Court Finds Church Does Not Have Duty to Assist Parishioners from Parking Lot into Church

In all Washington, D.C. premises liability cases, one of the key issues that must be resolved is whether the defendant landowner violated a duty of care that it owed to the plaintiff. As a general rule, a duty of care exists any time someone enters another party’s land with the landowner’s permission. The question then often becomes whether the defendant knew about the hazard that caused the plaintiff’s injuries.

CrosswalkIn some situations, a plaintiff may bring a premises liability lawsuit against a landowner for injuries that did not occur on that party’s property. The general rule in these cases is that there is not a duty to protect someone once they leave – or before they enter – a landowner’s property. However, if a plaintiff is able to establish that the landowner, through their conduct, assumed a duty of care, a plaintiff may be able to proceed with their lawsuit.

A recent case discusses the later situation in the context of an accident that occurred while a parishioner was crossing the street from an off-site church parking lot.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a member of the defendant church. One day, the plaintiff drove to the church to attend an evening service. When he arrived, the church’s parking lot was full, and a volunteer parking attendant directed the plaintiff across the street.

The plaintiff drove to the off-site parking lot and parked his car. While there were attendants at the nearest intersection to assist parishioners in crossing the street, no one informed the plaintiff of this fact, and he attempted to cross the street mid-block. As the plaintiff attempted to cross, he was struck by another motorist and seriously injured.

The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the church, arguing that it was negligent in failing to provide assistance to him while crossing the street. The church argued that the injury occurred on public property, and it did not assume a duty of care by simply maintaining an off-site parking lot.

The court agreed with the church, finding that in this situation, the church did not assume a duty of care that was owed to the plaintiff. The court began its analysis with the general rule that a landowner generally does not have a duty to protect others from hazards that are not located on their property. Here, the court held, the church did not assume a duty of care by simply maintaining the parking lot. The church noted that, had there been other evidence presented indicating that the church somehow increased the danger in crossing the road, the analysis may have turned out differently.

Have You Been Injured in a Washington, D.C. Slip and Fall Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured while on the property of another party, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a Washington, D.C. premises liability lawsuit. The dedicated Washington, D.C. personal injury and wrongful death attorneys at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC have extensive experience representing victims in a wide range of personal injury lawsuits. Call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation with an attorney today.

More Blog Posts:

Plaintiff’s Premises Liability Case Dismissed for Failure to Establish the Defendant Landowner Knew of the Hazard that Caused Her Fall, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, November 23, 2017

Medical Malpractice Plaintiff’s Case Dismissed for Lack of Expert Testimony, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, November 9, 2017

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