Police Officer and Firefighter Injuries
Police officers and firefighters accept a duty to protect the public, and they selflessly put themselves in harm’s way every day when they get up and go to work. Certainly, by choosing to pursue a career in their respective fields, police officers and firefighters accept some risks associated with these jobs. However, firefighters and police officers also confront hazards above and beyond those that society can reasonably ask them to accept. At Krolikowski Law, Orange County work injury lawyer Adam Krolikowski aggressively pursues claims for compensation for police officer and firefighter injuries. With over 20 years of experience handling these complex claims, Attorney Krolikowski confidently guides his clients through the process as they seek the compensation that they need and deserve after suffering a serious work-related injury.The “Firefighter’s Rule” and Exceptions for Police Officer and Firefighter Injuries
Generally, when someone is injured on property belonging to another person, business, or government entity, the injured person can pursue a premises liability claim against the property owner. However, under an old legal doctrine called the Firefighter’s Rule, firefighters are prevented from suing property owners whose negligence caused or contributed to the fire that necessitated the firefighter’s presence. For example, under the Firefighter’s Rule, a homeowner who negligently starts a fire in their home cannot be held liable if a responding firefighter is burned while putting out the fire.
The argument for the Firefighter’s Rule is that firefighters assume the risk of injury because they knowingly and voluntarily accept the hazards involved in their profession. In California, the Firefighter’s Rule also applies to police officers. As one California court explained the rationale, “police officers and firefighters may not complain of the very negligence that makes their employment necessary.”
However, a strict application of the Firefighter’s Rule could lead to unfair results because some emergency responders suffer injuries in situations that go beyond the ordinary hazards of their occupation. California lawmakers, understanding these injustices, enacted Civil Code 1714.9, which provides several exceptions to the Firefighter’s Rule.
Under Civil Code 1714.9, a police officer or firefighter who is injured in the line of duty is not prohibited from bringing a claim against a negligent party in any of the following situations:
- The fire or other injury-producing harm was a result of another party’s intentional act;
- The firefighter or police officer was injured due to another person’s act that occurred after that person knew or should have known that police officers or firefighters were present; or
- The firefighter or police officer was injured as a result of negligent conduct that was not the reason for the emergency responder’s presence.
For example, if a firefighter responds to a fire and is injured due to a dangerous condition on the property that is unrelated to the fire, such as an unmarked hole in the floor, the firefighter could proceed with a premises liability lawsuit against the property owner because the hole in the floor did not contribute to the fire that required the firefighter’s presence. Another example of when the Firefighter’s Rule would not apply is when a firefighter is injured in an arson fire. In this situation, since the fire was set intentionally, the firefighter could pursue a personal injury claim against the arsonist.
The Firefighter’s Rule and its exceptions are quite complex, and any firefighter or police officer injured in the line of duty should reach out to a dedicated personal injury lawyer to discuss their situation.Speak to an Experienced Orange County Lawyer After a Work Injury
If you or a loved one has recently suffered a serious injury in the line of duty while serving as a firefighter or police officer, contact Krolikowski Law. At Krolikowski Law, Attorney Adam Krolikowski proudly handles claims related to police officer and firefighter injuries, helping victims get back on their feet. Since 2004, Krolikowski Law has helped countless accident victims in Orange County pursue the compensation that they need and deserve, and we look forward to speaking with you about your situation. To learn more, and to schedule your free consultation, call (949) 274-9915 today.