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Washington firefighter wins $5 million settlement after five-year court fight

Sometimes workers’ compensation isn’t enough to cover the fallout from an injury sustained on the job. That’s been the case for Daniel Lyon Jr., the only surviving firefighter in the Twisp River blaze of 2015. But five years and one appeal later, Lyon’s lawyers negotiated a $5 million settlement that will allow him to continue his life with financial security.

An Okanogan County court threw out Lyon’s initial lawsuit against the Okanogan County Electric Cooperative and the Douglas County Public Utility District No. 1 for $100 million, claiming that the two utilities had neglected to clear branches from a power line that state investigators determined sparked the fire. An appeal, which was scheduled before the Washington state Supreme Court last month, was dismissed after Lyon reached a settlement.

Lyon’s attorneys were prepared to argue for the overturning of a legal doctrine that has prevented professional first-responders from pursuing damages in similar cases. The Professional Rescue Doctrine, according to Lyon’s lawyers (and other states which have thrown it out), violates the constitution by depriving people of equal protection and the right to sue for damages.

To treat the extensive burns and trauma suffered in the blaze, Lyon has had more than a dozen surgeries and 100 medical procedures, according to the Seattle Times.

While workers’ compensation benefits covered his massive medical bills and continue to provide a monthly stipend totaling about $1,100, Lyon’s life was irreparably altered in the incident and his career options limited as a result. His settlement helps rectify those damages.

Although the Professional Rescue Doctrine remains in place, nine Seattle firefighters injured in a 2016 natural-gas explosion have petitioned Washington’s Supreme Court to hear their case, which seeks damages from Puget Sound Energy and contractors.

Emery Reddy helps workers. Call us if you have workers’ comp, injury, or other employment law claim. You won’t get better advice.

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