According to the Crime Awareness and Campus Security Act of 1990, colleges and universities are required to keep campuses safe for students, staff, and visitors. However, crime activity still happens on campuses across the country on a regular basis. Common crimes that happen on college and university campuses include assaults, alcohol crimes, thefts, sexual assaults, and drug possession.

Who Is Liable for Campus Crimes?

Who may be held liable for a criminal act that occurs on a campus depends on the circumstances surrounding the criminal act. One or more different parties can be held liable for any injuries a plaintiff may suffer from as a result of criminal activity on a campus, including:

  • Students
  • School visitors
  • The college or university

Can I Sue a Private University or College?

Yes. A plaintiff can file a personal injury lawsuit against a private university or college. Private postsecondary institutions are viewed as private corporations. Thus, they can sue and be sued as independent entities.

Can I Sue a Public University or College for My Injuries?

It depends. You may be able to sue a public or semi-public university or college, unless the state legislature forbids the public or semi-public college or university from being sued as a government entity.

What Must I Show to Prove That the College or University Is Liable?

Provided that the postsecondary institution is not immune from personal injury lawsuits, it cannot be held liable for the plaintiff’s injuries that were incurred on campus until the plaintiff proves that the school was negligent in failing to keep the campus safe.

What Is Negligence?

Negligence is the failure to use reasonable care that an ordinary individual would in similar or same situations. A plaintiff suing a private or public college or university for negligence must prove:

  • Duty: The college or university owed the plaintiff a duty to keep the campus safe 
  • Breach of Duty: The defendant breached its duty to keep the campus safe
  • Causation: The defendant’s breach of duty was the actual and proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injury
  • Damages: The plaintiff suffered damages because of the defendant’s negligence

Do I Need to Hire a Lawyer for a Campus Safety Lawsuit?

Yes. If you want to sue a private or public postsecondary institution for your injuries, contact a personal injury lawyer. An attorney will explain your rights in the jurisdiction that the school is located in and file a complaint on your behalf.