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Appellate Court Broadly Interprets Landowner’s Duty to Protect Visitors

Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued an opinion in the case of Vasilenko v. Grace Family Church. The case was brought by a parishioner against the church after the parishioner was seriously injured in a pedestrian accident when attempting to walk from a church parking lot to the church. The court determined that, although the injury in a premises liability lawsuit must normally arise on the property owner’s land to be successful, that isn’t always the case.

City StreetThe Facts of the Case

Grace Family Church was located on a busy five-lane road. Immediately next to the church was a parking lot. However, since the parking lot was small, it would often fill up. To accommodate the growing demand for parking spaces, the church contracted with a nearby business owner to use his parking lot as an overflow lot when the smaller main lot was full.

The church had volunteer parking attendants who would direct traffic from the main lot to the overflow low when the main lot was full. There were also parking attendants in the overflow lot, showing parishioners where they could park. Importantly, however, there were no attendants to help the parishioners cross the street to get to the church.

As noted above, the church was located on a five-lane road. The overflow lot was across that road. There were crosswalks on either side of the block, but since the church and the overflow lot were both mid-block, the quickest way to get from the lot to the church was to scramble across the street.

That is exactly what the plaintiff in this case did. He was directed to the overflow lot by volunteer parking attendants. Once there, he was directed to park in a specific spot. However, once he parked, there was no guidance on how to safely get back to the church. The plaintiff and two others attempted to make a run for it across the road, but the plaintiff was struck by a passing motorist.

The court explained that this was an unusual premises liability case, in that the injury did not occur on the defendant’s land. Indeed, the injury occurred on a public road, over which the defendant had no control. However, since the church should have known that people would have a difficult time crossing the road, it should have provided some assistance to the parishioners.

Have You Been Injured on the Land of Another Party?

If you or a loved one has recently been involved in any kind of South Florida auto accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. Keep in mind, however, that these cases can be won and lost on very technical details that may not seem important at first glance. That is why you need an experienced and dedicated attorney to help you through the process. Call 800-753-5529 today to set up a free consultation with a South Florida personal injury attorney.

More Blog Posts:

State Supreme Court Rules for Defendant in Boating Accident Case, Cecere Santana Injury Lawyers Blog, published July 21, 2016.

Topamax Birth Injury Case Results in $3 Million Verdict, Cecere Santana Injury Lawyers Blog, published June 9, 2016.

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