If you render aid to someone in need, but your actions end up causing injury to the person or property, are you at risk of being sued or even facing criminal charges? This is a relevant issue in the field of personal injury law. A recent case involving a woman who smashed through a windshield with a tire iron to save a baby left in a hot car shows the Texas "Good Samaritan" Law in action.
On Sunday, the last official day of summer, a woman in an H-E-B supermarket parking lot noticed a baby who had been left in a parked car. She decided to take action, in spite of warnings from security and others at the scene. Using a tire iron, she broke the vehicle's windshield and crawled into the car to unlock the door and free the baby.
Witnesses at the scene said that H-E-B personnel tried to reach the baby's parents through the loudspeaker system, but no one responded. The parents did not arrive at the scene until sometime later.
According to H-E-B surveillance footage, the one-year-old boy had been left in the vehicle for nearly 40 minutes. Considering that the temperatures inside a closed vehicle can quickly rise to dangerous levels even in on a relatively mild summer day, this woman's actions could have saved the baby's life. After he was freed from the vehicle, the baby was taken by Emergency Medical Services (EMS) to Methodist Children's Hospital, where he was treated for dehydration.
The father said he forgot that the baby was in the car, according to police. He is facing third-degree felony charges for child endangerment.
Meanwhile, the baby will be placed in the custody of Child Protective Services.
In the same or similar situation, some people may not have taken action as the woman did to break the windshield and free the baby from the hot car. For fear of arrest or even being sued by the baby's parents, another person may not have done anything until the authorities arrived at the scene, but this woman is most likely protected by the Texas Good Samaritan Law, which is a part of the Texas Charitable Immunity Act.
This law limits the civil liability of people who, in good faith, administer emergency care to others in need. An example may be a person who stops to give first aid to a person who has been injured in a car accident, or in the case above, a person who saves a baby from a hot car. If this person is acting in good faith and causes property damage, injury or other harm, he or she may be protected from being sued by the injured party.
There are exceptions to the Good Samaritan Law. If a person is willfully or wantonly negligent in administering emergency care, offers such care in expectation for remuneration (compensation) or was the cause of the victim's situation in the first place, he or she may not be protected.
As Houston personal injury attorneys, we at The Daspit Law Firm are familiar with this law and how it applies to the cases we handle. If you were injured and would like to discuss whether the good Samaritan law may apply to someone who actually caused more harm at the scene, we can talk to you about what occurred to determine how to best seek justice. Our firm handles personal injury cases involving 18-wheeler accidents, industrial accidents, defective products, slip and fall accidents and much more. Call today to see how we can help you.