Premises liability cases, like most other cases brought under the legal theory of negligence, require that the plaintiff establish the defendant owed them a duty of care. In many cases, this element is the easiest for the plaintiff to prove, but in others there may be substantial litigation over whether a duty of care exists. In a recent case in front of a state appellate court, the court had to decide if a church had a duty to its churchgoers in providing them some assistance in crossing a dangerous street to get from the church parking lot to the church itself.
In the case, Vasilenko v. Grace Family Church, the court ultimately determined that a duty did exist, requiring the church to take some precautions to ensure that churchgoers could safely cross the street.
The Facts of the Case
Grace Family Church is located on a busy five-lane road. The church has a small parking lot next to it that fills up quickly when busy church events are being held. To help accommodate the additional cars, the church contracted with a local business to use the business’ parking lot across the five-lane road.
The location of the church and the parking lot across the street were both mid-block, meaning that while there were crosswalks on either end of the block, the most direct way to get from the parking lot to the church was to cross the street mid-block. Volunteer parking attendants from the church would sit outside and help direct overflow traffic to the parking lot when necessary.
On the day of the plaintiff’s accident, he arrived at the church’s main parking lot and was re-directed to the lot across the street. He was directed to a parking spot by another volunteer, and then he set off to cross the street to the church. However, on his way across the street, he was struck by a vehicle, resulting in serious injuries.
The plaintiff sued the church under a premises liability theory. The church’s main defense was that there was no duty it had to the plaintiff, since the location where the accident occurred was a public road, and the church had no control over the road. However, the court hearing the case disagreed, considering the location of the parking lot, how churchgoers were directed to the lot, and the known hazardous nature of the road. The court determined that while the general rule is that an accident occurring off the defendant’s land won’t result in a duty to protect, these facts were different, and a duty should be imposed.
Have You Been Injured on the Land of Another Party?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured while on the land of another party, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a premises liability lawsuit. In Indiana, businesses have a duty to ensure that their property is safe, and a business’ failure to do so may result in liability. To learn more about Indiana premises liability cases, call 888-532-7766 to set up a free consultation.
Man Injured by Faulty Handrail Denied Compensation Based on Incomplete Negligence Claim, Indiana Injury Lawyer Blog, June 27, 2016
Appellate Court Denies Insurance Company’s Jurisdictional Challenge to Accident Victim’s Lawsuit, Indiana Injury Lawyer Blog, July 13, 2016