Police Cannot Sue For Injuries From Rescues

August 28, 2013

There's a warning this morning that a new appellate court ruling could make police officers think twice about performing rescues. The case involves Department of Public Safety officer Ross Read who permanently injured his knee while rescuing a woman who had flipped her truck. The officer sued the woman, contending her negligence directly caused his injury, even though state law does not allow a person who is injured during a rescue to sue those who caused the problem. 

The appeals court said on-duty police officers are entitled only to the medical coverage and limited lost-wage benefits provided by workers compensation. David Abney, who represents Read, said that could cause public safety officials to hesitate in the future.

“Officer Read, for instance, did not have to go the extra step to try to get the woman out of the overturned truck,” Abney said. “He could have waited for the firefighters.”

Abney said in the future, officers may just wait.  He also said the ruling means taxpayers are picking up the costs of the injury, instead of the woman whose alleged negligence caused it. The case will likely be appealed to the state Supreme Court.

Updated 8/28/2013 2:42 p.m.