New Missouri Laws Regarding Lawsuits, Unions, and Discrimination

Columbia Attorney Knowledgeable in Recent Changes to State Statutes

At the Law Office of Matt Uhrig, we make it a priority to stay on top of emerging legal developments. Understanding the current laws and regulations is critically important to the success of a claim because legal changes may affect the procedural aspects of the case, create or limit causes of action, or modify the amount of damages that a plaintiff is entitled to receive. In August 2017, the Missouri legislature enacted a group of new laws that are important for residents of the state to know and understand. If you have been involved in a car accident or another accident giving rise to a personal injury claim, or you are facing a legal matter related to your job or housing, Matt Uhrig is ready to help you fight for your legal right to compensation.

New Rules for Expert Witness Testimony and Medical Costs in Injury Lawsuits

Expert witness testimony is often a component of proving a defendant’s liability. Whether it is an accident reconstructionist, a medical doctor, or some other qualified expert, these individuals help educate the jury about the accident and how the defendant’s conduct caused you to suffer injuries. The recently enacted HB 153 will change the process that parties must follow to have an expert witness admitted during trial, providing a more stringent vetting process. In order to introduce expert witness testimony, the offering party must prove four things. First, the expert’s specialized knowledge must assist the judge or jury with understanding the evidence or with determining a factual issue. Second, the expert’s testimony must be based on sufficient data or factual information. Third, the testimony must result from reliable methods and principles. Finally, the expert must have applied these methods and principles in a reliable fashion.

Meanwhile, SB 31 limits medical costs in injury lawsuits. They will be restricted to the amount paid by the plaintiff and the insurer, rather than the amount billed by the medical provider. This is a drastic change from the long-standing collateral source rule, which prevented any evidence of health insurance payments. This new law creates a great inequity by giving defendants in personal injury cases benefit of lower medical costs being submitted to a jury simply because the plaintiff had health insurance.

Recent Changes to Labor and Employment Regulations Involving Unions

Two new laws have brought major changes to the labor and employment landscape in Missouri. First, SB 19, the so-called “right to work” law, prohibits workplace employment contracts from imposing mandatory union dues. This means that an employee who doesn’t want to join a union can refuse to pay union dues and still benefit from union membership. Employers are also banned from requiring employees to pay union dues or other labor organization fees as a condition of becoming or remaining an employee. The law does not apply to contracts that already exist, but it will apply to any renewal, modification, amendment, or extension of these contracts.

Second, SB 182 prohibits a local government entity from requiring public construction projects to provide union working conditions. Before the law was passed, local governments were prohibited from requiring or preventing contract bidders from entering into contracts with labor unions when a contract for the construction of a public project is funded more than half by state funding. The bill now removes the 50 percent limit and adds new prohibitions that prevent state entities from either requiring or preventing bidders from making contracts with unions. It also prohibits discrimination against a bidder based on its union associations, and it makes clear that a state agency or state instrumentality cannot give preferential treatment to a bidder based on the bidder’s association or lack thereof with a union organization.

An Increased Burden of Proof in Workplace and Housing Discrimination Cases

Experiencing discrimination in the workplace or the place where you live is a stressful experience, especially if you are concerned about losing your job in retaliation for reporting the unlawful conduct. The Missouri legislature recently enacted SB 43, a law that will make it more difficult to establish that someone discriminated against you at work or when applying for housing. Now, the plaintiff must offer proof that the defendant was primarily motivated by the plaintiff’s race, gender, age, or disability instead of showing that this was only a contributing factor to the decision. According to the law, a motivating factor is described as a factor that played an actual role in the adverse decision or action against the plaintiff, and that had a determinative influence on the decision or action. Also, the plaintiff must prove that the action or the decision was the proximate cause of the damages that the plaintiff sustained.

Contact a Resourceful Columbia Lawyer to Discuss Your Claim

At the Law Office of Matt Uhrig, we take pride in helping Missouri residents navigate complex legal issues efficiently and smoothly. We know how daunting a lawsuit can seem, even if you are entitled to compensation for your injuries or other harm. We can guide you through each step of the legal process while ensuring that your rights and interests are protected along the way. Serving clients in Columbia, Ashland, Jefferson City, and other areas of Missouri, our dedicated personal injury and workers’ compensation lawyer offers a free consultation to help you learn about your legal options. Call us now at 573-657-2050 or contact us online to get started.

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