A Kentucky state legislator has pre-filed a pair of bills to reduce civil penalties against bystanders who break into hot cars to free trapped children and pets.
According to the National Safety Council, 44 children died in 2014 from vehicular heatstroke in the United States.
Currently, 16 states have laws to rescind civil liability against a person who breaks into a warming vehicle to save a child. This year, Tennessee passed the first law to free a person of liability for saving an animal.
Now, State Sen. Danny Carroll (R-Paducah) is sponsoring Kentucky’s own “Good Samaritan” legislation.
“Having 24 years in law enforcement, from time to time we made these calls, from time to time we’ve had officers have to forcibly enter a car to get a child out," said Carroll. "So we felt like it was time to do something in Kentucky and act on this.”
According to the bill, the bystander must still try to contact the car’s owner and emergency personnel before breaking the window, and must stay with the child or animal until medical help arrives. But, if passed, the law would save the bystander from being sued by the owner for damages to the vehicle.
"We all know that in this day and time you can and will be sued for anything and everything so it’s just a step that we felt like we could take to give some protections to those folks, especially in the case of children," said Carroll.
Carroll says the bills were pre-filed separately so as not to equate the value of a child with that of an animal. But he says both stand a good chance of passing as he can't foresee any opposition.
The 2016 legislative session begins January 5th.