Fraternities have come under fire in recent years for a number of pledge deaths and injuries due to hazing. For the families and individuals impacted by deadly and dangerous hazing rituals, the aftermath can be traumatic, confusing, and devastating. Vanity Fair recently reported on the tragic death of a young pledge who suffered a fall during a hazing ritual. Videos in the house captured the last hours of the young man’s life and reveal that his fellow brothers failed to get him the medical attention he needed and deserved. Instead, the brothers appear intent on covering up the fact that they may have been responsible for the man’s injuries.
Despite the fact that fraternities and campuses claim that hazing does not take place, fraternities take measures to protect themselves legally. For example, national chapters often put in place strict guidelines about how alcohol is to be consumed during fraternity parties. If these policies aren’t followed (and they often are not), then the fraternity’s insurance won’t generally cover the individual chapter’s legal fees for personal injury lawsuits.
In order to sue a fraternity, families sometimes face a long civil battle against the school on which the fraternity was based. Suing a school can be a complex process, especially if it is a state school. If your child’s school is considered a government entity, for example, the school may be protected from legal action. The process of suing a government entity is different than suing a private one.
In some cases, schools may even look the other way when hazing takes place. According to one report in the Atlantic, when young men showed up at the school health center with what appeared to be hazing injuries, the school looked the other way when the young men refused to report the injuries. It appears that some college administrators may be well aware that hazing takes place. Furthermore, individuals who report incidents could face backlash from their “brothers.” Fraternity members may also be reluctant to report injuries that take place during hazing rituals because they fear repercussions.
Institutional structures seem to support a culture of silence that perpetuates hazing. Parents of students who have suffered personal injuries as a result of a hazing can also sue the individuals involved in the hazing ritual. However, it can be difficult to identify individuals’ actions during a hazing, especially if alcohol was involved. Brothers may be reluctant to testify against one another, making the discovery process particularly difficult.
In the case of a hazing death on Penn State’s campus, one brother tried to speak out to protect a man who had been seriously injured during the hazing. His pleas for help were ignored. The Atlantic reports that he, along with the family of the injured man, may be entitled to a six-figure settlement.
If you or a loved one has been personally injured due to a fraternity hazing or has been injured due to another person’s decision to drink and drive, or to act recklessly while drunk, you may be entitled to compensation under the law. The families of hazing victims have been fighting back to seek justice. It is important to hold colleges, campuses, and fraternities accountable when young people are injured due to reckless drinking and irresponsible hazing actions. Contact the Dallas, Texas personal injury lawyers at the Law Offices of Robert Gregg today to learn more about your options.