Fireman's Rule Arizona
In 2006, the Arizona Supreme Court addressed the applicability of the firefighter's rule. Espinoza, 212 Ariz. 215, 129 P.3d 937.
In Espinoza v. Schulenburg, 212 Ariz. 215, 216, P 6, 129 P.3d 937, 938 (2006), an off-duty firefighter had stopped to help with a car accident. Id. at 216, P 21, 129 P.3d at 938.
While she was reaching into the wrecked vehicle to turn on the emergency flashers, that vehicle was rear-ended by another, causing multiple injuries to the firefighter. Id. at P 3.
She sued for damages relating to her injuries, but the superior court determined that her claim was barred by the firefighter's rule. Id. at P 4.
The Court reversed, holding that the rule should not be applied to off-duty firefighters. Id. at P 5.
Although the supreme court agreed with our determination, the court accepted review to clarify proper application of the rule. Id.
The court discussed the rule's history and purpose, which "reflects a policy decision that the tort system is not the appropriate vehicle for compensating public safety employees for injuries sustained as a result of negligence that creates the very need for their employment." Id. at 217, P 11, 129 P.3d at 939.
In Espinoza, the court noted that the rescue doctrine was "probably necessary to support the suit because without it, Espinoza might not be able to show that the defendants' actions, rather than her own actions on the scene, were the proximate cause of her injuries." Id. at P 10.
The court in Espinoza did not determine whether the firefighter's rule should be extended to other professionals who respond to emergencies, such as police officers; however, the court noted "that the rationale for the rule would seem to apply equally well to police officers, and other states have consistently applied the rule to them." Id. at 218-19 n.3, P 17, 129 P.3d at 940-41 n.3.