If my daughter was at college and was wading in an on-campus fountain, which is condoned by the school, and injured herself is the school to be liable for her related expenses?

She stepped on a broken drain and wound up in the emergency room and received 33 stitches. She also missed a week of work, which is a hardship for her. Is it reasonable of us to expect the university to be liable for the costs associated with this incident?

Asked on November 2, 2015 under Personal Injury, Florida


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Even if the university "condones" the behavior, it was still likely negligent on your daughter's part to wade barefoot in a fountain, since there could be any number of things in there (rocks; broken bottles; etc.) that would injure her. The fact that it is negligent to have done this will at the minimum reduce what she might otherwise have been able to recover, since a plaintiff's (the person suing) own negligence proportionately reduces what she can recover. In addition, she could be viewed as having "assumed" (or accepted) the risk of injury by wading in a fountain, and this, too, can reduce or eliminate what she could recover. For these reasons, your daughter is unlikely to recover the full value of her injuries, and it's debatable whether it would be worth the cost and trouble of a lawsuit. That's not to say that she should not ask for compensation, since the school may elect to pay something; but if they refuse to pay, or don't want to pay as much as she or you want, you should think carefully about whether it's worth suing over an activity which, condoned or not, has certain risks and which your daughter voluntarily did.

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