Visitor Question

Injured while playing basketball in church gym…

Submitted By: Cindy (Vancouver, WA)

My son was playing basketball in the church gym.

It was open gym for members, and a member of the church invited him to come and play. He ended up with 2 broken bones in his eye socket and a concussion. He had to be taken to the emergency room and the total bill for this is $5,900.00.

It looks like my medical insurance is going to pay approx. $5000.00. Could the church be liable for the balance? We don’t think we should have to pay this bill at all. What are our rights here? Thank you.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.


Dear Cindy,

For your son to be compensated for injuries sustained on the church basketball court will require a showing of negligence. Moreover, there must be a showing that negligence was the direct and proximate cause of your son’s injuries.

From the facts you present, there doesn’t appear to have been any negligence. Your son assumed the risk when he agreed to join the game. No one forced him to do so.

Assumption of the risk is legal doctrine. When applied to sports activities it means those people who are willing participants in sports activities assume the risk they may be injured. They do so under reasonably foreseeable circumstances.

For example, your son willingly agreed to join the basketball game. He could have chosen not to. When doing so he had a right to believe if he was injured, it would be as part of the game, and not from another source, especially a source which represented a negligent act or omission by a non-sports participant.

If, for instance, the church recently applied wax to the basketball court floor and that wax was meant only for tiled floors, not for wood flooring, and as a result of the wax your son fell and broke 2 bones in his eye socket and sustained a concussion, then your son would have the basis of a personal injury claim against the church.

An improperly waxed floor was not a foreseeable risk for your son when choosing to play basketball.

For the church to defend itself against an injury claim your son might consider filing, the church would have to show only two elements:

1. Your son had actual knowledge of the risk involved in the conduct or activity (a basketball game)

2. Your son voluntary accepted the risk, either expressly through agreement or impliedly by his words and conduct (by voluntarily joining the game)

Learn more here: Claims Against Churches/Synagogues

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney.

Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call 888-972-0892.

Best of luck with your claim,


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