Good Samaritan legislation designed to encourage child rescue clears Senate

Published 10:27 am Tuesday, March 1, 2016

LANSING — The Michigan Senate on Tuesday approved legislation supported by Sen. John Proos to excuse a person from civil liability for damage caused by breaking into a car to save a child or animal.

“We have all heard of the tragic stories of children overheating because they were left in the back seat of a car for hours in the sun,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “This bill is about putting saving lives ahead of lawsuits by making sure that if a Good Samaritan has reason to believe that breaking in a car window is necessary to save the life of a child or pet, they won’t be sued for acting.”

Senate Bill 566 would provide civil immunity to an individual who forcibly enters a vehicle to save a minor who is reasonably believed to be in danger.

“Unfortunately, we are seeing more of these types of emergencies and tragedies each year,” Proos said. “Ten Michigan children and numerous animals have died of heatstroke while locked in a car since 1998. Since a child cannot regulate temperature changes like an adult, they are more vulnerable to heat.”

An individual who did all of the following would be immune from civil liability for any damage done to a vehicle:

• Determined that the vehicle was locked and there was no reasonable method for the minor or animal to exit the vehicle, or an alternative method to gain entry;

• Had reasonable belief, based on the circumstances known at the time, that forcibly entering the vehicle was necessary because the minor or animal was in danger;

• Contacted the local law enforcement agency, or fire department, before or after forcibly entering the vehicle;

• Placed a notice on the vehicle’s windshield with his or her contact information, the reason for the entry, the location of the minor or animal, and a statement that the local authorities had been notified; and

• Remained with the minor or animal in a safe location, out of the elements but reasonably close to the vehicle, until a law enforcement, fire, or other emergency responder arrived.

SB 566 has been sent to the Michigan House of Representatives for consideration.