Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Springfield Missouri Rental Car Accident Attorney

Springfield Missouri Rental Car Accident Attorney

Accident in a rental car, am I covered?
Whether your car is broken down or you are on vacation, the chances are at some point in your life you will be driving a rental car. Unfortunately your likelihood to be involved in an accident also increases during this time. This is mostly due to the unfamiliar environment you suddenly find yourself in. Similarly, you may be involved in an accident where the other driver was driving a rental car owned by companies like: Budget, Alamo, Enterprise, National, Hertz, Avis, and Thrifty.
Self-insured Rental Car Companies Obligations
All of these rental car companies operate within the State of Missouri and as a result are obligated to comply with minimum financial responsibility laws. However, many of these companies are self-insured, meaning they have agreed to provide coverage and pay Judgments under the law. The requirements for companies to qualify to be self-insured is codified in Section 303.220 RSMo.
Coverage Limits of Self-Insured Companies
The coverage amounts required under Missouri Law are set forth in Section 303.160 RSMo. This section allows self-insured companies, like rental car companies, to only provide the minimum financial responsibility limits required in the State of Missouri. These limits are $25,000.00 for one person and $50,000.00 per accident. These minimal limits cause huge problems for drivers injured by drivers of rental cars. The truth is that medical bills for even a minor accident can be well in excess of $10,000.00, leaving little to no room for ongoing treatment or pain and suffering.
Underinsured Motorist Coverage
As a result of these minimal coverage limits, it is important that you have under insured motorist coverage. This is insurance you purchase that covers excess damage in the event that the other driver’s coverage is not enough. For example, you get hit by a driver of a rental car and are injured. Your medical bills are $30,000.00 and your recovery was three (3) months. All the rental car company will pay to you is $25,000.00, leaving you owing medical bills and possibly being out lost wages and pain & suffering. However, if you have $50,000.00 in underinsured motorist coverage, you may be able to recover an additional $25,000.00 from your insurance company to help alleviate your losses.
Springfield Missouri Car Accident Attorney
Of course, the best bet is to not be involved in an accident while in a rental car. Springfield Missouri car accident attorney Joel Harris offers the following tips that may help a driver increase his or her confidence while driving a rental vehicle on unfamiliar roadways.
Reduce Accidents in unfamiliar situations
1. Be Aware of Traffic Laws in the Area
This is an essential tip particularly for people traveling outside the country. Aside from avoiding traffic violations, becoming aware of traffic laws allows drivers to know the traffic situation in a particular area. Roundabouts, strange traffic signs, or weird intersections may be present in some towns, and it will be easier for drivers to navigate these unfamiliar areas if they are knowledgeable about these features.
2. Be Aware of Your Surroundings
A herd of cows in the middle of the road may be a familiar sight for local residents, but it may be something new or surprising for visitors. Drivers from the south may find icy roads difficult to manage while city dwellers may not know how to handle traffic caused by farm vehicles. Drivers can prepare for any traffic condition if they are aware of the situation in a particular area. It is also advisable to know the weather conditions of a particular area before visiting it.
3. Be Aware of Landmarks
Drivers should be familiar with the map of an area they visit for the first time. While traveling, drivers should take into account the connection between notable landmarks and the map. Drivers can easily identify their location and reach their destination if they are familiar with notable structures.
4. Use a GPS
Many rental vehicles feature a GPS system as add-ons. Using a GPS add-on is a cost-effective method of avoiding getting lost.
Common Road Rules
1. Avoid Unexpected Direction Changes
Drivers should wait and find the next available exit if they miss an exit or turn. Unexpected changes in direction using a rental vehicle may result in illegal or unsafe maneuvers, which can endanger the passengers and other vehicles on the road.
2. Use Turn Signals Properly
When making a turn, it is essential for drivers to use the turn signal in advance to warn other drivers
Injuries can affect your daily life. Don't trust your future to
an insurance company designed to make money.
of an upcoming turn.
3. Slow Down
Being patient is necessary while driving on unfamiliar roads. Driving at a lower speed allows a driver to react appropriately to unforeseen obstructions on the road, such as curves, animals, potholes, and debris.

Check out Nixa Missouri Auto Accident Attorney’s web page for more information on what to do in an accident. Also look at Ozark Missouri Auto Accident Attorney’s law firm profile to learn more about the aggressive and powerful litigation techniques used by Harris Law. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Rear-ended at an intersection?

Springfield, Ozark, and Nixa Auto Accident Attorney

Does this sound like you?

Rear-end Collision

You are on your way to (or from) work (school, store, etc...) and traffic is backed up. While stopped at a stop light you hear an unexpected crash from behind you. You immediately feel the force of a collision thrusting your car forward into the vehicle in front of you. During the impact your head is jerked back and then forward quickly. Your head barely misses the steering wheel as your seat belt (or airbag) catches you. Your entire head is numb, your arms are tingling, and your ears are ringing. Although you were stopped by your seat belt (or airbag), the impact of the collision was severe and took a tremendous toll on your body. You have just been involved in a rear-end collision, and according to the police officer who investigated the wreck, the at fault driver was inattentive. You may have suffered injuries to your neck, arms, shoulders, hands, and back.
Maybe you were the first hit. Maybe you were the last in a line of colliding vehicles. No matter your placement in the collision, your injuries are real, and you may be entitled to compensation.
Springfield, Missouri Auto Accident Attorney Joel Harris
Don't let this happen to you. If you were injured in an auto accident call Springfield, Missouri Auto Accident Attorney Joel Harris to learn your rights.
You decide to have a friend drive you to the hospital. It has been an hour since the collision and the pain is really beginning to take effect. 


Your doctors run a series of test and have diagnosed you with a Myofascial Lumbar Strain and Myofascial Cervical Strain which causes limited movement, throbbing pain and slow recovery. These are of course fancy terms for what is commonly know as whiplash. Even with limited treatment your medical bills will likely be thousands of dollars. Injuries such as these must be monitored as some never fully resolve, so be sure to follow your doctors orders on treatment.

Free Consultations

You will likely receive a call from the insurance company. In that call they may want to take your statement, have you sign a release, or even offer you money to settle. No matter the situation, your best bet is to speak with an auto accident attorney. Springfield Auto Accident Attorney Joel Harris offer's FREE consultations, and he doesn't get paid unless you win. Additionally, attorney fees are paid out of the recovery so there are no upfront costs or monies paid by you. Call 417-724-8003 or e-mail Harris Law (by clicking link) to schedule an appointment today. Harris Law will let you know up front whether you need an attorney and if they can help. Do not let the insurance company take advantage of you and your family.

No attorney fees unless we win

Friday, October 24, 2014

Springfield Auto Accident Attorney

Top Springfield Missouri Auto Accident Attorney Recognized

Springfield Missouri -

Local Auto Accident and Personal Injury Attorney, Joel Harris, of Harris Law, has been recognized as one of the top 40 Under 40 Criminal Defense Attorneys in the State of Missouri by the American Society of Legal Advocates.

Joel Harris began his practice in 2009 and since then has expanded from criminal defense into other areas such as family law and Auto Accident Litigation. Springfield Auto Accident Attorney Joel Harris uses his cross discipline knowledge and experience to help persons injured in an auto accident to receive the recovery they deserve.

There is no doubt that it is difficult to evaluate a lawyer’s performance in a multidisciplinary platform. So when you ask friends or family how they go about selecting the right attorney for a specific matter, you’ll probably hear terms such as “specialist,” “experienced” and “niche.” These are perfectly acceptable answers. Deep experience with specific industries, products and even courtrooms, “knowing the ropes,” has always been considered the litigation gold standard.

But if you ask the same clients, immediately after the case, what made their attorney effective and successful, you’ll hear a different story. They’ll likely tell you that it had less to do about “niche” and more to do about an expansive knowledge and preparedness. Springfield Auto Accident Attorney Joel Harris attributes his success in auto litigation to five key traits that he believes is paramount is a successful attorney.

1. Credibility. The first is credibility, the foundation of trust. Building a high level of trust with clients, judges, jurors and even opposing counsel is the cornerstone of effective representation. But it is a trait that is earned, not just learned. When a credible attorney tells a client he must be available on a certain day for a deposition with no exceptions, that client will listen. It’s simple: When you make a promise, you keep a promise. No exceptions. When that same attorney makes a promise to a judge or to opposing counsel, the promise is believed and kept. The time and cost of undoing agreements with any party is not only a time-consuming distraction, but it also diminishes the chances that anyone will believe the trial lawyer, no matter how experienced he is.

2. Civility. Litigation at its core is an argument. But it doesn’t have to be confrontational. Effective litigators understand that in the art of persuasion, civility is not only the high road, but can also be a powerful tool. Using hostile tactics of volume, anger and intimidation may result in a short-term gain, but tends to undermine an attorney’s long-term ability to persuade.  It can pull attention away from key witnesses and facts in favor of emotional reactions that are more difficult to control. And in the case of settlements, uncivil behavior tends to harm an attorney’s ability to negotiate in a reasonable time and manner with the opposition. There will always be a role for celebrity pit bulls, but the most effective trial lawyers fight relentlessly for their clients with respect, intelligence and grace.

3. Confidence. During the course of a trial, a lawyer makes literally thousands of decisions and assessments about risk, timing, pace, advantage, leverage and value. The Attorney makes most of these without the benefit of absolute certainty, knowledge or a complete assessment of the facts. To be effective in the midst of such a large gray area requires enormous levels of personal and professional confidence.  And don’t confuse confidence with false certainty or hubris. No decision can be certain and no lawyer is always right. But the most effective litigators learn by instinct to translate mountains of structured and unstructured information into clear and decisive action, often in the heat of a trial. This is a trait that is well developed in general practitioners. Understanding how key aspects of multiple areas of law intertwine helps make those spur of the moment decisions more accurate across the board.

4. Curiosity. The benefit of deep specialization in a narrow field of law or business often comes at the expense of broader perspective. Psychologists call it the curse of knowledge.  A general practice attorney will, “resist the narrow confines of deep specialties and maintain a relentless curiosity about the world they live in.” They possess an insatiable curiosity beyond law for a variety of topics and life experiences in science, art, psychology, physics and even pop culture. They have obscure hobbies and eclectic tastes. They know that solutions to courtroom challenges often come from the most unlikely places.  Juries and judges are rarely expert specialists. They are, by design, non-expert representatives of society at large. In general, courtroom communications are most effective if they’re on a fifth-grade level.  This can often frustrate specialists who struggle to relate their language and thinking to lay audiences. Relentless curiosity not only leads to innovative approaches and solutions, but also keeps the job of litigation continually fresh and exciting.

5. Competitive Spirit. What drives an effective trial lawyer? An innate competitive spirit. Effective litigators tend to take on every matter, large or small, as their must-win Super Bowl moment. To this trial lawyer type, there are no routine trials, meetings or even moments.  They thrive on the thrill of the challenge, not just the legal outcome. Competitive spirit comes in many flavors. But effective trial lawyers consider beating their opponents as secondary to the relentless pursuit of finding the simple, elegant trial solution. One trial lawyer calls it his “obvious surprise,” an insight that is immediately understood and familiar. Another calls it the “one simple thing” that can sway a jury, change the conversation and produce the right outcome. This type of fire in the belly never goes out. It helps trial lawyers take on the difficult cases with fearlessness, focus and seemingly boundless energy. These types are at their best when a case seems unwinnable. Just try and tell them that something is impossible. They can’t help simmering on your matter 24/7, on the soccer field, driving in traffic or at 4:00 in the morning.  For clients, it’s added value. For opponents, it’s an unfair advantage.

Many factors go into choosing the right trial lawyer, and conflicts and costs can limit your options. Of course experience matters, but it is far from the only measure. The most effective lawyers don’t just lean on their experience. They use it to enhance their five key traits and continually improve their craft. Learn more about Springfield Auto Accident Attorney Joel Harris at www.SpringfieldAutoAccidentAttorney.com.

Monday, February 24, 2014


How do I enforce the Court Order?

I often get the question, "What do I do when my ex-spouse doesn't follow the parenting plan?" It is a great question, but the answer isn't always what you want to hear. The short and simple answer is, "hire an attorney." I know it sounds awful. You went through all of this trouble to hire an attorney to get a divorce and parenting plan in place, and now you have to go back to Court just to make your ex follow it? I get it, I really do! However, there is a bright side. If your ex-spouse is found in contempt of court for failing to follow the court order, then you may be entitled to get your attorney fees paid. 


“(1) there is an actual violation of the court's order and either, (2) the alleged contemnor was able to comply with the court order, or (3) the alleged contemnor intentionally and contumaciously placed himself in a position so that he could not comply with the court's orders.”  

In applying this standard, the movant (the person filing the contempt action) bears the burden of demonstrating a violation of the court's order. It is then up to the alleged contemnor to prove the inability defense by establishing that he or she did not intentionally bring about the inability.


The Penalties for being found in contempt of Court are fairly steep and include compensatory time, posting of a bond to ensure compliance, payment of damages, payment of attorney fees, and even jail time. The person being held in contempt is said to “hold the keys to the jail” as their release may be conditioned upon payment or compliance of the Court Order. 

Learn more by going to Harris Law Online!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Did You Win The Keurig? Vote April 2nd Harris for Judge


I wanted to thank everyone for coming out the Nixpo. Our booth was a huge success. This was our first year at the Nixpo, and I must say I was very impressed with how much support the event is receiving from the community. As many of you know, you could register to win a Keurig coffee maker at our booth. Many stopped by to register, but only one person could win. Congratulations to Karen Wilcox! 
Many of you that stopped by had legal questions, or were interested in hiring an attorney for problems you were experiencing. Our office offers FREE consultations, so we can determine the extent of your legal needs and decide if we are a good fit. As Nixa's only general practice law firm, there are few options available local. It is for that reason that we engage is a variety of legal fields, If we are unable to assist you we don’t just send you on your way. We take the time to find an attorney that can help you. We then directly connect you with that attorney, so you can avoid that awful run-around feeling.
Finally, I wanted to remind everyone to get out and vote April 2nd. As many of you know the City of Nixa will be having an election and I am on the ballet as running for Municipal Judge. I don't take this position lightly. I think it is important that the City of Nixa continue to develop its Municipal Court in order to keep up with the rapid growth of the city. If elected, I will focus my efforts on deterring crime, reducing recidivism (repeat offenders), and developing a community service program that will benefit the community.
I have had a great opportunity to meet with local law enforcement, and I have listened to their concerns. I think it is important that the community develop a partnership with local law enforcement and that those efforts be supported by a Municipal Court. I am asking for the opportunity to do that.
I hope to get your vote April 2nd!
Joel T. Harris
Attorney at Law

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The phantom driver!

You are driving along, minding your own business, when out of nowhere a car slams into you; running you off the road and into a ditch. You didn't even get a good look at them before they zoomed off, never to be seen again.
Think it couldn’t happen to you? You might be surprised to learn that close to 11% of all accident reports to police, are hit and run incidents. People are all too willing to run from the scene in hopes that they can avoid responsibility. In many cases the driver is intoxicated, uninsured, or otherwise in trouble with the law.

If this happens to you the first thing you should do (other than seek medical attention if needed) is contact the police. Make a report and provide as much detail about the other vehicle as possible. In some cases the police can track the driver down. The driver may be charged with the Class A Misdemeanor of “Leaving the Scene of an Accident” and could see a substantial fine, loss of license, and even jail time.


However, catching the driver doesn’t always help, and in some cases the driver has vanished, leaving you with medical bills and damage; or have they? You have encountered the phantom driver, and in the state of Missouri this accident may be covered on your uninsured motorist’s policy, even if you don’t know who the driver is.

 RSMo 379.203 states:

1. No automobile liability insurance covering liability arising out of the ownership, maintenance, or use of any motor vehicle shall be delivered or issued for delivery in this state with respect to any motor vehicle registered or principally garaged in this state unless coverage is provided therein or supplemental thereto, or in the case of any commercial motor vehicle, as defined in section 301.010, any employer having a fleet of five or more passenger vehicles, such coverage is offered therein or supplemental thereto, in not less than the limits for bodily injury or death set forth in section 303.030, for the protection of persons insured thereunder who are legally entitled to recover damages from owners or operators of uninsured motor vehicles because of bodily injury, sickness or disease, including death, resulting therefrom. Such legal entitlement exists although the identity of the owner or operator of the motor vehicle cannot be established because such owner or operator and the motor vehicle departed the scene of the occurrence occasioning such bodily injury, sickness or disease, including death, before identification. It also exists whether or not physical contact was made between the uninsured motor vehicle and the insured or the insured's motor vehicle. Provisions affording such insurance protection against uninsured motorists issued in this state prior to October 13, 1967, shall, when afforded by any authorized insurer, be deemed, subject to the limits prescribed in this section, to satisfy the requirements of this section.
If you have been the victim of a hit and run, even if you don’t know who the driver is, you may want to contact an attorney to learn more about your legal rights under your insurance policy. Contact Joel T. Harris at Harris Law to learn more and set up a free consultation.

Sunday, January 20, 2013


Often I am confronted with the issue of relocation by one parent bound to a parenting plan. Sometimes I am asked before the parent moves, other times it is too late. My answer in either situation is this, “Strict Compliance”. What exactly does that mean? Exactly how it sounds. You cannot relocate unless you have strictly complied with the statute.
RSMo 452.377 states:
452.377. 1. For purposes of this section and section 452.375, "relocate" or "relocation" means a change in the principal residence of a child for a period of ninety days or more, but does not include a temporary absence from the principal residence.
2. Notice of a proposed relocation of the residence of the child, or any party entitled to custody or visitation of the child, shall be given in writing by certified mail, return receipt requested, to any party with custody or visitation rights. Absent exigent circumstances as determined by a court with jurisdiction, written notice shall be provided at least sixty days in advance of the proposed relocation. The notice of the proposed relocation shall include the following information:
(1) The intended new residence, including the specific address and mailing address, if known, and if not known, the city;
(2) The home telephone number of the new residence, if known;
(3) The date of the intended move or proposed relocation;
(4) A brief statement of the specific reasons for the proposed relocation of a child, if applicable; and
(5) A proposal for a revised schedule of custody or visitation with the child, if applicable.

 The problems most often encountered are:
“I can’t give 60 day notice”
“I don’t know the address”
“I don’t know when I am going to move”
“The other parent will not cooperate with a new schedule”
While the list goes on and on, be rest assured, the Court has heard it before. The truth is that relocation isn’t easy when a parenting plan is involved. Parent’s that constantly find themselves in conflict with each other can expect to have a fight when they attempt to move.
The statute goes on to say:
3. A party required to give notice of a proposed relocation pursuant to subsection 2 of this section has a continuing duty to provide a change in or addition to the information required by this section as soon as such information becomes known.
4. In exceptional circumstances where the court makes a finding that the health or safety of any adult or child would be unreasonably placed at risk by the disclosure of the required identifying information concerning a proposed relocation of the child, the court may order that:
(1) The specific residence address and telephone number of the child, parent or person, and other identifying information shall not be disclosed in the pleadings, notice, other documents filed in the proceeding or the final order except for an in camera disclosure;
(2) The notice requirements provided by this section shall be waived to the extent necessary to protect the health or safety of a child or any adult; or
(3) Any other remedial action the court considers necessary to facilitate the legitimate needs of the parties and the best interest of the child.
5. The court shall consider a failure to provide notice of a proposed relocation of a child as:
(1) A factor in determining whether custody and visitation should be modified;
(2) A basis for ordering the return of the child if the relocation occurs without notice; and
(3) Sufficient cause to order the party seeking to relocate the child to pay reasonable expenses and attorneys fees incurred by the party objecting to the relocation.
6. If the parties agree to a revised schedule of custody and visitation for the child, which includes a parenting plan, they may submit the terms of such agreement to the court with a written affidavit signed by all parties with custody or visitation assenting to the terms of the agreement, and the court may order the revised parenting plan and applicable visitation schedule without a hearing.
7. The residence of the child may be relocated sixty days after providing notice, as required by this section, unless a parent files a motion seeking an order to prevent the relocation within thirty days after receipt of such notice. Such motion shall be accompanied by an affidavit setting forth the specific factual basis supporting a prohibition of the relocation. The person seeking relocation shall file a response to the motion within fourteen days, unless extended by the court for good cause, and include a counter-affidavit setting forth the facts in support of the relocation as well as a proposed revised parenting plan for the child.
8. If relocation of the child is proposed, a third party entitled by court order to legal custody of or visitation with a child and who is not a parent may file a cause of action to obtain a revised schedule of legal custody or visitation, but shall not prevent a relocation.
9. The party seeking to relocate shall have the burden of proving that the proposed relocation is made in good faith and is in the best interest of the child.
10. If relocation is permitted:
(1) The court shall order contact with the nonrelocating party including custody or visitation and telephone access sufficient to assure that the child has frequent, continuing and meaningful contact with the nonrelocating party unless the child's best interest warrants* otherwise; and
(2) The court shall specify how the transportation costs will be allocated between the parties and adjust the child support, as appropriate, considering the costs of transportation.
11. After August 28, 1998, every court order establishing or modifying custody or visitation shall include the following language: "Absent exigent circumstances as determined by a court with jurisdiction, you, as a party to this action, are ordered to notify, in writing by certified mail, return receipt requested, and at least sixty days prior to the proposed relocation, each party to this action of any proposed relocation of the principal residence of the child, including the following information:
(1) The intended new residence, including the specific address and mailing address, if known, and if not known, the city;
(2) The home telephone number of the new residence, if known;
(3) The date of the intended move or proposed relocation;
(4) A brief statement of the specific reasons for the proposed relocation of the child; and
(5) A proposal for a revised schedule of custody or visitation with the child. Your obligation to provide this information to each party continues as long as you or any other party by virtue of this order is entitled to custody of a child covered by this order. Your failure to obey the order of this court regarding the proposed relocation may result in further litigation to enforce such order, including contempt of court. In addition, your failure to notify a party of a relocation of the child may be considered in a proceeding to modify custody or visitation with the child. Reasonable costs and attorney fees may be assessed against you if you fail to give the required notice.".
12. Violation of the provisions of this section or a court order under this section may be deemed a change of circumstance under section 452.410, allowing the court to modify the prior custody decree. In addition, the court may utilize any and all powers relating to contempt conferred on it by law or rule of the Missouri supreme court.
13. Any party who objects in good faith to the relocation of a child's principal** residence shall not be ordered to pay the costs and attorney's fees of the party seeking to relocate.

Each of the above mentioned problems encountered are covered by the statute, even if it is not obvious. If you are thinking of relocating, contact Harris Law and set up an appointment to speak with an attorney. For a nominal fee an attorney can help you better understand the statute and case law that make this process so difficult.

Harris Law

Harris Law
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