Bills to provide civil immunity for persons entering vehicles to save children and animals passes Senate committee

01/21/2016 02:06 PM

FRANKFORT – Two bills which would provide immunity for individuals who break into a vehicle to rescue a child and/or animals who appear to be in danger have passed the Senate Committee on Judiciary.

Senate Bill 16, sponsored by Sen. Danny Carroll, R-Paducah, would provide civil immunity for someone breaking into and damaging a vehicle to rescue a minor who is in imminent danger of harm if not removed from the vehicle.

The legislation would also encourage the Transportation Cabinet to implement an education program concerning children left in cars.

Senate Bill 53, also sponsored by Carroll, would provide the same civil immunity for individuals breaking into a car to save a dog or cat in danger of death — if not removed from the vehicle.

Carroll said that the bills spell out specific steps for people who find themselves in a situation where they feel like they might need to enter a vehicle to save a life.

“The idea is to follow the steps that are required in the bill, notification of 911, to stay with the child and there has to be a reasonable belief,” Carroll said. “Although it may not stop a lawsuit, it would be a defense if those things are meant and could grant immunity in those cases.”

Carroll admits that there have not been many instances in Kentucky where someone has entered a car or truck in an attempt to save a child, and part of the reason for that is the possible civil liability.

“That’s a major step to break into someone’s car but, you know, the value of a child’s life is far greater than any damage that’s done to that car,” he said. “I feel like the steps that are in the bill are reasonable and again, the goal is to save lives of children and bring awareness to this issue because we do have about 37 child deaths across the country each year.”

Carroll purposely kept both bill separate to put a priority on a child’s life over an animal.

Se. Robin Webb, D-Grayson, cast the lone no vote on both bills because she believes that they are unnecessary and could open the door to some unintended consequences.

“There are just some legalistic issues that I have with the bill,” Webb Said. “I think the measure is very broad with a very subjective standard of good faith and reasonability where there’s no real visual requirements or anything of that nature.”

The bills move on to the full Senate floor for consideration.

Don Weber

Don Weber is a Video Journalist for Spectrum News and covers politics and education on Pure Politics, Kentucky’s only nightly program dedicated to state politics. Don is a lifelong Kentuckian and a graduate of Northern Kentucky University. He spent many years covering sports in the Northern Kentucky area before shifting primarily to politics. You can watch Don’s work weeknights at 7:00 and 11:30 on Pure Politics, available exclusively on Spectrum News, HD Channels 403 and 715. If you have a story idea you can reach Don at donald.weber@charter.com.

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