Personal Injuries on Church Property and During Church Activities – Part 2

A New York court ruled that a church was not liable for injuries suffered by a child who fell from a piece of playground equipment on church property during an organized “after school” program.

Church Law and Tax2002-11-01

Personal injuries on church property or during church activities

Key point 10-11. A church may be legally responsible on the basis of negligent supervision for injuries resulting from a failure to exercise adequate supervision of its programs and activities.

Key point 10-11.1. Churches can reduce the risk of liability based on negligent supervision for injuries not involving sexual misconduct by adopting risk management policies and procedures.

Negligence as a Basis for Liability

* A New York court ruled that a church was not liable for injuries suffered by a child who fell from a piece of playground equipment on church property during an organized “after school” program. A child was injured when he slipped and fell while engaged in normal play on a "monkey-bars" apparatus during an after-school program operated by a church. Two adult supervisors were approximately 15 feet away from the child when they saw him fall. At least one other supervisor was within the same area, and two additional adult volunteers were assigned to supervise the group of 25 to 30 children that included the victim. A state appeals court dismissed the case, noting that no reasonable person could conclude that the victim’s injuries were due to the church’s negligence: “The victim was not engaged in any rough or inappropriate play prior to the accident and the church was not on notice of any horseplay or defective condition so as to warrant closer supervision or intervention. Accordingly, the degree of supervision afforded by the church was reasonable and adequate under the circumstances, and the child’s injury was not caused by a lack of supervision.”

Application. Churches are not “guarantors” of the safety of children on their premises. They have a duty of using reasonable care in the supervision of activities in which children are engaged. So long as they exercise reasonable care, they will not be negligent and therefore they will not be responsible for injuries occurring to children. In this case, the court concluded that the church had provided adequate supervision of the children involved in the after school program, and therefore it was not responsible for the victim’s injury. Berdecia v. City of New York, 735 N.Y.S.2d 554 (N.Y.A.D. 2001).

This content is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is sold with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. "From a Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations." Due to the nature of the U.S. legal system, laws and regulations constantly change. The editors encourage readers to carefully search the site for all content related to the topic of interest and consult qualified local counsel to verify the status of specific statutes, laws, regulations, and precedential court holdings.

ajax-loader-largecaret-downcloseHamburger Menuicon_amazonApple PodcastsBio Iconicon_cards_grid_caretChild Abuse Reporting Laws by State IconChurchSalary Iconicon_facebookGoogle Podcastsicon_instagramLegal Library IconLegal Library Iconicon_linkedinLock IconMegaphone IconOnline Learning IconPodcast IconRecent Legal Developments IconRecommended Reading IconRSS IconSubmiticon_select-arrowSpotify IconAlaska State MapAlabama State MapArkansas State MapArizona State MapCalifornia State MapColorado State MapConnecticut State MapWashington DC State MapDelaware State MapFederal MapFlorida State MapGeorgia State MapHawaii State MapIowa State MapIdaho State MapIllinois State MapIndiana State MapKansas State MapKentucky State MapLouisiana State MapMassachusetts State MapMaryland State MapMaine State MapMichigan State MapMinnesota State MapMissouri State MapMississippi State MapMontana State MapMulti State MapNorth Carolina State MapNorth Dakota State MapNebraska State MapNew Hampshire State MapNew Jersey State MapNew Mexico IconNevada State MapNew York State MapOhio State MapOklahoma State MapOregon State MapPennsylvania State MapRhode Island State MapSouth Carolina State MapSouth Dakota State MapTennessee State MapTexas State MapUtah State MapVirginia State MapVermont State MapWashington State MapWisconsin State MapWest Virginia State MapWyoming State IconShopping Cart IconTax Calendar Iconicon_twitteryoutubepauseplay