Key point 7-20.1. In most states, whether a church is liable for injuries occurring on its premises will depend on whether the victim is an invitee, a licensee, or a trespasser. Churches, like any property owner, owe the highest degree of care to invitees, a lesser degree of care to licensees, and a very minimal degree of care to trespassers. As a result, it is more likely that churches will be liable for injuries to persons who meet the definition of an "invitee."
* A Louisiana court ruled that a $55,000 jury verdict in favor of an elderly woman who fell and broke her hip as a result of a defective floor mat was not unreasonably low. A 71-year-old church member (the "plaintiff") was attending her church for Sunday services. As she was walking from a Sunday school building to the main sanctuary she stepped through the threshold of the double doors leading out of the school building and placed her foot on a mat located just outside the doorway. She alleged that the heel of her shoe became stuck in a hole in the mat, causing her to fall to the ground. As a result of the fall, she sustained a broken hip and a blow to the head.