As of September 1: More Protection for Rescuing Child in Hot, Locked Car

Tragically, we regularly hear the reports on the news of children who have died as a result of being locked in a vehicle in our extreme summer heat.

While Texas law has afforded protection from criminal law to Good Samaritans who have stepped in to help, these citizens remained vulnerable to civil suits by the parents, car owners and others.

That has changed with the passage of HB 478 during this past Regular Session of the Texas Legislature. Effective September 1, “A person who, by force or otherwise, enters a motor vehicle for the purposes of removing a vulnerable individual from the vehicle is immune from civil liability for damages resulting from that entry and renewal” IF that person:

1. Determines the motor vehicle is locked or with no reasonable method for the individual to exit without assistance;

2. Has a good faith and reasonable belief entry is necessary to avoid imminent harm;

3. Notifies law enforcement or 911 before entering;

4. Uses no more force than is necessary to remove the individual; and

5. Remains with the individual in a safe location until first responders arrive.

It is worthy to note that the definition of a “motor vehicle” includes trailers and semitrailers designed for use with a self-propelled vehicle, and that “a vulnerable individual” is defined as “a child younger than seven years old; or an individual who by reason of age or physical or mental disease, defect or injury is unable to protect their self from harm.”

Animals are not covered by the law.

Thank you to our CFRW member and Cy-Fair VFD Fire Chief Amy Ramon for bringing this to our attention. A copy of the Act as enrolled is attached to this article.

There are a number of other new laws that go into effect September 1. Just a few which may impact you, your children and grandchildren include:

-No texting while driving (see last month’s article)

-Open carry for knives, swords and machetes

-Elimination of local restrictions on ridesharing companies such as Uber and Lyft

-Lower fees for [gun] carry licenses

-Cyberbullying of persons under the age of 18 becoming a Class A Misdemeanor

-Grace periods for students without lunch money

-Restrictions on where you may fly drones

-Nondisclosure (i.e. a “second chance”) for certain low-level crimes

-Prohibition of suspension as a penalty for children below third grade



H.B.  No. 478

AN ACT
relating to civil liability for removing certain individuals from a
motor vehicle.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:

SECTION 1.  Title 4, Civil Practice and Remedies Code, is
amended by adding Chapter 92A to read as follows:

CHAPTER 92A. LIMITATION OF LIABILITY FOR REMOVING CERTAIN
INDIVIDUALS FROM MOTOR VEHICLE

Sec. 92A.001.  DEFINITIONS. 
In this chapter:
(1)  "Motor vehicle" means a vehicle that is
self-propelled or a trailer or semitrailer designed for use with a
self-propelled vehicle.
(2)  "Vulnerable individual" means:
(A)  a child younger than seven years of age; or
(B)  an individual who by reason of age or
physical or mental disease, defect, or injury is substantially
unable to protect the individual ’s self from harm.
Sec. 92A.002.  LIMITATION OF LIABILITY. A person who, by
force or otherwise, enters a motor vehicle for the purpose of
removing a vulnerable individual from the vehicle is immune from
civil liability for damages resulting from that entry or removal if
the person:
(1)  determines that:
(A)  the motor vehicle is locked; 
or​

                                            H.B.  No. 478

(B) there is no reasonable method for the individual to exit the 
         motor vehicle without assistance;
(2)  has a good faith and reasonable belief, based on known                        circumstances, that entry into the motor vehicle is necessary
         to avoid imminent harm to the individual;
(3)  before entering the motor vehicle, ensures that law enforcement          is notified or 911 is called if the person is not a law                              enforcement officer or other first responder;
(4)  uses no more force to enter the motor vehicle and remove the              individual than is necessary; and
(5)  remains with the individual in a safe location that is in reasonable          proximity to the motor vehicle until a law enforcement officer or          other first responder arrives.

Sec. 92 .003.  EFFECT ON OTHER LAWS. This chapter does not
affect limitation under Section 74.151 or 74.152 of a person ’s
liability for good faith administration of emergency care.

SECTION 2.  Chapter 92A, Civil Practice and Remedies Code,
as added by this Act, applies only to a cause of action that accrues
on or after the effective date of this Act.

SECTION 3.  This Act takes effect September 1, 2017.

                                        H.B. No. 478

______________________                   _____________________
President of the Senate                            Speaker of the House

I certify that H.B. No. 478 was passed by the House on May 8, 2017, by the following vote:  Yeas 145, Nays 1, 2 present, not voting; and that the House concurred in Senate amendments to H.B. No. 478 on May 24, 2017, by the following vote:  Yeas 145, Nays 0, 2 present, not voting.

                                                                  ______________________________
                                                                         Chief Clerk of the House


I certify that H.B. No. 478 was passed by the Senate, with amendments, on May 23, 2017, by the following vote:  Yeas 31, Nays 0.

                                                                    _______________________________
                                                                            Secretary of the Senate

APPROVED: _____________    
                        Date



                    ______________
                        Governor


Gail Schubot, CFRW Legislative Chair 

August 21, 2017​
Legislative News
    Gail Schubot
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