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Victim of A Crime

Can a Florida College or University be Legally Liable to a Victim of Crime on Campus

Can a Florida College or University be Legally Liable to a Victim of Crime on Campus

Most seriously injured crime victims on Florida college and university campuses are injured during the commission of assault and battery, rape, or other sex crimes. Crime victims may be students, faculty, employees, or visitors. Regardless, violent college campus crimes are on the rise because criminal predators find college campuses and university environments excellent targets.

Under Florida law, the college or university can be held responsible for damages to the victim if evidence shows the college or university failed to exercise reasonable care in protecting people from harm by a third party, the attacker. Sovereign immunity, a legal barrier to suing certain governmental entities, does not apply to Florida colleges and universities.

Typically, Florida statutes and Florida courts will hold the school legally responsible for the harm if there was inadequate security and the school failed to take reasonable steps to protect people from known risks or dangers that are reasonably expected in the area. This is especially true if there have been a number of assaults in an area and the school fails to increase security until the criminal is caught. If the assaults occurred in a parking lot, it is reasonable to expect adequate lighting to be provided by the school.

Currently, the only source for standardized campus crime statistics is the U.S. Department of Education’s Campus Safety and Security Data Analysis Cutting Tool. Using that tool, you can look at each college’s last three years of crime statistics the schools are annually required to submit to the U.S. government under the Clery Act.

In May 2014, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights released a list of 55 “higher education institutions under investigation for possible violations of federal law over the handling of sexual violence and harassment complaints.” The only Florida school included in that report was Florida State University in Tallahassee.

If you or a loved one is a crime victim as a result of being hurt on a Florida college or university campus, contact the Law Office of Laurie D. Mitchell, PA. We can help. Call 352-371-9828