EPPING, NH (CBS) – Firefighters in Epping, New Hampshire are working to deliver an unusual message: If you need help, please call.
It seems you wouldn’t think twice about calling the fire department if you had an emergency, but because of a strange court case, some people worry that calling for help will cost them.
Kristen Crenshaw never imagined that after calling 911 for a house fire, she and her mom would face a lawsuit, but that’s exactly what’s happened when volunteer firefighter Jason Antosz was injured on their icy driveway.
Antosz was walking down the driveway when he fell and seriously hurt his leg. Firefighters from the department tell WBZ the driveway was covered with fresh snow that night.
At first his lawsuit was thrown out, but now the New Hampshire Supreme Court says emergency responders do have the right to sue for negligence.
“It’s not one of the things you think of when you call 911 to make sure everything’s in place where it should be,” says Kristen Crenshaw. “911 is an emergency line and it was a genuine emergency.”
This decision opens the door for other lawsuits against homeowners. Epping’s fire chief worries it will make other people hesitate to call for help.
“In no way do we want that person to have that thought, ‘gee I shouldn’t call the fire department because I might get sued’ that’s crazy,” says Chief Don DeAngelis.
But Antosz doesn’t think his suit will stop people from calling 911.
“It’s about protecting volunteer firefighters,” says Antosz. “I understand we’re out there to protect the citizens, but why do we have to be treated like second class citizens because we threw on some fire gear?”
Whether he’s right will be decided in court.