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Panel rules insurer must pay for firefighter's fall

Today's story has unique circumstances that are unlikely to come up often, but they illustrate the diverse nature of the world of premises liability law -- and they highlight the fact that anyone who is injured on a premises should consider their legal standing.

The case revolves around a 2009 incident where a fire broke out in a building in New Jersey. The firefighters were called, naturally. But in order to reach the fire, one of the firefighters at the scene had to go into an adjacent building and get on the roof. While he was on the roof of the building that was not on fire (in an attempt to reach the building that was on fire), he stepped on and fell through a glass pane. He suffered severe injuries to his back, hip, pelvis and shoulder, and the injuries ultimately forced him to retire.

So how does this fall into the realm of premises liability? Well, the insurer that covered the building adjacent to the building on fire was recently ruled to cover the firefighter. The building owner was actually contracted to take care of the roof, and the insurance company, which covered the building, argued this should exempt them from coverage. A three-judge panel recently ruled against that argument, granting coverage to the firefighter.

Insurance companies will always try to wiggle their way out of liability when a premises is involved, and the victims of any slip-and-fall or a dangerous condition in a building should consider their legal position.

Source: New Jersey Law Journal, "Insurer Must Cover Newark Firefighter's Fall, Court Rules," Michael Booth, May 5, 2017

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