OKLAHOMA CITY – Anyone breaking into a locked vehicle to rescue a child could not be sued, if a measure approved by both houses of the Legislature is signed into law.
House Bill 1902 passed unopposed in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.
HB 1902 would immunize from civil liability anyone who breaks out a window in a locked motor vehicle to save the life of an endangered child. Reps. James Lockhart, D-Heavener; Mike Shelton, D-Oklahoma City; and David Perryman, D-Chickasha, along with former House member and now Sen. Kevin Matthews, D-Tulsa, all signed on as co-authors of the proposal.
HB 1902 decrees that if someone breaks into a motor vehicle “for the purpose of removing a child” deemed to be in danger, that person would be immune from civil liability for any damage incurred to the car, truck or van.
During a typical Oklahoma summer, the temperature inside a hot car can rise more than 20 degrees in just 10 minutes. The body temperatures of children can increase three to five times faster than adults, medical officials say.
Under HB 1902, a Good Samaritan would be protected from liability if he:
- found the vehicle locked “or there is otherwise no reasonable method for the child to exit” the vehicle;
- has “a good-faith belief” that forcible entry “is necessary because the child is in imminent danger of suffering harm if not immediately removed” from the vehicle, and, “based upon the circumstances … the belief is a reasonable one”;
- contacts the local law-enforcement agency, the fire department or the 911 emergency telephone service prior to breaking into the vehicle;
- leaves a notice on the vehicle’s windshield “with the person’s contact information, the reason entry was made, the location of the child,” and word that authorities have been notified;
- remains with the child “in a safe location, out of the elements but reasonably close to the motor vehicle,” until the police or sheriff’s department, fire department or some other emergency responder arrives.