Any business (including churches and religious organizations) that invites visitors onto its property will more often than not be held legally responsible for injuries that occur to visitors on the premises.
As a business, the church has a responsibility to create a reasonably safe environment for invitees on the premises. If the church or organization fails to meet that obligation and somebody becomes injured on the property, the visitor may be able to sue the organization for the resulting injury.
Preventing Personal Injury Lawsuits:
In order to minimize your organization’s exposure to personal liability lawsuits, take the time every day to look for any safety hazards such as loose carpet or a water leak. If you notice any potential hazards, take immediate steps to fix them and place warning signs around the hazard to notify visitors to be careful in the area.
Dealing With Personal Injury Lawsuits:
Depending on the severity of the injury, personal injury lawsuits can be quite expensive. Contact your insurance carrier to understand the details of your liability plan and to find out which events are covered under your insurance and which events are not. You might be surprised at what you learn and any events not covered under the insurance plan become the financial responsibility of the church.
If your organization does not have a surplus of money in the bank, it may have to sell the assets of the business (including property owned by the organization) to pay for the suit, possibility dismantling the organization.
Asha Wilkerson is the founder of The Wilkerson Law Office. She is also the author of Employment Law for Church Leaders. Ms. Wilkerson provides skilled advice and counsel to for-profit, non-profit, and faith-based organizations in the areas of business and employment law. The mission of The Wilkerson Law Office, is to preserve the longevity of your business by ensuring that every aspect of your organization is legally sound and operating in compliance with state and federal law.