Kansas Court Extends Firefighter’s Rule to Bar Tort Recovery by Law Enforcement Officer

Ordinarily, workers are free to pursue civil actions against third parties whose negligence causes work-related injuries. One exception, however, is the so-called “firefighter’s rule,” adopted in a number of states, that holds that a firefighter should be precluded from recovery against an individual whose negligence created the need for the presence of the firefighter at the scene in his or her professional capacity. On Friday, a Kansas appellate court extended the doctrine to cover a law enforcement officer who sustained severe injuries in a vehicular accident as he approached the scene of an earlier wreck [see Apodaca v. Willmore, 2015 Kan. App. LEXIS 35 (May 15, 2015)]. Noting that the Kansas Supreme Court, in Calvert v. Garvey Elevators, Inc., 236 Kan. 570, 694 P.2d 433 (1985), had earlier adopted the firefighter’s rule on public policy grounds, the court held that those same grounds precluded recovery by the police officer in the instant case.

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