burden of proof in a criminal trial. This means that the prosecutor has to prove without any doubt that the defendant committed the crimes charged. The defendant does have a constitutional right to a jury trial in many criminal matters. A judge or jury will make the final determination of guilt or innocence after listening to opening and closing statements, examination, as well as the cross-examination of witnesses and jury instructions.

In the case that a jury failed to come to a unanimous verdict, the judge could declare a mistrial, which means that the case will either be dismissed or a new jury will be chosen. Of course, if the judge or jury finds the defendant guilty, the court will then sentence the defendant.


At this point in a criminal case, the court will assign the appropriate punishment for the convicted defendant. To determine a suitable sentence, the court will then consider several factors. This could include several different factors, like the nature and severity of the crime, the defendant’s criminal history, the defendant’s personal circumstances, as well as the degree of remorse that is felt by the defendant.


At long last, an individual convicted of a crime may ask that his or her case be reviewed by a higher court. If the court finds that there was an error in the case or the sentence imposed - the court may reverse the conviction or find that the case needs to be re-tried.

Criminal Defense at the Lake of the Ozarks

Gibbons Law Firm represents clients in all types of felony and misdemeanor cases. We have successfully tried hundreds of criminal cases of all types, and we are committed to providing clients with criminal defense services that will ensure their rights are protected and they are treated fairly. Find out more about how we can assist you by contacting our Firm and making an appointment today. Call for a free consultation - 573-348-2211

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, July 18, 2019

FAQs About Writing A Will

Did you know that 55% of American adults do NOT have a will or other estate plan in place? These statistics are even higher among minorities, with 68% of black adults and 74% of Hispanic adults not having a Will. While many assume that this is something for the Baby Boomers to worry about, Millennials need to get serious about wills and estate planning as well. You don’t have to have a lot of assets, or even own a home to make this a valuable step. If you are ready to create a Will at the Lake of the Ozarks, here are a few frequently asked questions to show you both the value of having one, as well as the ease in creating one.

What is a Will?

A will is a written legal document that states what you want to be done after you die. This can cover various topics, from what will happen to your belongings (your estate), to who will care for any minor children.

A will only become effective when it has been signed by both you and two witnesses, in the state of Missouri.

What Happens If I Die Without a Will?

If you die without a Will, (aka intestate), your property will be distributed according to state laws. It will not go to the government as long as you have a living relative who can claim your state. However, if you die intestate, it can make the process much harder and longer. Your estate will go to your relatives in this order:

(1) The surviving spouse receives:

  (a) The entire intestate estate if there is no surviving issue of the decedent;

  (b) The first twenty thousand dollars in value of the intestate estate, plus one-half of the balance of the intestate estate, if there are surviving issue, all of whom are also issue of the surviving spouse;

  (c) One-half of the intestate estate if there are surviving issue, one or more of whom are not issue of the surviving spouse;  

(2) The part not distributable to the surviving spouse, or the entire intestate property, if there is no surviving spouse, shall descend and be distributed as follows:

  (a) To the decedent's children, or their descendants, in equal parts;

  (b) If there are no children, or their descendants, then to the decedent's father, mother, brothers and sisters or their descendants in equal parts;

  (c) If there are no children, or their descendants, father, mother, brother or sister, or their descendants, then to the grandfathers, grandmothers, uncles and aunts or their descendants in equal parts;

  (d) If there are no children or their descendants, father, mother, brother, sister, or their descendants, grandfather, grandmother, uncles, aunts, nor their descendants, then to the great-grandfathers, great-grandmothers, or their descendants, in equal parts; and so on, in other cases without end, passing to the nearest lineal ancestors and their children, or their descendants, in equal parts; provided, however, that collateral relatives, that is, relatives who are neither ancestors nor descendants of the decedent, may not inherit unless they are related to the decedent at least as closely as the ninth degree, the degree of kinship being computed according to the rules of the civil law; that is, by counting upward from the decedent to the nearest common ancestor, and then downward to the relative, the degree of kinship being the sum of these two counts, so that brothers are related in the second degree;

(3) If there is no surviving spouse or kindred of the decedent entitled to inherit, the whole shall go to the kindred of the predeceased spouse who, at the time of the spouse's death, was married to the decedent, in like course as if such predeceased spouse had survived the decedent and then died entitled to the property, and if there is more than one such predeceased spouse, then to go in equal shares to the kindred of each predeceased spouse;

(4) If no person is entitled to inherit as provided in this section the property shall escheat as provided by law.

Who Can Witness My Will?

Your signature to the Will must be witnessed by two people over the age of 18. They must both be present when you sign your will, and the witnesses must also sign the Will in your presence.

Where Should I Keep My Will?

You should keep your Will safely at home or lodged with a solicitor or a bank.

When Should You Modify Your Current Will?

You should review your will once a year. There are other occasions to review your will and these include:

  • If your marital status changes
  • If the property you own changes significantly and you made specific gifts of that property
  • If you adopt or have additional children
  • If your child dies, leaving children
  • If you move to a different state
  • If any of your beneficiaries die
  • If the person you name as personal guardian for your minor children or manager for their property is no longer able to serve
  • If the person named as your personal representative (executor) is no longer able to serve
  • If you change your mind about the provisions in your prior will
  • If your witnesses move away, die or are no longer competent
  • Your will is valid until revoked. You can revoke a will by making a new will. Your will can also be revoked if it is destroyed

What are Guardianships and Trusts for Minor Children?

A minor child MUST have an adult guardian unless a court has declared he is legally “emancipated.” Normally, the surviving spouse becomes the personal guardian of your minor child. However, parents should agree on who they want to be appointed as the personal guardian of their children in case both parents die simultaneously.

In the case of divorced or separated parents, the surviving parent will generally have the best claim to be the guardian of their child, although anyone may challenge a person’s petition to be the guardian of a child. If the surviving parent is unavailable, the courts will give great weight to the preference contained in the deceased parent’s will.

The Truth About Wills

The fact is, everyone dies eventually, but not everyone leaves a last will and testament. Many don’t even know how to go about making one. If you are confused about you will, you are not alone, but talking with an attorney at the Lake of the Ozarks who is experienced in this area is a perfect first step.

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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Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Common Personal Injury Cases in Summer

The summer season is well known for being busy, active, and adventurous. People of all ages are glad for the warm weather, and get the seasonal itch to get outdoors and stretch their wings. While it's great to have some summer fun, you don’t want to forget that some summer activities can come with a certain level of risk of injury. Here are a few common injury types that have people calling a personal injury lawyer at the Lake of the Ozarks during the summer.

Car Accidents

During the summer months, you don’t have to contend with the risky driving weather that snow and ice bring - but that doesn’t eliminate other risks. Summer driving can be a common time for accidents, and according to an old study by the Insurance Information Institute, August had the highest number of accidents. Nicer weather means that more people will be out and about, which can increase the risk of car accidents. Some of these accidents can include more teen drivers on the road since they aren’t in school, as well more people being out for summer parties, family reunions, and summer vacations. More summer parties can also mean that more people could be drinking and driving, as well.

Heat-Related Injuries & Illnesses

Spending time outside on incredibly hot days can mean that it’s even more important to take steps to prevent heat stroke. If you are an employer with employees who work outside, it’s incredibly important to make sure that your staff (specifically construction workers or landscapers) are taking proper precautions to stay cool and hydrated. According to OSHA, more than 40% of heat-related worker deaths occur in the construction industry.

If you are an employer, it will be your responsibility to make sure that your outdoor workers are protected from the heat by providing access to water and shade, as well as the opportunity for plenty of breaks.

Bicycle & Motorcycle Accidents

The beautiful weather makes it nearly impossible for cyclists of all kinds to not get out on the road. From motorcycles to a standard bicycle, it is very easy for riders to become the victim of an accident. Because bicycles and motorcycles are less visible and other vehicles, drivers need to be on high alert for cyclists during the summer months. If you are a cyclist, one of the best things you can do is to wear proper safety gear and fits, use reflectors, and have a good helmet.

Boating Accidents

At the Lake of the Ozarks, it’s no surprise to see hundreds and thousands of boats out on the water, especially during the peak summer months and busy holiday weekends. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take much for a fun day on the water to turn dangerous - especially when drinks are involved. Alcohol use is one of the top factors in fatal boating accidents, so if you are operating the boat, you’ll want to skip the alcohol. Even if your passengers are good swimmers, you’ll want to make sure that they always wear life jackets while on board.

Playground Accidents

The weather s nice, the kids are out of school, and it’s the perfect time to burn that extra energy off. It’s not uncommon for parents and caretakers to take kids to the playground, but every year, tens of thousands of children are rushed to the emergency room because of injuries that came from playing on a playground. Many cases come from children simply playing around, however, many of them also occur because of issues with the playground equipment. This could be caused by the equipment not being maintained or it could be because there isn't enough surface protection to keep kids safe if they fall. Make sure you take a look at any playground equipment before letting children play on it, just to make sure things are safe and secure.

Personal Injury Cases at the Lake of the Ozarks

Mishaps and accidents are not always avoidable, and they can lead to injuries which may fit within a personal injury case. If you have been injured, it’s important to call your Lake of the Ozarks lawyer, to see how we can help you through this challenging time.

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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Starting a Business for Independent Retailer Month

It all starts with an idea and before you know it, you will find yourself following the American dream with a business of your own. July is Independent Retailer Month, and while you may not initially think about sitting down with a lawyer before you get started, starting up a conversation with your local Lake of the Ozarks lawyer can be just what you need to get your business started on the right foot. Here are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind as you start a new business, and how Gibbons Law Firm can help you with the process.

Start Thinking About the Legal Aspects from the Start

It’s easy at the beginning to get carried away with the exciting aspects. From business cards to social media pages - these creative avenues are the “fun” parts, helping you appear to launch your business quickly. However, you really need to take time to contemplate the legal aspects from the start to help get your business on a firm foundation from the ground up. The most common legal issues that may arise for an entrepreneur would include a choice of entity, business licenses, supply and service contracts, and employee matters. You may not feel like you can look several months ahead to pinpoint what could happen, but your business will thank you.

Keep Your Emotions In Check

One hard part about managing a business is that you can’t take lawsuits and threats against your business personally. If or when you find yourself in these positions, you have to make the right decision for your business. It’s important to have someone providing insight for when it’s better to pursue a legal battle versus avoiding it. This is why it’s so important to find a lawyer at the Lake of the Ozarks who you can trust, which leads us to our next point.

Make Your Legal Connections Early

When you establish a relationship early on with a legal provider, you will have someone you can quickly reach out to when you need help with a legal challenge. Having a plan in place with a legal counselor will be a valuable asset which you and your business can be thankful for years down the road.

Do Not Use Your Personal Bank Account

There are many, many business professionals who will say that you should not mix personal and business finances. Still, many business owners make the mistake of using their personal bank account for their business expenses. Just because it seems overwhelming to manage multiple bank accounts at once doesn’t mean that it won’t pay off in the long run. The fact is, using your personal account for business impacts your legal liability. If you are using one account for everything, make your goal this week to get a separate account and clean things up between the two.

Get it In Writing

Finally, one very important legal lesson in business is to put almost everything down on paper. This can include negotiating salary to redesigning your office space - if it is a defining and memorializing aspect of your business, you’ll be glad it was in writing. These agreements should be well defined, signed by all parties. If you are starting a business with co-founders, you will want to get written confirmation between yourself and your partners. It feels kind to be trusting, but clear contracts simplify those work relationships, it’s the lack of a written plan that can take a good relationship and make it sour.

Your Lake of the Ozarks Area Law Firm

We would like to represent you, whether you are a brand new business just starting up - or a business that has been well-established and needs new representation. We have a very wide and diverse group of clients, from individuals, employees, builders, contractors, homeowners, lenders, and definitely small business owners. Because July is Independent Retailer Month, if you have been dreaming about a new business and are ready to get it up off the ground, we would love to chat with you. The earlier you get legal representation involved, the easier it can be when you find yourself needing it.

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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