If our church has a large parking lot and customers from a business across the street use it all the time, what is our liability for a slip and fall?

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If our church has a large parking lot and customers from a business across the street use it all the time, what is our liability for a slip and fall?

This use has this has gone on for years. They have not been given express permission but it has been implied by use over time. Would it be mitigated by signage for others not to park there, even if we didn’t enforce it?

Asked on January 25, 2016 under Personal Injury, Illinois

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

If they park there and are injured due to any unsafe conditions in the parking lot--for example, a pot hole or other uneven surface someone trips on and injuries him/herself--you could be liable; or you could be liable if the parking lot is badly laid out or has bad signage, so that cars can't manuever safely and hit each other or pedestrians. You would increase your protection if you actively enforce no parking rules vs. anyone not there for your church, since then they would be trespassers, and you owe a lesser duty of care to trespassers then to people permitted to use the space, but you have to actively enforce the no parking/no trespassing rule--signs and prohibitions that are winked at and ignored will be ignored by the courts. (And even if you do this, if you have a parking lot, it still behooves you to keep it in good repair--after all, you don't want your own parishoners to be injured and sue you.)


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