With a new year comes new laws. The seacoast online is reporting on some of the new laws that were passed for 2014 in New Hampshire. One law that is getting a lot of attention is the ability for communities to decide whether or not they want to push back last call at bars from 1 AM to 2 AM. Currently bars can only do business until 1 AM, but this new law will allow them to stay open an hour later. Communities will ultimately decide until what time they want bars in their area to stay open.
Another law is the increase of the speed limit to 70 mph on the state's main north-south highway, interstate 93. From mile marker 45 to incantatory to the Vermont border the speed limit will be increased from 65 miles per hour to 70 miles per hour.
A second driving related law being added this year is making composing a text message while operating a commercial vehicle a serious traffic offense. A commercial vehicle operator can face license suspension if they are caught by police sending a text message while driving.
Finally, a new law is being put in place for 2014 in New Hampshire to protect the liability of a homeowner when a firefighter is injured on their property. While this may seem like a very specific and perhaps unnecessary law, it actually has arisen for a good reason.
In 2012 the New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled that a firefighter who was injured on the property of a homeowner could sue the homeowner for negligence. In 2008 a volunteer firefighter named Jason Antosz was responding to a fire at home in Epping, New Hampshire when he slipped on an icy driveway. He then attempted to sue the homeowner for his injuries claiming that they neglected to keep the driveway free of ice and safe for visitors. The case was initially thrown out because of the fact that the State Law regarding firefighter's on-the-job injuries barred him from suing. The New Hampshire Supreme Court, however, disagreed and allowed him to pursue the claim in 2012.
This new law takes effect in the New Year and will limit the amount of liability a homeowner has if a firefighter suffers incidental injury while responding to an emergency call on their property. The law does not protect homeowners from purposeful negligence however. This new law is being supported by the group, The Professional Firefighters of New Hampshire because firefighters are afraid that this 2012 ruling will that make citizens afraid to call for help. After the Supreme Court ruled that Antosz could sue the homeowners for his injuries, firefighters feared that it would discourage other homeowners from calling 911 in an emergency for fear that they could be held liable if an emergency responder was injured in their home.
Homeowners have an obligation to keep their property relatively safe so that the average person would not get injured. When they fail to do this, they can be held liable for the injuries that occur on their property whether the victim was invited on their property or not.