(TRENTON) – Exempting first responders from damages that may occur from forcible entries during an emergency legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Joe Danielsen, Vince Mazzeo and Eliana Pintor Marin first responders harmless for damages that may occur from forcible entries during an emergency cleared the full Assembly 76-0 Monday.
“Ultimately, this bill is designed to ensure that no one in need of emergency assistance goes without care because of potential liability concerns in the event that they’re unable to either physically or verbally grant first responders entry into their property,” said Danielsen (D-Middlesex/Somerset).
The bill (A-594) would provide immunity from civil liability to compensated and volunteer public and private first responders – including emergency medical services personnel, law enforcement officers, and firefighters – for any damages that may result from a forcible entry into a home, business, or other structure where an emergency is reported.
“If someone’s life is on the line and a first responder has to break down a door to get in, it’s counterintuitive to subject them to liability when their actions could mean the difference between life and death,” said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic).
This immunity would only apply when the first responder’s decision is based upon a good faith belief that forced entry is necessary to provide emergency medical care or to prevent imminent bodily harm and when no occupant of the property responds to the first responder’s requests for entry within a reasonable period of time.
“First responders are trained with one goal in mind – saving lives,” said Pintor Marin (D-Essex). “If they believe a forced entry is the only way to save a life, they’re going to move heaven and earth to do it. We should have their backs and protect them from liability.”
The bill will now go to the Senate for further consideration.