Many fraternities and athletic teams employ hazing as a form of initiation or social bonding. Even sororities have gotten in on the act, usually by having their new members perform embarrassing acts. According to one study, about 55% of students involved in a sport, club, or organization in college will experience hazing.
Unfortunately, hazing can quickly get out of hand. Students can suffer assault or drug overdose. Some might also be sexually assaulted. If you have been hazed, or if you suspect your child has, then you might have legal remedies, potentially through a premises liability lawsuit.
Why Hazing is Dangerous
Traditionally, hazing was a “rite of passage” that consisted of embarrassing activities like singing songs on the quad, carrying an upperclassman’s books around campus, or other mildly discomfiting behavior.
In recent years, however, hazing has escalated and can include:
- Binge drinking
- Doing hard drugs
- Forced sexual contact
- Engaging in risky behavior, like scaling a wall or walking on a roof
Unsurprisingly, the news media is filled with reports of students suffering injury and sometimes even death while being hazed. For example, a South Floridian student was found at the bottom of a gorge after a night of binge drinking as part of a hazing ritual.
Legal Responsibility for Hazing
Victims and their families might be able to sue the following parties:
- Students. Any student who intentionally harms another is legally liable for the injuries they cause. For example, a student who sexually assaults your son or daughter can be sued for assault or battery. Other intentional torts include intentional infliction of emotional distress, invasion of privacy, and defamation.
- University. Universities owe a duty to prove a reasonably safe environment for anyone on the premises. If a student is attacked or injured, the university could be liable for negligent security.
- Fraternity/Sorority. These organizations exist independently of the university. However, they could be legally liable if they did not prevent hazing or if they condoned/encouraged it.
Not all defendants are the same. For example, a student who assaulted you might not have any money to pay compensation, even if you win a lawsuit. Some might be legally adults, so we cannot reach their parent’s assets.
Things are different when suing an organization like the university or a fraternity. These organizations should have insurance policies that can cover negligent accidents. If the university is public, however, you will need a lawyer who understands the rules that govern suing public entities.
Contact a Miami Premises Liability Attorney