Counties Support Elimination of “Fireman’s Rule”

MACo Legislative Director Natasha Mehu testified on February 12, 2020 to the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee in support of SB 330 – Civil Actions – Defenses – Fireman’s Rule. This bill would eliminate the “Fireman’s Rule” as well as other similar defenses under certain conditions.

The “Fireman’s Rule” is a common law doctrine that generally prohibits a safety officer from recovering damages for injuries they have sustained in the course of their duties. The global reasoning behind the rule is that safety officers willingly assume the risks their duties present and that costs of injuries should be spread among the public rather than an individual.

From the MACo Testimony:

. . . Without dramatically altering the policy logic behind the “Fireman’s Rule,” SB 330 adds fairness on behalf of our first responders.

. . . Safety officers injured in the line of duty are usually covered by workers’ compensation, county self-insurance or other liability insurance. The bill’s subrogation provisions afford counties the ability to recover the injured officer’s workers’ compensation costs from the parties at fault.

Safety officers protect Maryland lives and risk their own daily. It is reasonable to narrowly allow these officers to recover damages directly from another responsible individual in cases where they are injured while on duty.

Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2020 legislative session on MACo’s Legislative Tracking Database.