When One Bad Idea Costs You Big

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Dec 01, 2022 | 0 Comments

You probably didn't mean to, but one thing led to another and you caused a fire, flood, or other damage in your university dorm. Now, on top of the embarrassment and negative attention you received on campus, you're in a lot of trouble with your school and wondering if you'll be held financially responsible or could face disciplinary actions.

Accidental or Intentional

Much of what will happen to you will likely hinge on whether the damage was the result of an accident or was caused by an intentional act. As you might imagine, you'll likely face tougher penalties if you are found to have intentionally caused the damage. In fact, if it is determined that you intentionally damaged university property, you could even be held criminally liable. Three University of Tennessee students were charged with criminal vandalism after flooding their dormitory.

Accidental or intentional, you certainly aren't the first college student to do it. In fact, U.S. fire departments respond to approximately 3,840 structure fires in dormitories, fraternities, and sororities each year.

Financial Responsibility

But, even if the damage was accidental, you could still be held liable financially. Most colleges and universities have policies laid out in their residential handbooks that state that damages caused by abuse or misuse of housing facilities and equipment will be billed to the individual responsible.

Universities expect some wear and tear and typically charge fees sufficient to cover normal damages. But, when a student engages in activities that go beyond normal life, the school may choose to make that student pay – if not through disciplinary measures than with a steep bill.

It's imperative that you go into these discussions with advice from someone who understands the possible actions your college could take against you and can help you protect your interests.

What Happens When Dorms Get Damaged?

At the University of Indiana, when damage occurs in a residence hall, the school will attempt to find out who is responsible for the damage. If they are not able to identify anyone, everyone living on that floor, wing, or building could be forced to pay for the damages.

Anyone who is ordered to pay for the damages is able to file an appeal in writing to the Office of Housing and Residence Life within 30 days of the billing date. If the student does not appeal or if the appeal is not granted, the charges will be posted on the student's Bursar account and the student may be unable to register for classes or graduate until the charges have been paid.

Throughout this process, you are allowed to receive advice from an attorney. As the outcome could be expensive and could impact your future, you need to be prepared.

Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm have successfully defended students all over the nation. We can help you resolve your situation and get your life back on track. Let us help you. Call us today at 888-535-3686 or contact us online.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients nationwide. Attorney Lento and his team represent students and others in disciplinary cases and various other proceedings at colleges and universities across the United States. Attorney Lento has helped countless students, professors, and others in academia at more than a thousand colleges and universities across the United States, and when necessary, he and his team have sought justice on behalf of clients in courts across the nation. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide, and he can help you or your student address any school-related issue or concern anywhere in the United States.


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