The New Haven area is not short on colleges. According to at least one list, there are more than two dozen of them within 30 miles of the city, including Yale. Post-secondary education is a big part of growing up. The focus is supposed to be on learning, but it would be naïve to say that finding fun and blowing off steam isn’t also a big part of the experience.
Most college students are adults under the law. That does not mean they behave as they should. Schools have an obligation not only to the education of their enrollees, but also to their safety. And when they fail in that second duty, accountability for damages suffered may be justifiable through a personal injury claim.
What schools may be liable for
Two of the most reported on issues of college life these days are sexual assaults and fraternity hazing. In cases of the first sort, the issue that victims or their families might wish to examine is whether the circumstances of the assault resulted from inadequate security on the campus. If that can be proven, an injury claim might be warranted. If the attack occurred in a nearby commercial area and inept security at that site is clear, a premises liability claim might be possible.
Hazing as part of fraternity initiation has long been tolerated – dismissed with the excuse that boys will be boys. However, attitudes have changed. Most schools have officially denounced such practices, even though we still see instances of tragedy.
For example, there is the case out of Pennsylvania in which 11 members of a now-closed Greek house are facing criminal charges for the hazing death one year ago of a 19-year-old pledge. According to reports, the young man died after consuming dangerous amounts of alcohol during initiation. He died the morning after the “fun,” having suffered severe head and internal organ injuries. His family is reportedly suing the fraternity members, the fraternity and the school.
No one can predict the outcome of a given case. For many, the thought of taking action through civil court is difficult to contemplate. Sometimes, however, such action is the most thorough means of holding responsible parties accountable. That is why in every case, consulting an experienced attorney is considered wise.