During the month of January, many students choose to study abroad. Whether in another country or simply in another state, studying abroad is often a time of self-discovery, once-in-a-lifetime journeys, and expanded horizons. These trips prove to be immensely popular, as some statistics claim over a quarter million students travel for study abroad every year.
However, along with the benefits of international or domestic travel come certain risks, and unfortunately, some students are injured while far from home. When this happens, both the student and their guardians may be surprised who’s responsible for the medical bills.
Universities’ Duty of Care
Though their students may not be on school premises, the university remains responsible for their well-being while abroad. This includes making students aware of and protecting them from, among lesser risks:
- Sexual misconduct
Depending on the study abroad program students participate in and their host school’s insurance policy, the university may be equipped to handle claims and provide swift coverage for victims.
However, at schools where certain coverage is waived, or students are improperly prepared for travel risks, the school may be guilty of negligence.
Study Abroad Liability Scenarios
When studying in a foreign country, it’s easy to exaggerate the risks to students, especially those who don’t understand the native language. In many experiences, studying abroad poses no health threats or trauma, but knowing the possibilities can help protect students and make them aware of what policies their school should adopt.
- Ignoring Sound School Policies: In these cases, the school institutes policies that would protect students in the correct way, but supervisors in charge of the study abroad program ignore them, causing harm to a student.
- Negligently Supervising Students: Study abroad directors or other supervisors fail to take care of their students. For example, this could be a trip leader who fails to make arrangements for a student who falls ill and must remain in a foreign hospital while the rest of the group returns to their dormitories.
- Inappropriate Sexual Behavior: Both study abroad staff members and hosts are restricted by Title IX and other national sexual harassment policies. Failing to execute these policies or acting in defiance of them may make the school liable in a lawsuit.
- Inappropriate Medical Care: University staff members who act in a healthcare capacity may be found guilty of negligence if they offer unsound medical advice and a student’s health worsens as a result.
These scenarios highlight the importance of preparing students well, hiring trained and vetted staff members, and finding suitable insurance policies to protect students while they study in foreign countries. Without all three of these ingredients, students may be able to hold their university accountable for the injury or trauma they experienced while abroad.
Talk to an Indiana Personal Injury Attorney
If you were injured while studying abroad in Indiana, the university may be liable for paying some of your medical bills. When schools or their staff members act negligently and cause harm to students, you can file a personal injury claim to get the compensation you need for medical bills and other losses.
But this is a complicated and often sensitive topic; only Indiana personal injury lawyers know enough about state laws and Indiana public and private schools to tell you whether you have a valid case or not. It’s easy to get an attorney’s opinion, though: Start a free conversation with the personal injury attorneys at Hensley Legal Group by calling us or contacting us online.