Are you a police officer or firefighter and were you injured in the line of duty? New York firefighters put their lives on the line every day they report to work. It’s a risky profession. An injury in the line of duty can be devastating to a the firefighter and his or her family. Many individuals mistakenly believe that a firefighter’s only remedy for an injury that occured during work is to file a workers compensation claim. While that make be the case for most employees, it is critical to understand that firefighters have additional protections available. It is very important for injured firefighters seek experienced counsel immediately to protect their rights and recover monies for their damage.
According to the Firefighters’ Rule (i.e., NY General Muncipal Law Section 205-a), initially passed in 1935, enables injured firefighters to bring a lawsuit when they get hurt while working if the injury was caused by a property owner’s violation of law, rule or regulation. The law specifically states that a cause of action [exists] for firefighters who suffer line-of-duty injuries directly or indirectly caused by a defendants violation of relevant statutes and regulations.” Some common violations include building code violations and electrical violations. Many times the analysis of a case will depend on the strength of the casual connection between the injury and the violation. For example, if an individual trips, falls at a fire site and get injured, that may not be the basis for a claim unless the injury was caused by the builder owner’s negligence. If the injury was due to the individual’s clumsiness and not because the property was defective in a material manner, the claim under a lawsuit may not be that strong. However, the worker could still proceed with a workers compensation claim.
Example of Circumstances Surrounding a Potential Claim
A firefighter reported to a business’s premises (i.e., doughnut shoppe). In the course of battling the fire, the firefighter suffered severe burns and smoke inhalation. The firefighter alleged that the building owner did not maintain the building in a safe condition. The property owner claimed the injury was unrelated to any violation and was caused by the firefighter’s own behavior. The highest court in New York, the Court of Appeal, stated that “a factual question [was raised] as to whether defendants’ violations resulted in a malfunctioning fire control system that directly or indirectly caused plaintiffs injuries by failing to prevent the fire or by exacerbating it.” As a result, the injured worker’s claim was allowed to proceed.
Just because you take risk at your job doesn’t mean you are unable to sue due to someone else’s negligence. New York has enacted laws to prevent fires and injuries. We believe negligent property owners should be held accountable for injuries caused to a firefighter in the course of performing their duties. If you were injured while battling a fire and know someone who was, please call our office and confidentially speak with one of our experienced attorneys to learn your rights. Call us now at (800) 893-9645.
Thank you for visiting our Blog. This blog provides general information and thoughts about various employment law issues primarily in the New York Tri-State area and occasionally in other areas. You are welcome to read the posts. However, do not construe any content on this blog as legal advice or the creation of an attorney-client relationship. Again, we provide the content only for informational purposes. You should not make decisions based information on our blog since the application of the law depends on the facts and each situation may be different. In addition, the law in most jurisdictions is different and changes constantly and we make no representations that any information on our blog has been updated. The Blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from an experienced employment law attorney in your state or jurisdiction.