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Liability for Personal Injuries on Hudson Valley College Campuses

A bipartisan bill in the House of Representatives has put personal injuries on college campuses front and center as an important issue. Called the The College Operational Reporting of Emergencies Involving Teens and Young Adults Safety Act of 2022 (or COREY Safety Act for short), it’s a bill that would mandate colleges to publicly report any campus accidents that result in serious personal injuries or fatalities. Currently, we don’t have a comprehensive picture of how many injuries and fatalities occur on college campuses, making it difficult for the public to push for safety improvements.

The law is named after a University of Colorado at Boulder student named Corey Hausman, who died two weeks into his freshman year in a skateboarding accident. When looking for more information about similar accidents on campus, his family found that other students had died, but the incidents were not accounted for by the college because they were accidents, and not “instances of serious crime.”

According to a 2013 study in the Journal of College Student Psychotherapy, a small study of self-reporting colleges found that for student fatalities, the top causes were:

  • Accidental injuries (10.8 per 100,000 students)
  • Suicide (6.17 per 100,000)
  • Cancer (1.94 per 100,000)
  • Homicide (0.53 per 100,000)

What duty do New York State colleges have to students to provide a safe environment?

It is necessary for colleges to provide a safe environment for students, faculty, staff, and anyone else invited onto the property. Whether it’s a college campus that has mainly commuters, like SUNY Ulster or SUNY Dutchess, or a mix of commuting and on-campus housing, like Bard College, Marist College, Vassar College or SUNY New Paltz, colleges have a duty to keep people safe. 

If an accident occurs on property owned by the college, to someone who is permitted on campus, it is possible that the college had a duty to correct the hazardous condition that caused the accident. Some of the hazardous conditions that a college could remedy include:

  • Poor lighting
  • A lack of security or surveillance capabilities
  • Snow and ice buildup
  • Defective walkways and stairwells 
  • Malfunctioning elevators or escalators
  • Inadequate fire safety plans
  • Slippery floors with no warning

If safety issues on campus cannot be corrected, the college must at least warn all visitors of any dangerous conditions, using all available tools like signs, flyers, online announcements and texts. 

If these three conditions are met, then it’s possible that a student, faculty member, staffperson or other visitor could hold a college liable for a preventable injury or wrongful death that occured on campus. 

If you’ve been seriously injured on a college campus, schedule a free consultation with our personal injury law firm. Our personal injury law offices are conveniently located in Kingston, NY and Poughkeepsie, NY. Call 845-600-0000 today.