New Year, New Laws

January 1st ushers in a new set of rules for every type of person: a revised diet plan, changed relationship patterns, and, whether you realize it or not, many new and revised laws. Our team of injury attorneys would like to highlight a few of the most significant and far-reaching laws so residents may be better informed of their rights and regulations.

Collectively, the National Conference of State Legislatures estimates that the U.S. passed about 40,000 new laws throughout 2013. Let’s begin in our home-state, Illinois, where several significant laws are now enacted. It is now legal to carry a concealed weapon in Illinois, provided carriers pass extensive background checks and receive 16 hours of training; it is also now legal for drivers to travel at 65 to 70 miles per hour on rural highways. Medical marijuana is legal as well, making Illinois the 20th state to at least partially regulate its consumption.

As far as illegalization, Illinois drivers will now face penalties if caught using cell phones while driving, though they may continue to use headsets or speakerphones. Affecting Chicagoans specifically, anyone caught participating in a violent flash mob will now face up to six years in prison. Additionally, pet owners who purchase an animal without being informed of serious ailments can now return the pet or be reimbursed for veterinary expenses, known as the “puppy lemon law.” More Illinois law changes may be found here.

Next door in Missouri, three important laws were just enacted, the first raising the minimum wage to $7.50. A second law replenishes the state’s Second Injury Fund, which is fed by workers’ compensation insurance plans. The fund is for employees who suffer more than one injury on the job, and will provide compensation for the state’s most vulnerable workers. The final Missouri law requires physicians to conduct congenital heart disease tests to all newborns.

Sweeping Changes in California

Californians are perhaps most affected by law changes this year, with amendments to the state’s driving, immigration, familial, and employment standards. The state now has the highest minimum wage in the nation, at $9 an hour, which it plans to increase to $10 by 2016. At-home caregivers working over nine hours per day or 45 hours per week must now be paid time and a half, and outdoor workers are required to have breaks when temperatures reach certain highs.

In additional employment news, employers can no longer terminate workers for being victimized by stalkers, domestic violence, or sexual assaults. They also may not threaten illegal immigrants by suggesting to report their illegal status to the federal government.
In further efforts to aid immigrants, it is now illegal for county jails to turn over illegal immigrants to federal authorities. Those living in the state illegally may also now be admitted to practice law. Thumbing its nose at states like Texas and Utah, women in California have been granted additional abortion rights, as the state expands resident access to the procedure.

Drivers in California must now keep at least three of distance from cyclists on the road, and those driving low- or zero-emission vehicles may continue to use carpool lanes (even when solo) until at least 2019. As far as gun restrictions, the mentally ill who make violent threats may not own guns for at least five years, and kits converting standard magazines into high-capacity are now illegal. Those who want to purchase a rifle must now pass through a safety certification.

There are certain amendments to the state’s Amber Alert system, which now apply to children abducted by a parents or guardian. Children can also officially have more than one legal parent, and employees can now take leave for a wider array of seriously ill relatives, positively affecting nursing home residents and cancer fighters.

Injury attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm accept, review and investigate cases from potential clients in all 50 states. If you or a loved one was seriously injured in an accident caused by the negligence or knowing disregard or another person, contact our firm immediately. We will help guide you through the legal process of filing a claim and fighting your case.

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