Key Point 7-20.2. A variety of defenses are available to a church that is sued as a result of an injury occurring on its premises.
A Washington court ruled that a church was not legally responsible for the death of a three-year-old child who was run over and killed by a vehicle that was pulling into a church parking lot. A church had a small parking lot with one row of angled parking spaces separated from the church building by a driveway. On the day of the accident, a mother was dropping her young children off at vacation bible school. She pulled into one of the angled parking spaces. She let her older children get out first and then helped her three-year old son (the "victim") out of his car seat and onto the asphalt parking lot next to the driver side of her vehicle.
At the same time, a van driven by another woman entered the parking lot and came to a screeching halt to let the victim's older siblings cross the driveway and enter the church. The victim's mother, concerned by the noise of screeching breaks, left the victim next to her vehicle and went to check on her other children. After watching them safely cross the driveway and enter the church, she returned to the victim and discovered that he had moved approximately 15 to 20 feet away from her vehicle. Meanwhile, the van driver proceeded to drive toward the victim. The victim's mother recognized the danger her son was in, and tried to catch up with him. As she ran toward him she saw him enter one of the vacant parking spaces just as the van driver pulled into the same space. The van struck and fatally injured the victim.