New York Police and Firefighter Compensation Law
by Michael Rose
New York City firefighters and police officers regularly put their lives on the line in service to the public. These are extremely dangerous and stressful professions, and these brave New Yorkers deserve to be compensated whenever they suffer injuries in the line of duty. Unlike most workers, New York firefighters and police are not covered by workers’ compensation. If they are injured in the line of duty, they may pursue compensation for their injuries through other avenues, like the General Municipal Law. Depending on the particular circumstances of the accident, injured firefighters and police offers may have multiple legal options available to them.
If you are a New York police officer or firefighter who has been injured while on the job, it’s critical that you consult with an experienced attorney as soon as you can. You may be able to recover compensation for past, present, and future medical bills, as well as lost wages, lost earning capacity, pain and suffering, and other damages associated with your injuries.
The New York personal injury lawyers at Hach & Rose, LLP have been helping injured firefighters and police officers for decades. We have recovered millions in settlements and verdicts on behalf of injured workers. You can have full confidence that we have the skills, knowledge, and resources needed to handle your firefighter or police officer injury claim. If you have been injured while in the line of duty, we’re ready to do everything we can to help you get your life back on track. Call (212) 779-0057 today to schedule a free initial consultation so we can review the details of your case and explain your legal options.
What is General Municipal Law § 205-e?
In 1935, New York City passed General Municipal Law § 205-a, also known as the “Fireman’s Law,” which gave firefighters the right to file a lawsuit for line-of-duty injuries if the defendant violated a statute, regulation, or rule, when causing the firefighter’s injury. To have a case under GML §205-a, a firefighter has to identify a statute or ordinance that the defendant violated, describe the manner in which they were injured, and show that the defendant’s negligence directly or indirectly caused them harm. To be successful in a lawsuit brought under General Municipal Law § 205-a, the firefighter must show that the defendant violated a local, state, or federal law.
In 1996, General Obligations Law § 11-106 was enacted, giving firefighters a cause of action in negligence for line-of-duty injuries, except against municipal employers and coworkers. Therefore, since then, firefighters have had two possible avenues for recovering compensation from negligent parties. If the violation of a statute, rule, or ordinance caused injury to a firefighter, a firefighter may sue under GML § 205-a. And if someone’s negligence caused the injuries, regardless of if there was a statutory violation, the firefighter may bring a cause of action in negligence against anyone but their employer or fellow worker.
In 1989, New York City enacted General Municipal Law § 205-e, which gave the same right to sue to police officers. GML § 205-e is a plaintiff-friendly statute intended to afford police officers a greater chance of recovering compensation through a civil action after they have been injured in the line of duty. Under GML §205-E, New York police officers injured in the line of duty may sue any other party for damages, including their employer and coworkers who violated a law, and through this action, directly or indirectly caused the officer’s injuries.
In Which Situations Can I Sue?
Examples of scenarios in which firefighters and police officers can file a lawsuit include:
• Slip, trip, and fall accidents — If a firefighter slips and falls in a firehouse because of a leaky pipe, the City of New York is responsible. If a hidden hazard causes a police officer to fall, the tenant or landlord who failed to do something about the hazard is liable.
• Negligent driving — If a driver was not paying attention and hit a firefighter standing next to the scene of a fire or a police officer next to a crime scene, for example, the injured firefighter and police officer could sue the negligent driver. If a police officer was injured in a traffic accident caused by a driver who failed to yield the right-of-way to a police car with sirens may be entitled to compensation from the negligent driver.
• Product liability — When a defect in a product, such as a piece of personal protective equipment, causes harm to a firefighter or police officer, they can sue the product manufacturer of the product and the fire department/police department. If a defect in a fire truck was the result of faulty maintenance or a design specification by the fire department, the injured firefighter might have a case.
• Premises liability — Landlords can be held liable for injuries that result from a defect in the premises or a hazard. These cases typically involve injuries from dog bites, structural collapses, and loose tiles.
To fully understand your rights after an injury and to see if your injuries qualify for a lawsuit, you should consult an experienced personal injury lawyer at Hach & Rose, LLP. We help firefighter and police officers after they sustain a wide range of injuries while on duty, including severe burns, gunshot wounds, smoke inhalation, traumatic brain injuries, and spinal cord injuries.
Statute of Limitations
In New York, you must file a lawsuit against a municipality within 90 days of the incident. The statute of limitations for claims against a government agency may be different from claims against a private party. Determining the applicable statute of limitations for your claim requires the advice of a knowledgeable New York personal injury lawyer.
At Hach & Rose, LLP, we will determine the deadline for filing your claim and will act quickly to preserve the applicable statute of limitations. Our skilled and compassionate work injury attorneys are ready to thoroughly assess the facts of your case, including collecting and analyzing evidence and pursuing the proper legal action to protect your rights. We have the knowledge, skills, and recourses needed to achieve the best possible outcome for your firefighter or police injury case.
The New York personal injury lawyers at Hach & Rose, LLP are committed to ensuring that our public servants get the financial compensation they deserve after suffering injuries on the job. If you believe that you have a case, don’t hesitate to contact us at (212) 779-0057 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.