How Can Your Church Avoid Liability Issues?

How Can Your Church Avoid Liability Issues? August 17, 2022

At church, God heals your soul through worship and praise. He takes care of your spirit, so you should do what you can to protect your body and others while in the church.

Accidents can happen and your church could be liable if you do not take care of pressing issues. Follow this guide to help protect your church from legal disputes.

What Are Common Liability Issues for Churches?

Personal injury lawsuits are among the most common cases in civil court. These civil cases — or torts — happen when a person sues another person or entity for physical or emotional harm.

The most common reason someone may sue a church or a place of business is negligence. This term means the property owner neglected to care for something that ended up harming another person. Some examples of negligence at a church may include the following.

Endangering Children

Some Sunday school or daycare groups may take the children outside to a playground. If the playground equipment is hazardous, that could open liability issues for your church.

Damaging Another Property

This instance occurs when your property damages your neighbor’s property. For example, think of the trees on your church’s land near the property line. If the tree is dangerous or unhealthy, you must fix the problem — or your church could be liable.

Failing to Warn

This may be a church’s most common liability risk. There must be a warning about a hazard on your church’s property so everybody knows what to watch out for.

Not Safeguarding Parking Lots

Whenever a church event happens, people come from all over to hear the word of God. There are cars, trucks and church vans all over the parking lot. Your church could be liable for lacking speed limit signs, adequately sized parking spaces and a lighting system outside.

How Can Churches Get Ahead of Liability Issues?

One way to help your church avoid liability issues is to get ahead before they can even appear. Matthew 25:13 says, “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” You should be mindful of accidents that can happen around the church and take proactive steps.

Use Warning Signs

One of the simplest things you can do to avoid legal issues is to warn your congregation of issues. This warning sign could be as simple as a wet floor sign outside a bathroom. Put up clearly labeled indicators in front of any hazard because it can be a liability if you fail to warn others.

Shovel Snow and Ice

Slip-and-fall accidents are a common issue, especially in the winter months. Property owners are responsible for removing snow and ice to make reasonably safe conditions for everybody. After a winter storm, shovel the snow and use salt to create safe walkways.

Repair As Damage Happens

Just like shoveling snow, your church should attend to any repairs around the building as soon as possible. You may see railings, electrical cords, outdoor lighting and other structures needing some fixing. Document when you saw the issue and when you made changes. You can also be mindful by regularly scheduling maintenance for all the vehicles your church owns.

Contact an Expert

Sometimes, there are issues your church employees are unable to fix. In this instance, see if a congregation member knows how to tend to the problem. Promptly doing this will solve the problem quickly and avoid future legal issues.

How Can Your Church Handle Legal Issues?

Mark 10:18 says, “And Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.’” Accidents happen at church and yours may face legal challenges. Luckily, there are ways you can help your church if it finds itself in a lawsuit. Some of these steps include:

  • Hiring an attorney: If you think your church may face legal issues, the best person to contact is a licensed attorney for your state. They are well-versed in the law and can point you in the right direction.
  • Document everything: Take note of maintenance work, employee training, performance and other measures. Documenting these occurrences can help your church if you need to take action and prove you have the paperwork for any situation.

Keeping Your Church Safe

Philippians 2:3-5 says to look out for the interests of others in addition to yourself and have your mind in Jesus Christ. Taking care of yourself and others at church is vital, so you should put great care into your facilities. A church is sacred and should be safe for all to worship the word of God.

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