Wisconsin’s Hot Car Law

When summer heats up, so do our cars. Every year, dogs and children die when left unattended in overheated cars. A car can become an oven in a matter of minutes. The temperature outside may be misleading. On a 78-degree day, the temperature inside a parked car can jump to 120 degrees in just minutes, and on a 90-degree day, the interior can soar up to 160 degrees in less than 10 minutes. Even with the windows rolled down part way, the temperature can get dangerously high. You have the power to save a life! If you have a choice, on warm days leave companion animals home rather than leave them in the car when you are doing errands.

The good news is that in Wisconsin, you are immune from civil liability when taking any steps necessary to rescue an animal (or human)  trapped in a vehicle. However, immunity is provided only if certain conditions are met.

Wisconsin Statute Section 895.484, enacted in 2015, makes a person immune from civil liability for property damage or injury resulting from his or her forcible entry into a vehicle to rescue an animal or person.

These conditions must be met for immunity from civil liability. TAKE NOTE!

  • The person must have a “good faith belief” that the person or domestic animal was in imminent danger of suffering bodily harm and used no more force than necessary to remove the person or animal.
  • That person must have first determined the vehicle was locked and forcible entry was necessary, and
  • That person must have dialed 911 or other emergency services prior to this action.
  • In addition, the person must have waited with the person or animal until emergency services arrived or left information on the vehicle’s windshield as described in the law.

 

895.484  Civil liability exemption; entering a vehicle to render assistance.
(1)  In this section:
(a) “Domestic animal” means a dog, cat, or other animal that is domesticated and kept as a household pet, but does not include a farm animal, as defined in s. 951.01 (3).
(b) “Vehicle” means a motor vehicle, or any other vehicle, that is used to transport persons or cargo and that is enclosed.
 (2) A person is immune from civil liability for property damage or injury that results from his or her forcible entry into a vehicle if all of the following are true:
(a) A person or a domestic animal was present in the vehicle and the actor had a good faith belief that the person or domestic animal was in imminent danger of suffering bodily harm unless he or she exited or was removed from the vehicle.
(b) The actor determined that the vehicle was locked and that forcible entry was necessary to enable the actor to enter the vehicle or to enable the person or domestic animal to be removed from or to exit the vehicle.
(c) The actor dialed the telephone number “911″ or otherwise contacted law enforcement, emergency medical services, or animal control before he or she forcibly entered the vehicle.
(d) The actor remained with the person or domestic animal until a law enforcement officer, emergency medical service provider, animal control officer, or other emergency medical responder, as defined in s. 256.01 (4p), arrived at the scene.
(e) The actor used no more force than he or she reasonably believed necessary to enter the vehicle in order to remove the person or domestic animal or to allow the person or domestic animal to exit the vehicle.
(f) If the actor left the scene before the owner or operator of the vehicle returned to the scene, the actor placed a notice on the windshield of the vehicle that included his or her name, telephone number, and mailing address, the reason he or she entered the vehicle, and the location, if known, of the person or domestic animal when the actor left the scene.
History: 2015 a. 1032017 a. 12.