State Laws Address Heatstroke Deaths of Unattended Children and Pets in Cars

On June 3, 2016, Gov. Kasich of Ohio signed into law a bill to allow bystanders to break into hot cars with unattended children or pets. Some states already have on the books one or more of three types of laws addressing this issue. Twenty states have laws to specifically address the issue of unattended children in cars, outside of any child neglect and abuse laws that would address endangering a child's welfare. Sixteen states have "good samaritan" laws that protect individuals from civil liability if they provide assistance in emergency situations. Finally, states have started to pass laws (23 states) that establish criminal offenses for endangering a domestic or companion animal by leaving them unattended in a vehicle. Some of these state laws also offer civil liability protection.