Texas Criminal Defense Group

In Texas, You Will Not be Held Liable when Saving a Hot Child from a Car 

Children die from being left in a hot car for an extended period of time too many times every year all over the country. But in Texas, it happens more often than in any other state.

It is for this reason that lawmakers have introduced legislation that makes it illegal to leave a child unattended in a car for even a short period of time. And now, there are also laws that will protect good Samaritans from civil liability if they break into a car to save a child.

Specific Laws

According to the Texas Penal Code, Title 5, Chapter 22, Section 10, individuals can be charged with a Class C misdemeanor if a child younger than seven years old is left alone in a vehicle, no matter the weather.

According to this law, children under that age need to be accompanied by an individual that is at least 14 years of age. Not only can parents and caregivers be criminally charged with a negligent act, but Child Protective Services will also investigate further.

Legal Action Car Owners Can Take

Individuals that notice a child left in a car will not be charged in Texas for breaking into the car to save the child but for the time being, those individuals may still face civil litigation for damaging someone else’s car. That is, they could face a potential lawsuit if the owner of the car wished to file a personal injury claim to recover the expenses related to the damage.  In the event of a lawsuit, individuals should seek the services of an experienced local attorney who can represent them.

Amendments to Current Laws

Section 1, Title 4 of the Civil Practices and Remedies Code has been amended so that individuals may remove vulnerable individuals from vehicles, even when that means breaking a window or otherwise causing damage to the car. According to the amendment, they can now do so without fear of facing a lawsuit or penalties. The new state law will go into effect on September 1, 2017.

The bill was first introduced by State Representative Jason Villalba, who understands the dangers of leaving a hot child in a car and how that fear should override any worry from individuals that just want to help.  It is advised that individuals that notice a child left in a car should still phone the police first to tell them about the situation and that they plan to break into the car to help.

When breaking a window, it is also advised that the window chosen is the one farthest away from the child, so they are not injured even more so by broken glass and other debris that may be flying through the air during the process.