If you are injured while attending worship services or other activities at your church, synagogue, mosque, or house of worship, you may be entitled to compensation for accident-related expenses. Churches have the same legal duty of care for their visitors as any other public establishment.
How Slip and Fall Accidents Can Occur
Slip and fall accidents can occur in churches in many different ways. For example:
- Interior lighting is dim to provide an atmosphere for contemplation.
- The floors are often tile or marble, which can be slippery.
- Steps leading to balconies and alters are often made of polished wood, which provides minimal traction.
- Churches rely heavily on volunteers, who may leave items in unsafe locations due to a lack of training.
- Spills may not be promptly cleaned up if staffing levels are minimal.
- Due to a lack of funds, maintenance may be deferred—creating tripping hazards in parking lots and other areas of the facility.
- You may injure yourself while volunteering at a church event.
Protecting Your Right to Compensation
Even though a church is a nonprofit organization, most churches have employees, administrators, property, investments, and other financial assets. To protect their interests, they generally carry liability insurance. Coverage limits will vary, but most places of worship have policies similar to a small business that is regularly visited by the public.
If you are injured in a slip and fall accident at a church, you should seek an immediate medical evaluation. Even if you're only experiencing minor discomfort, you must rule out signs of a more serious injury while establishing a clear link between the accident and your condition.
You must also report the incident to the minister, pastor, or church administrator. If you are unable to make an immediate report due to your injuries, ask a friend to family member to make the initial notification on your behalf. This is necessary to seek compensation from the church's insurance company.
A slip and fall claim can include compensation for:
- Medical care, including anticipated future medical expenses related to your injuries from the incident
- Lost wages, including applicable loss of future earning potential
- Pain and suffering, including physical pain from your injuries and the emotional distress you suffered from the incident
How Fault Affects Your Compensation
In some cases, you can be found partially at fault for injuries suffered as the result of a slip and fall accident. For example, if you ignored warning signs that a floor was slippery or jumped over a barrier to enter a restricted area, you could be found to have partially contributed to your injuries.
You can still receive compensation if you are partially at fault. However, your settlement will be proportionally reduced by your assigned percentage of fault. This reflects your financial responsibility for the consequences of your actions.
The Value of Legal Representation
Although most personal injury claims are settled out of court, it's still in your best interests to consult an attorney. While you may believe that church officials wish to do the right thing, the insurance company's top priority is protecting its bottom line. This means you could be left without the funds necessary to pay your accident-related expenses.
It's understandable to be worried about legal costs if you've suffered injuries that have left you with medical expenses and/or limited your ability to work. However, personal injury attorneys accept cases on a contingency fee basis. This means your attorney will accept a percentage of the settlement as a fee for representation. Under this arrangement, your attorney has a vested interest in the outcome of your case, and you're able to obtain an advocate for your interests with no upfront expense.
The experienced personal injury attorneys at Neblett, Beard & Arsenault are dedicated to advocating for the rights of Louisiana residents who've suffered injuries as the result of a slip and fall accident. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation.