College Liability and Murder: Is the University Liable?

When a student goes to college, there is an expectation that he or she will be safe. College campuses are not exempt from violent crime. If you lost a loved one due to a violent crime while at university, you may want to ask the administration how it could have happened. Does the campus have a responsibility to their students?

It is not always a black and white issue. While colleges do assume liability, they may not be liable for murder. Here is what you need to know about murder on a college campus. 

The Gray Area of Liability

As a general rule, colleges are not responsible when a student or other member of the community commits a violent crime against one of its students. Before the 1960s, colleges assumed the role of a parent over students and could be held liable for crimes against students. However, in the 1960s, students wanted to be seen as independent adults. In exchange for independence, the college has less liability. Less liability does not mean no liability, however. Campuses are still expected to create a reasonably safe atmosphere.

The Duty to Protect Students

Even though colleges cannot predict violent crime, there are situations where a college had information that a reasonable person might take steps against. For instance, if there is a student on campus with a history of violence and he or she commits a crime that the school should have been aware of, then it might be negligence on behalf of the college.

Colleges need to have some form of security. If a college has poorly trained security guards or fails to act on a threat and a person is killed because of it, then the school may be liable for the person’s death. Negligence is still the foundation of wrongful death. If a school is careless about its security or the students allowed on campus, then they may have been able to prevent the crime.

If your loved one died at the hands of someone else while away at college, you can file a wrongful death lawsuit. Since these cases are never black and white, it helps to have a lawyer who can advise you on whether you have the foundation for a solid case. Most colleges likely have a legal team of their own, so a lawyer can help you prepare your case. To help take some of the burden off of you, set up a consultation with a lawyer, like a wrongful death lawyer from Kamper & Estrada, PLLC.