The new year is already more than a month old, which means that the new Georgia state laws that were passed in 2018 have now gone into effect. Will any of those laws affect you personally – or your family? Can a Toccoa personal injury lawyer help?
Some of the new laws are only amendments to existing laws, and most people won’t be affected. But some of the new laws will impact everyone in the state, and you’ll need to know about them.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE NEW LAWS IN GEORGIA?
Several of the new laws in this state are symbolic, but they are symbolic in important ways. Senate Resolution 685, for example, renames a tidewater bed on the Georgia coast that has long been known as “Runaway Negro Creek.” It will now be called “Freedom Creek.”
House Resolution 279 officially designates each March 21st in Georgia as “Single Parents Day.” And House Bill 419 modifies the times that fireworks may be set off in Georgia unless the law is in conflict with a pre-existing county or municipal noise ordinance.
WHAT IS THE “STRAW MAN” GUN LAW?
House Bill 657 makes it a felony in Georgia to act as a “straw man” gun buyer, that is, knowingly to purchase a firearm for someone who is a convicted felon. It’s a crime that was previously a misdemeanor in this state.
House Bill 79 regulates the way that your license plate data can be used. It allows law enforcement agencies to collect license plate data, store it for no more than thirty months, and access that data for law enforcement purposes – only.
Obtaining that information under false pretenses or misusing such information is now a misdemeanor in this state.
HOW WAS “AVA’S LAW” AMENDED?
Senate Bill 118 is an amendment to “Ava’s Law,” which was first adopted in Georgia in 2015. Ava’s Law originally guaranteed $30,000 of insurance coverage per year exclusively for children under the age of six who require treatment specifically for autism spectrum disorders.
Senate Bill 118 expands this coverage, and Ava’s Law now covers children in Georgia up to twelve years of age. Insurance companies in Georgia are required to provide the coverage when it is deemed medically necessary by a licensed medical doctor or psychologist.
Ava’s Law is named for Ava Bullard of Lyons, Georgia. As an infant, Ava was diagnosed with autism, and her parents were told that she would never speak. Nevertheless, thanks to early, comprehensive treatment, Ava loves to talk and is now a very healthy, active young person.
WHAT DOES “MARSY’S LAW” PROVIDE?
Marsy’s Law, an amendment to Georgia’s state constitution, was approved in 2018 by more than eighty percent of this state’s voters.
The amendment creates a victim’s bill of rights. It requires the courts in this state to notify crime victims or their families before the person who is accused of victimizing them appears in court.
Marsy’s Law gives the victims of violent crimes, and their families the right to address the court before the offender who victimized them is sentenced, released, or enters a plea.
The law is named for California college student Marsy Nicholas, who in 1983 was murdered by an ex-boyfriend. Only a week after the murder, Marsy’s mother and brother had a chance encounter with the killer at a local supermarket. No one told them he had bonded out of jail.
ARE THERE NEW TAX LAWS IN GEORGIA?
If you shop online, pay attention: Georgia’s lawmakers are serious about collecting sales taxes on products sold over the internet. Beginning in 2019, you’ll have to pay a sales tax in Georgia for almost every item that you purchase through the internet.
Online retailers who make at least 200 sales in this state or $250,000 in sales must collect and remit sales tax, or they must notify consumers who spend over $500 – and tell them to pay up.
In 2018, lawmakers approved a cut to the top rate of state income tax from 6 percent to 5.75 percent. The reduction also applies to the state’s corporate income tax rate. And the standard deduction for individuals and married couples who file together is now a maximum of $6,000.
DO ANY OF THE NEW LAWS IMPACT YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS?
The laws in Georgia change every year. That’s why, when you need an attorney’s advice or representation for any reason, you must select an attorney who works diligently to stay abreast of new laws, new court rulings, and other important current legal developments.
And while the laws change every year, your rights do not. If you’re charged with a crime, you have the right to remain silent, the right to have an attorney represent you, and the right to a speedy trial by a jury of your peers.
If you are injured by another person’s carelessness or negligence in Georgia, you have the right to seek reimbursement from that person for your medical costs, your lost wages, your personal pain and suffering, and all of your other accident-and-injury-related losses and damages.
WHEN SHOULD YOU SPEAK TO A PERSONAL INJURY LAW FIRM IN GA?
If you’ve been injured by another party’s negligence in Georgia, in a traffic accident, a workplace accident, or if you’ve been injured by a defective consumer product, you’ll need to speak – as quickly as possible – with an experienced Toccoa personal injury attorney.
Georgia’s statute of limitations gives the injured victims of negligence two years to file a personal injury or product liability lawsuit, but if you can’t work because you’re injured, and the medical bills are piling up, you cannot wait two years. You must speak to an attorney at once.
WHAT IS THE COST OF JUSTICE?
How can you pay for an attorney if you’re not working and the debts are mounting?
An experienced Alpharetta personal injury attorney will provide an injured victim of negligence with a free first consultation, so it costs nothing to learn how the law applies in your own circumstances.
If you and your attorney move forward with legal action, you will pay no attorney’s fee until compensation is recovered on your behalf. By working on this contingency fee basis, accident attorneys provide a way for every victim of negligence to have a day in court.
You may not need an attorney’s help in 2019, but if you do, your future, your health and well-being, and even your freedom may be at stake. If you need an attorney’s help for any reason, seek that help immediately. That is your right.