EPIC law firm helps injured firefighter Daniel Lyon secure $5 million settlement

Lyon case is settled prior to Supreme Court oral arguments.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Attorneys from Evergreen Personal Injury Counsel successfully secured a $5 million settlement for injured firefighter Daniel Lyon. The settlement was reached prior to oral arguments on the case today before the Washington State Supreme Court. The Court granted a motion to dismiss the case for review in the wake of the settlement.

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“I am very grateful that my case calls attention to the plight of injured first responders. I am also grateful my case has reached a settlement so that I can now move on with my life knowing I will have the resources I need for the future,” Lyon said in a statement.

EPIC attorneys were challenging the constitutionality of the law on the grounds that it strips first responders of their legal rights when they are injured by negligence in the line of duty. Lyon was severely injured while fighting the 2015 Twisp wildfire ignited by powerlines. He is represented by EPIC Attorneys Steve Bulzomi and James McCormick.

Lyon barely survived the 2015 Twisp wildfire, sustaining severe burns over more than 70 percent of his body. Three of his fellow firefighters – Richard Wheeler, Andrew Zajac and Tom Zbyszewski — perished in the fire. Attorneys for Lyon argue that a local utility caused the fire after failing to responsibly manage vegetation near their powerlines. They note that the state’s current professional rescuer doctrine unfairly gives negligent wrongdoers blanket special protections for their negligence – regardless of circumstances — when first responders are severely injured or killed in the line of duty.

Key arguments to protect first responders include:

  • The professional doctrine is unconstitutional under the State Constitution. It denies first responders the fundamental right to the trial by jury. There has never been a constitutional challenge to the doctrine in Washington. 
  • Indeed, neither firefighter nor police officer is among the ten most dangerous jobs in the country. Other people in dangerous jobs retain the right to hold negligent third parties accountable under the law. Professional rescuers cannot. It is time for that to change.
  • The professional rescuer doctrine does not apply when a hazard is hidden, unknown and extra hazardous. This is especially true when an independent intervening act causes the rescuer’s injury or when an intentional act causes the injury.
  • The professional rescuer doctrine is based on a broad policy of assumption of risk. Nearly half the states in the nation have abandoned the professional rescuer doctrine because of its inherent unfairness to first responders.
  • A person’s acceptance of a risk is not voluntary if that person is left with no reasonable alternative course of conduct to avoid the harm or to exercise or protect a right or privilege because of the defendant’s negligence.