NH Supremes hold property owners accountable for injured emergency workers due to negligence

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February 15, 2011

New Hampshire

PORTSMOUTH, New Hampshire: In a precedent setting case this past week, the New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled in favor of Epping volunteer firefighter Jason Antosz when he sued a citizen after falling on ice on the citizen's driveway during a fire call. The case challenges the "Fireman's Rule" which prevents firefighters from suing citizens during active service. Superior Court Judge Kenneth McHugh ruled in favor of the citizen, holding that confronting the elements was an inherent party of duty. The Supreme Court overturned the decision. Antosz attorney, Christopher Grant, praised the decision as an assurance that firefighters and emergency workers held the same rights as all other citizens. However, David Lang, president of the Professional Firefighters of New Hampshire, opposed the decision arguing that firefighters are already covered for those injuries under workman's comp and the ruling could have a "chilling effect" on citizen's desire to call emergency medical services. He told the press, "I'm the guy who proposed that if there's a fire in a snowstorm, that public works be dispatched to clear the driveway. People should not be put in a position in a time of need to decide if they should call for help or worry about litigation. We don't want people to ask, 'Is my house up to par?' during an emergency. Seconds count in this profession."[1] Jason Antosz is a current Republican member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives. He has represented Rockingham 9 since 2010 and currently serves on the Criminal Justice and Public Safety.

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