Is it possible for our church to become legally liable if we pay someone to mow the church yard and they either injure themselves or someone else?
It certainly is possible for a church to be held liable for the acts of individuals that are hired to do work on its behalf. A hired worker might be considered to be either an employee of the church, or an independent contractor. If the individual is considered to be employed by the church, then the church will generally assume greater responsibility for injuries both to the worker and to other people who are injured in connection with the worker's activity on your property.
Here are some points for the church to consider:
1) Will the worker will be considered to be an employee? If so, the worker will likely be eligible to receive workers' compensation benefits. It will also be more likely that the church will be held liable for the worker's actions if a bystander should be injured. In the event that the worker suffered an injury while working at the church, the law will consider several factors in determining whether the individual was an employee or an independent contractor. The presence of a contract between the church and the worker, even if the contract characterizes the worker as an independent contractor, will not necessarily mean that the worker will be found to be an independent contractor. Some of the key criteria that courts look at to decide whether a worker is an independent contractor or an employee include whether the individual: