As photographic and video cameras have became more prevalent, especially
as a function of smart phones, we began seeing footage of accident and
crime scenes appear on the Internet. Some of this footage was
taken by first responders.
In 2012, a law was enacted that prohibits first responders from making
any type of recording of a motor vehicle accident or "emergency
situation." It can be found at 2A:58D-2.
There is, of course, an exception which states, "except in accordance
with applicable rules, regulations, or operating procedures of the
agency employing the first responder."
This law is not very well known which makes it a great topic to cover in
2A:58D-2 Definitions relative to invasion of
privacy relative to first responders; violations, penalties.
1. a. As used in this section:
"Disclose" means to sell, manufacture, give,
provide, lend, trade, mail, deliver, transfer, publish, distribute,
circulate, disseminate, present, exhibit, advertise, or offer.
"First responder" means a law enforcement
officer, paid or volunteer firefighter, paid or volunteer member of
a duly incorporated first aid, emergency, ambulance, or rescue squad
association, or any other individual who, in the course of his
employment, is dispatched to the scene of a motor vehicle accident
or other emergency situation for the purpose of providing medical
care or other assistance.
b. A first responder who is dispatched to
or is otherwise present at the scene of a motor vehicle accident or
other emergency situation, for the purpose of providing medical care
or other assistance, shall not photograph, film, videotape, record,
or otherwise reproduce in any manner, the image of a person being
provided medical care or other assistance, except in accordance with
applicable rules, regulations, or operating procedures of the agency
employing the first responder.
c. A first responder shall not disclose
any photograph, film, videotape, record, or other reproduction of
the image of a person being provided medical care or other
assistance at the scene of a motor vehicle accident or other
emergency situation without the prior written consent of the person,
or the person's next-of-kin if the person cannot provide consent,
unless that disclosure was for a legitimate law enforcement, public
safety, health care, or insurance purpose or pursuant to a court
d. A person who knowingly violates the
provisions of subsection c. of this section shall be guilty of a
disorderly persons offense.
e. In addition to any other right of
action or recovery otherwise available under the laws of this State,
a first responder who knowingly violates the provisions of
subsection b. or c. of this section shall be liable to the person
whose image was taken or disclosed, who may bring a civil action in
the Superior Court.
The court may award:
(1) actual damages, but not less than
liquidated damages computed at the rate of $1,000 for each violation
of this act;
(2) punitive damages upon proof of
willful or reckless disregard of the law;
(3) reasonable attorney's fees and other
litigation costs reasonably incurred; and
(4) such other preliminary and equitable
relief as the court determines to be appropriate.
L.2012, c.28, s.1.