In most states, good Samaritans who break through an automobile window to rescue trapped elderly persons, children or pets could find themselves financially responsible for the repair bill. If that seems unfair to you, then you should be glad to know that the state of Florida agrees. A new Florida law is set to protect well-meaning "hot car heroes" from liability in these situations.
As you might expect, the Sunshine State can get very hot -- especially in the summer time. This presents deadly dangers for any person or animal locked inside a car for too long. High temperatures can quickly result in heat stroke, brain damage and death after only a short period of time inside a hot, unventilated vehicle. In fact, 700 children have been killed by heat stroke after being left in parked cars in Florida since 1991. More recently (since 2010), 23 elderly people and children have died after being left in hot vehicles in the state.
Florida Citizens Agree: Hot Car Heroes Should Not Be Liable
Florida citizens agree that good Samaritans should not have to worry about legal repercussions when faced with the decision to save someone's life. One woman said, "If it was a hot day and I didn't think I could wait for the police to get there I would break the window immediately without hesitation ... They should be able to do that without worrying about legal consequences."
Another man from Fort Myers Beach said, "I think that is an absolutely excellent idea especially in Florida where it can get to be 120 degrees inside that car in a heartbeat."
State Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, who co-sponsored the law, recently told reporters that the legislation "will give people the opportunity to take action and save those pets."
Break the Window and Call 911
In order to be protected by the new law, "hot car heroes" will first need to make sure that the pet, child or elderly individual is in distress. Then, they are advised to try opening the vehicle by pulling on the door and, if it is open, safely remove the individuals or animals trapped inside. Otherwise, they are advised to break the window and immediately contact 911.
The bill has yet to be signed into law, but it was passed by the state senate and it's currently en route to Florida's Governor Rick Scott for approval.
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