As the weather heats up, we begin to see the unfortunate headlines about children and pets being left unattended in hot cars. Whether you are a parent, pet owner, or bystander looking to save a life, it is important to understand the dangers of leaving a child or pet in a hot car and the laws in place to prevent any unfortunate circumstance.
You may think that, since you are only going to be a few minutes in the grocery store, it should be fine to leave your child or pet unattended in a car, but in actuality, it can only take a few minutes for a car to go from comfortable to deathly hot.
Under South Carolina law, anyone who leaves a child under the age of 18 alone in a vehicle faces a felony charge of up to ten years in prison. Similarly, it is a crime to leave a pet in a car and can constitute ill treatment of an animal charges.
What happens if you are a bystander and witness a child or pet left unattended sweltering in a car? Could you face charges for breaking into a vehicle that isn’t yours to save a life?
While you should first call the police to report the situation, there are Good Samaritan Laws in place to protect you and the victim if you find yourself in this situation:
Section 15-1-310: (A) Any person, who in good faith gratuitously renders emergency care at the scene of an accident or emergency to the victim thereof, shall not be liable for any civil damages for any personal injury as a result of any act or omission by such person in rendering the emergency care or as a result of any act or failure to act to provide or arrange for further medical treatment or care for the injured person, except acts or omissions amounting to gross negligence or wilful or wanton misconduct.
In other words, if you decide to render aid in this situation, do it well and the Good Samaritan law will protect you from being sued, unless you act recklessly. Like all things in life, if you decide to do something, do it to the best of your ability.
The Peper Law Firm is here to serve you in any capacity you may need. Please contact us for a free consultation.