Firefighter Line of Duty Cases
New York Firefighter Line of Duty Cases
Firefighters in New York are among the best firefighters in the world and face some of the most dangerous situations. Both the volume and complexity of the situations which New York firefighters face routinely puts them in harms way and exposes them to danger. These hazards are often created by illegal activity or property owners who do not follow the law or violate statutes, ordinances and other laws. Fortunately in New York, firefighters who are injured or killed because of a failure to comply with a law, can sue those responsible for causing their line of duty injuries.
The old law in New York barred a police officer from suing for injuries suffered or wrongful death in the line of duty. At one time, it was believed that firefighters assumed the risk of injuries that go with the job and should not be able to sue for their line of duty injuries, even if they were caused by unlawful activities. To alleviate the unfairness of this rule the New York Legislature enacted section 205-e to the General Municipal Law which largely abolished the common law prohibition of suing those responsible. In 1996, the laws were amended to give broader protection to both firefighters and police officers. The Legislature specifically made these amendments to mitigate the harshness of the firefighter’s rule by creating a cause of action where none previously existed, and encourage compliance with relevant statutes and ordinances by exposing violators to liability for injuries resulting directly or indirectly from noncompliance. The inequity was tragic because it allowed people to break the law, cause New York’s bravest, the firefighters to get hurt or even killed and allow the lawbreaker to get off, while leaving the injured firefighter or the family of a firefighter who suffered a wrongful death without any remedy.
To be able to sue under section 205-e, an injured New York firefighter must establish that the defendant failed to comply with a statute or ordinance and establish that the defendant’s negligence directly or indirectly caused the harm. Section 205-e allows firefighters in New York to sue where a fire fighter is injured by another’s failure to comply with the requirements of any of the statutes, ordinances, rules, orders and requirements of the federal, state, county, village, town or city governments or of any and all their departments, divisions and bureaus.
Regulations which allow firefighters to sue include the penal law, City Ordinances which require property owners to maintain and control property in a safe manner, Labor Laws that require safe workplaces, New York State, New York City, Westchester and other electrical codes, codes which require buildings to have self closing doors, fire sprinklers and many other situations where a code, law or ordinance was not complied with. There is also a relaxed standard of causation between the violation of law and the injury or death. An injured firefighter only needs to prove a practical or reasonable connection between the statutory or regulatory violation and the personal injury.
Our New York and Westchester personal injury and wrongful death lawyers are committed to protecting the firefighters of New York City, including the Bronx, Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, as well as the Westchester communities of White Plains, Mount Vernon, New Rochelle, Elmsford, Yonkers, Greenburg, Rye, Scarsdale, Port Chester, Ossining, Mamaroneck, Bronxville, Pelham, Mt. Kisco, Mt. Pleasant, Valhalla and Pelham Manor.
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