November 12, 2018
The college class calendar keeps students busy with homework, extra-curriculars, and social lives for most of the four years that students typically attend universities across Indiana. As involved as some students are, they may even extend their residence through holidays, staying on campus through fall break, part of winter break, and maybe even spring break.
By doing this, students may find themselves in a legal bind, should they ever need to file a claim against the school for an accident that occurs during one of their waived breaks.
Personal Injury on College Campuses
In a typical college personal injury claim, an injured student gathers evidence, files a claim, and receives a settlement from their university for damages incurred due to negligence. Claims can arise from many factors, including poorly maintained walkways, improperly lit public areas, or other hazards that may result in injury or assault.
As it is, there are enough qualifications, specifications, and hurdles to get in the way of a successful settlement, but introducing school-sanctioned holidays makes the situation even more complicated.
How Holidays Affect Students’ Legal Standing
When the snow starts to fall, or the trees begin budding, schools sometimes designate a break in the academic and residential year for their students. During these breaks (and sometimes even federal holidays), colleges often mandate that students vacate their dormitories or campus-owned apartments.
This means the college may withhold its duty of care from students during school breaks. If on-campus residents breach their contract by remaining at school during breaks, the college will likely not be held liable for their injuries; in the language of premises liability, students were not invited onto the premises.
In order to have a valid claim, students typically must be able to prove they were both legally allowed to remain on campus during the break, and that their injury was caused by the college’s negligence.
Is the Victim Allowed to Be On Campus?
The university will make it clear to on-campus residents whether they are permitted to remain in their buildings during school holidays. However, in some cases, specific students are granted special permission to extend their residency for any number of reasons. For example, international students may be permitted to stay on campus, but students who live across the country may be expected to leave.
Injuries in these cases will need to be evaluated on an individual basis, as the terms of these special permissions vary widely from college to college. If you’re not allowed to be on campus, you may still have a claim — even trespassers are protected under the law from negligence, to a certain extent.
Was the Victim Injured Due To Negligence?
Few injuries that occur on Indiana’s university campuses every year are the direct result of the school’s negligence. Often, students are at least partially, if not wholly, responsible for their own reckless behavior.
For example, a student who decides to ice skate on a partially frozen fountain during winter break will likely not be able to receive damages from the university for their medical treatment. Even if they were allowed to be on campus during this time, the college cannot be responsible for such unexpected behavior.
Guidance from an Indiana Personal Injury Attorney
If you’ve been injured on a college campus, call Hensley Legal Group for a free conversation about your case. Our staff will help you figure out if you have a valid claim and help you through the process. Contact us online today to get started.