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Bronx Personal Injury & Real Estate Blog

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Lawsuits and Hazing

Q: Is a college liable for fraternity hazing deaths or injuries?

Sending a child off to college is a source of both great pride and a bit of fear for many parents – especially if the child is living on campus in a distant state.

In addition to the usual worries about whether the child will make friends, whether the school is the right “fit”, and whether they can handle the course load academically, parents often worry if their child is safe at school. Colleges are held to high standards when it comes to protecting the students entrusted to their care. Despite this, some college students will find themselves victims of the negligent, reckless, or intentional actions of another in a personal injury lawsuit.

Students are sometimes injured in dormitories and elsewhere on campus through slip trip and fall accidents. This happens when slippery steps, improper lighting, broken sidewalks, uncleared snow and other unsafe conditions on the premises cause or contribute to a serious personal injury to the student. A premises liability lawsuit can arise when someone is seriously injured due to the college failing to maintain its property in a safe condition for those entering upon it.

Who can be sued after a hazing death?

What many parents fear most are the stories that often make the national news – hazing incidents. It seems every semester a student is seriously injured or killed while pledging a fraternity or sorority. Sometimes, the incidents occur on campus and other times off-campus. What often follows is a personal injury lawsuit or wrongful death lawsuit against the college and fraternity, and sometimes other parties, depending on the state’s laws and the circumstances of each case.

To prevail in a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit the victim (or their estate or closest surviving family members) must generally prove they suffered a serious personal injury (or died) as a result of the negligent, reckless, or intentional actions or inactions of another person or entity. If liability can be established, compensatory damages may be awarded. Sometimes, in particularly egregious cases, punitive damages may also be awarded to deter similar behavior in the future.

Recently, Ohio University reportedly took the unusual step of “indefinitely suspending” all 15 campus fraternities amid accusations of “widespread hazing” at seven of them. This came on the heels of the expulsion of a campus fraternity last spring for alleged hazing which parents in a pending wrongful death lawsuit claim was responsible for their freshman son’s death last fall. The suit reportedly alleges the boy was “plied by several of his fraternity brothers with nitrous oxide canisters – also known as “whippets”– before he died of asphyxiation”. The fraternity reportedly denied the allegations against it, claiming the student was “not actually a pledge at the time of his death”.

Contact the Law Office of Ryan S. Goldstein for a Free Consultation

If you or a loved one has been injured, or a loved one has been killed, in a hazing or other accident at college, the Law Office of Ryan S. Goldstein can help maximize the compensation to which you may be entitled. While it can’t undo the accident, taking legal action may lessen the financial burden it has caused, so you can focus on healing. Contact us today for a free consultation.

From our office in the Bronx, New York, we represent accident victims and their families throughout New York City and New York State, as well as those injured while visiting New York.


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