Can You Legally Break a Car Window to Save a Child or Dog From the Heat in Indiana?
Indiana summer heat is no joke, but can you legally break into a car to save a dog from the heat?
Don't Leave Pets, Kids, or Those Who Can't Fend for Themselves Alone in Hot Cars
This should go without saying, but you should never leave your pet or child in a car unattended, especially during the summertime. Cars act almost like ovens in the summertime, and can quickly get much hotter inside of the car than the outside air.
According to Live Science, researchers conducted a study and found that on a 95-degree day, the temperature inside a car reached 116 degrees within one hour. Live Science also noted that when a person is inside a car with the windows up, they are breathing, therefore they are adding to the humidity inside of the car. The situation can become very dangerous rather quickly.
Let's Talk Legality
If you're walking past a car on a hot day and happen to notice a child or a dog inside of the car unattended, can you legally break in to help them? The short answer is, yes. The long answer is a little more complicated if you want to make sure you are protected from having to pay for damages.
Good Samaritan Law Helps Protect People Who Save Children
If you happen to see a child in danger of heatstroke you can intervene. StatehouseFile.com says:
House Bill 1161 provides that a “child” is any individual under the age of 18 who is unable to exit a motor vehicle on his or her own. The bill will grant immunity to an individual who:
- Determines the car is locked and that there is no other way of getting the child out.
- Has a good faith belief that the child is in serious danger of suffering harm if not immediately removed.
- Contacts law enforcement before or as soon as they are able.
- Uses no more force than necessary.
- Remains with the child near the vehicle until law enforcements arrive at the scene.
Indiana Law Helps Protect People Who Rescue Dogs From Hot Cars
Now when rescuing an animal it is a little different. While rescuing a child from a hot car falls under the Good Samaritan law, there is an actual law for helping animals trapped in hot cars.
According to the Indy Star there is a law that went into effect in 2017 that makes it legal for animals to be rescued from vehicles, but there is a chance the person rescuing the animal could be held liable for paying half of the repair bill for the vehicle.
Indy Star goes on to explain:
In order to be immune from charges, the rescuer must have contacted police before attempting to break in, believe the animal is in danger, use reasonable force, and stay with the animal until authorities arrive
You can read more about these laws and more ways to protect others from the heat, in the Indy Star article, here.