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Injuries at Dorm Parties: When Colleges Can Become Liable “Social Hosts”


Every year, too many college students are injured at campus parties that include alcohol, even though the students are well below the legal age limit. Whether an incident involves sexual assault or a severe accident, host liability law dictates that property owners can be held responsible for these incidents and subsequent injuries that occur on their property, including for trespassers in some circumstances. Social host liability also dictates that this can include criminal liability if an entity is aware that alcohol is being consumed by minors on their property. Ultimately, property owners must take reasonable measures to ensure that people who visit their property are safe, and that can include colleges; not only when it comes to dormitories, but also frat houses as well, for example, if they are located on college-owned property.

Take for example what recently happened to one college student who suffered a catastrophic brain injury after falling approximately 30 feet in a dormitory stairwell at a party that included underage drinking. Due to suffering from a severe traumatic brain injury that included hemorrhaging and a depressed skull fracture, this student is now unable to bathe, communicate, drink, eat, feed himself, or walk due to his injuries, and in general suffers from significantly decreased cognitive functions. According to his family, he will need a lifetime of care as a result of the incident.


His family has brought a lawsuit against the college, alleging that the school promotes a “quasi-fraternity atmosphere” that includes drinking alcohol, while also neglecting the infrastructure of the building where the party occurred, which is outdated, badly in need of repairs, and, ultimately, unsafe. Plaintiffs allege that the school was negligent by allowing for the party where the student fell to occur and for alcohol to be served to under age students, especially given that the rector assigned to monitor the residence hall was also missing at the time, even though they reportedly knew that a party was going to occur. As a result, the victim’s family claims that the college should have known that a dangerous situation was created, where serious injury or death was likely or probable.

If You Have Been Injured On Someone Else’s Property, Contact Rhode Island Injury Attorney Michael Kiselica

Providence personal injury attorney Michael J. Kiselica has brought litigation like this on behalf of injured victims and their families, where there are clear premises and social host liability consequences for a “host.” If you or a loved one have been injured on someone else’s property, speaking with an attorney is an important step in figuring out where to start in understanding your rights and options. When you reach out to our firm, we can provide you with the kind of assistance that helps clients feel like they are on the road to recovery. Contact our office today to find out more.


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