Montana State University

Office of Legal Counsel

Montana State University
211 Montana Hall
Bozeman, MT 59717

Tel: (406) 994-4570
Fax: (406) 994-1893

Legal Counsel:

Leslie C. Taylor
lesliet@montana.edu

FAQ -- Liability for Injuries

Can I be held personally liable for injuries that I may cause while I am on the job, even if I didn't mean to cause them?

Yes, everyone is responsible for their own negligence or other wrong-doing that causes injury to another's person or property. However, if those injuries occurred in the course and scope of your employment, i.e., while you were performing your job, you may be protected.

Do I need to purchase Liability Insurance?

Probably not. All employees are covered by the State's self insurance fund, so long as the injury was not caused intentionally and so long as the injury resulted from the performance of their job, i.e., the injury occurred in the course and scope of your employment. If you are a professional engaged in consulting services, you should purchase appropriate professional insurance to cover you while engaged in consulting.

What about legal representation?

The University will appoint an attorney to defend you in lawsuits against you for injuries and damages you are alleged to have caused while acting in the course and scope of your employment.

Are students covered by the state?

As a general rule, a student will not be covered by the provisions for defense of state employees or by the University's liability insurance, unless, at the time of the incident, the student was acting in the course and scope of his or her employment as an employee or agent of the University. Students who are being paid by the University for work which is of benefit to the University, either in an assistantship or in work-study, or some other regular employment capacity, will probably be treated as though they were state employees entitled to coverage. There are always exceptions to these rules, so please contact Legal Counsel if a question arises in this area.

What To Do If You Receive a Subpoena, a Summons and Complaint, Or Are Called By An Attorney About University-Related Business.

The Office of Legal Counsel provides legal representation for the University and all employees when they are conducting University business. If you receive legal documents, such as a subpoena or a summons, you should contact your Legal Counsel as soon as possible because there are usually deadlines associated with these documents that have legal consequences. Any legal document should be reviewed by a University lawyer before any response is made. Similarly, if you get called or visited by an outside attorney regarding matters of University business, you should refer him/her to Legal Counsel before you should talk to him/her about matters related to University business. Legal Counsel will know what laws and regulations apply and can advise you regarding matters that may involve pending litigation or interpretation of law, regulations or policy. Legal Counsel may handle all the contacts with the outside attorney from the her office if appropriate.

I have a student who possibly cheated on a mid-term exam. How should I address this situation?

Begin by reviewing the Student Academic Integrity Policy. This policy defines academic integrity and provides guidelines for evaluating this type of concern.

May I use the student's social security number to post grades?

The Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), also known as "the Buckley Amendment," specifically states that social security numbers are considered to be "personally identifiable information" that may not be released without written consent from the student. 34 C.F.R. 99.3 The consent a student gives to disclose the number to you is not the same as consent for you to disclose it to others.

"Instructors and others who post grades should use a system that ensures FERPA requirements are met. This can be accomplished by using code words or randomly assigned numbers that only the instructor and individual student know. The order of posting should not be alphabetical."

What are the procedures for obtaining permission to serve alcohol on campus?

The university rules regarding the events which will have alcoholic beverage service on campus are found at Section 890 of the Facilities Use Manual

What is Nepotism?