When Would a College or University Be Liable for a Student’s Death?

If you have had a loved one pass away, you understand the heartache and grief that comes. It can be especially difficult if the person dies due to unusual circumstances, when the death was preventable or when someone else caused the death. If your family died while attending school, and the incident occurred on campus, you’ll seek answers from the institution and what authorities could have done. You should speak to an attorney and get some direction on whether it makes sense to pursue a wrongful death action. There are situations where a court might hold the college responsible.

Common Causes

First, it is helpful to understand some of the most common types of incidents that lead to campus or college-related deaths. Feeling intense pressure, stress and responsibility, students can develop feelings of anxiety or depression. These can eventually lead to suicide. Campus deaths can also be the result of murder, vehicular incidents or workplace-related deaths.

Insufficient Security

Many college campuses have their own police forces, while others rely on private security teams to keep students, staff and visitors safe. Some institutions may use a combination of these two. If the court determines that police and security failed to make the campus a safe place, the college could be held liable. If your family member dies because of insufficient security coverage or efforts, your lawyer may investigate whether the security team had enough personnel or whether it used correct and effective methods. If these elements were absent, the college could be held responsible.

Inadequate Resources

Many people who eventually take their own lives first cry out for help. An individual who commits suicide often first talks to a friend or talks to a doctor or counselor. A college student with emotional troubles may seek guidance on campus from professionals. If these are not available or prove to be incompetent, a court could hold the college liable.

Unsafe Environment

Colleges are responsible for making sure its students are safe—not only from criminal activity but from environmental dangers. Buildings, sidewalks, stairs and other structures should be up to code. Students who come into contact with dangerous materials should be warned and have the proper protective equipment. If the college fails to address these needs, students’ well-being could be at risk. If your loved one dies because of these oversights, you could be warranted to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the college.

You can have some measure of peace and closure in the aftermath of your family member’s death.  If you might have a wrongful death case, contact a wrongful death lawyer, like the office of John K. Zaid & Associates to discuss your case.