In focusing on the spiritual side of life, churches can, at times, lose sight of the more physical issues that can arise at church. And this—coupled with a healthy dose of the very normal tendency to hope for the best and ignore the worst—can lead some church leaders to forget to take precautions against the real possibility of personal injury claims.
In fact, personal injury is one of the more common claims made in lawsuits against churches. And while a good proportion of the events giving rise to such complaints occur in the parking lot during the post-service scramble, they may also happen in a multitude of other contexts. These can include injuries sustained by employees during the performance of work, slip-and-falls in the hallway, or even harm that comes to children during vacation bible school or youth on youth trips.
Church leaders should prepare the church for the potential liability that can arise from such injuries.
One proactive step to take in this direction is to obtain the proper form of insurance for your church’s situation—which in many cases ought to include general liability insurance with coverage for church attendees, employees, officials and staff, alongside volunteers and third-party individuals who perform any work on the church’s property.
Of course, the insurance should be a stopgap measure, but it’s always best to put a great deal of thought into preventing injuries up front using proper safety measures. This means, for example, fixing any building or parking lot issues that may result in injury as quickly as possible, ensuring that slippery conditions both inside and outside the church buildings are clearly indicated using signage and are speedily resolved, and making sure that employees and staff are trained in safety so they may be aware of these risks and can act independently to limit them—including by keeping clutter to a minimum.
Naturally, Provident Law’s church and nonprofit attorneys are here to answer questions and to aid in establishing and crafting policies designed to reduce the risk of personal injury. And we are also available to defend your church should a claim arise. We recognize how essential the missions of nonprofit and religious organizations are for society, and we stand ready to counsel and serve the churches and nonprofit organizations of Arizona. Contact us to learn more.