Religious institutions can and are sued when they act in negligent or criminal ways. The Episcopal Church, for example, has faced property claims while the Roman Catholic Church has settled claims related to sexual abuse cases. While they don’t make the news as often, personal injury and premises liability cases in Miami and across the country are filed against churches.
Do I Have a Claim?
If you have suffered an injury on church property, you may have a claim. However, you will also want to speak to an experienced attorney, since religious institutions enjoy special protection under the First Amendment and courts have returned different rulings in civil claims. This means you may face additional challenges when pursuing a claim against a church and will want an experienced attorney to help you.
If you’re not sure whether you have a claim, speak to a personal injury attorney. An attorney can review the facts and discuss legal options you may have for seeking compensation.
What Kinds of Church Claims are Common?
The most common civil claims against churches have involved:
- Slip and fall injuries: Churches have a duty to maintain their property, which may include repairing railings, keeping floor surfaces clean and dry, repairing cracks and uneven walkways, and taking other steps. When churches fail to take these precautions and visitors are injured as a result, injured parties may have a claim.
- Car accident claims: Churches who do not set up safe parking areas, with adequate signage and lighting, may be held liable if someone is injured as a result of an insufficient parking set-up. Another situation where churches may face liability concerns churches that hire buses or shuttles for events. If these vehicles are not properly maintained or if the driver is not carefully vetted and a collision results because of this, the church may face legal claims if passengers are injured.
- Assault and abuse cases: Religious institutions have been called to account over the past few years for knowing about abuse, especially of minors, and not taking adequate action. The survivors of abuse at the hands of officials and on church grounds may have a claim against the church.
- Premises liability claims: Churches that do not maintain pews, ceilings, statues, and other furnishings or parts of their property can be held liable if someone is injured as a result of poor maintenance or church design. If a statue or heavy piece of furniture falls on a visitor or if a pew breaks and someone is injured, for example, these situations can lead to a civil claim.
What Should I Do If I Have Been Injured?
If you have been injured in a church, get emergency medical attention if you need it. For example, if you have hit your head, make sure you get immediate medical help to rule out the possibility of a serious concussion.
After you have taken care of emergency medical assistance, report the injury to the church leaders. Get a copy of the incident report if you can. If a crime such as abuse has occurred in the church, report the incident to police and get a copy of the police report.
You may also wish to speak to a premises liability attorney in Miami. An attorney can tell you whether you have a claim and can take care of the details of filing a claim, reviewing settlements, and getting the case through the courts or settlement negotiations. If you’d like to speak to an attorney, contact Flaxman Law Group at 1-866-352-9626 (1-866-FLAXMAN) for a free consultation. Our team has more than 60 years of combined experience and we have recovered many multi-million-dollar settlements and court wins for our clients.