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Kansas: Firefighter’s Rule Barring Most Suits Against Third Party Extended to Police Officers

April 20, 2017 (1 min read)

In a deeply divided decision, the Supreme Court of Kansas extended the firefighter’s rule to law enforcement officers. The rule, which is applied in more than half the states [see Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 110.08], prohibits firefighters from suing the person who was negligently responsible for causing the fire or other hazard for injuries they suffer in responding to and quelling that hazard, subject to several exceptions. Noting that the rule had been applied to firefighters in Kansas since the Court’s decision in Calvert v. Garvey Elevators, Inc., 236 Kan. 570, 694 P.2d 433 (1985), the majority observed that in other jurisdictions that had adopted the firefighter’s rule, approximately 25 had extended it to police officers and in many cases, other public safety officers. The majority said extension of the rule was consistent with the common law and statutory law developed in the clear majority of other jurisdictions. It was also consistent with the public policy rationale that prompted the Court to adopt the firefighter’s rule in the first place. Three justices dissented.

Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., the Feature National Columnist for the LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation eNewsletter, is the co-author of Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law (LexisNexis).

LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis Advance.

See Apodaca v. Willmore, 2017 Kan. LEXIS 131 (April 14, 2017)

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 110.08.

Source: Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the nation’s leading authority on workers’ compensation law