Fireman’s Rule Prevents On-Duty Police Officer from Recovering Compensation After Car Accident

Earlier this month, an appellate court in Georgia issued a written opinion in a car accident case that applies a principle of law also seen in Maryland car accident cases. The case required the court to discuss and apply the “fireman’s rule,” which may act to prevent emergency responders from recovering compensation from those whose negligent acts necessitated their services. Ultimately, the Georgia court determined that the facts as presented fit within the fireman’s rule, and it dismissed the plaintiff’s case.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a law enforcement officer who was injured while responding to a car accident. The court’s version of the facts showed that the defendant, a used car dealership, mowed the lawn surrounding the dealership and failed to clean up the clippings. The clippings then blew into the roadway. Shortly afterward, it began to rain.

The wet clippings made the roadway slick, and a motorist was involved in a collision. The plaintiff and another law enforcement officer received a radio call for assistance. As the plaintiff was responding to the scene of the accident, he lost control of the vehicle when he encountered the wet grass clippings.

The plaintiff initially recovered workers’ compensation benefits and then filed a personal injury action against the dealership, claiming that its failure to clean up the grass clippings caused the accident that resulted in his injury.

The defendant asked the trial court to dismiss the case based on the fireman’s rule, which states that public safety officers are “precluded from recovery for injuries received when they are injured as a result of the negligence that caused them to be called to the scene.” However, the lower court denied the defendant’s motion, finding that the grass clippings were an “extrinsic act” that was not related to the reason why the plaintiff was called to the scene.

On the defendant’s appeal, the case was reversed. The appellate court held that the evidence presented below suggested that the wet grass clippings were indeed the cause of both accidents. Since the wet grass clippings were determined to be the cause of the accident necessitating the plaintiff’s presence at the scene as well as the cause of the plaintiff losing control of his car, the fireman’s rule applied. As a result of the court’s decision, the plaintiff will not be permitted to seek additional compensation for his injuries.

Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Car Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured while on the job, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a Maryland personal injury lawsuit. If you were employed as a public safety officer, the fireman’s rule may stand as a roadblock to your recovery. However, do not assume that you are precluded from recovery. Instead, seek the counsel of a dedicated Maryland car accident attorney at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers to discuss your case by calling 410-654-3600.We offer free consultations to accident victims with no obligation to continue forward with your case.

More Blog Posts:

Plaintiff’s Car Accident Case Nearly Dismissed for Failure to Name Proper Party, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published October 10, 2017.

Court Allows Plaintiff’s Recovery Against At-Fault Motorist’s Insurance Company Despite Subsequent Bankruptcy Filing, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published October 3, 2017.

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