Visitor Question

Wife Fell Into a Hole on Church Property and Broke Her Arm…

Submitted By: Ralph (Stockbridge, GA)

Recently, a friend’s wife sustained serious injuries during a Halloween event. As she was walking across the church’s lawn, she stepped into a hole and suffered a broken left arm and possibly a fractured right ankle.

A few people witnessed the accident; particularly a woman who turned out to be a church member. She brought the pastor to my friend and told the pastor she didn’t believe his wife was injured. Upon hearing this, my friend stated that his wife was noticeably in pain, and would need medical attention immediately.

The pastor responded that his church only had coverage for fire and flood, and beyond that there’s not much that can be done to help with medical expenses. My friend has been out of work for a while, so therefore he has no medical coverage for his family or himself.

Does he have a case for personal injury against the church? By law are churches covered by some type of property insurance? Thank you for any information you can give.

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.

Answer

Dear Ralph,

We checked the laws in Georgia which regulate not-for-profit businesses such as churches and were unable to find any laws or regulations governing mandatory church liability insurance.

You mentioned the woman suffered a broken arm and “possibly a fractured right ankle”.

Before a demand for compensation might be initiated a determination of whether the right ankle was fractured would be important.

There really isn’t any such thing as a “possibly fractured ankle”.

Either it’s fractured or it isn’t. It would have been prudent when determining the fracture to the woman’s left arm to have also determined the possible fracture to her right ankle. It seems incongruous you would be sure about one fracture and not the other.

If she did fracture any bones while walking on the church grounds she would have a personal injury case against the church. Even if the church had liability insurance the only compensation the woman would be able to get might be enough to cover her actual and documented medical bills, as well as small amount for pain and suffering.

Because she was apparently out of work at the time she was injured, there wouldn’t be any compensation for lost wages.

Inasmuch as the church was uninsured for liability, and the church refuses to compensate the woman, her only alternative would be to file a lawsuit. The State of Georgia has one of the highest jurisdictional limits in the United States for Small Clams Courts. That amount is $15,000.00.

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) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: November 3, 2011

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