Hazing has varied consequences as it breaks discipline in the school, results in personal injury lawsuits, and criminal charges and a majority of people associate this crime with sororities, and fraternities with new members that often go through dangerous rituals such as sleep deprivation, drinking contests, kidnapping or physical and sexual assault. Such incidents often cause humiliation to people, and it is a common incident taking place in schools and colleges between the sports teams and other groups.

Under the policies of hazing in the educational institutions, the students may face disciplinary action when they participate in the hazing activities. However, they may also face criminal charges depending on the severity of the activity and place of its occurrence. For the victims who are hurt during the hazing activities, they can sue the schools, organisations and individuals who have a responsibility to prevent hazing. However, it is essential to hire the services of the hazing injury attorneys to know how to go about suing the people responsible for the acts.

Hazing and crime

A majority of states have laws that categorise hazing as a crime and typically it is a wrongdoing when the act of hazing poses the risk of injury. However, the definitions may vary from one state to another. When a victim of hazing suffers from any bodily injury or emotional distress as a result of the acts, they have the right to sue their tormentors whether an individual or organisation or anyone who should have known about such incidents taking place in certain premises. Try to note the following.

In some states hazing is termed as a crime only when it causes injuries and in the rest it turns into a severe crime more than a misdemeanour when the victim suffers from injuries and enhances the penalties of the defendants.
In other states, hazing includes those activities that cause harm to the mental health of the victim. The defendants facing false charges of hazing can consult with a reputed hazing defense lawyer to overcome the false allegations.

In a few states that are without laws against hazing, the students participating in such activities that result in violence can face more severe criminal charges such as assault and battery.

When to sue

Some of the states that consider hazing as illegal allow the victims to file civil lawsuits to seek compensation for the damages and other injuries. Even when laws do not allow the victim to sue specifically, the general rules of wrongful death or personal injury can apply when the activities of hazing cause major injuries or turn fatal. The person filing a lawsuit against hazing needs to prove the following.

  • The defendant did not fulfil the responsibility and was involved in negligent acts.
  • The cause of negligence must hurt the victim.
  • The person or the organisation against which the case is being pursued must have owed duty or care towards the victim.

It can be challenging to collect substantial damages from the individuals whether students, fraternity officers, or faculty members, so the victims prefer to sue the organisations or institutions that are capable of paying high damages or settlements that the court awards to the victims. When it comes to calculating the success of these lawsuits, it largely depends on the ways in which the courts are going to view specific circumstances related to the case such as the duty of care that the organisation or the institution owed to the students. Action can also be taken against those officials who were aware of the hazing activities or the wrongdoings, but failed to take the desired steps to prevent them.

Often, the courts find that the universities are negligent as they fail to enforce the right steps against hazing when they are aware or should have been aware that the fraternities involved in the acts violate the rules. Apart from this, the national fraternity organisations are often held responsible for hazing activities carried out in local chapters if they know about hazing previously, and their measures to prevent such activities do not work, or if they have a legal relationship that enable the authorities to act on behalf of the national organisation.

Assumption of risk

In various circumstances, the courts may have thrown out the lawsuits that the hazing victims file when they assume the risk of hazing and participate in the activities deliberately that they know can be dangerous. In the other instance, the courts also rule out such cases when the victims do not understand the consequences of participation fully or they may not have participated in the act completely.

Things to remember

Most students participate in hazing out of peer pressure or the desire to belong and think it to be the price of joining a football team, fraternity, or any other group on the campus. The people accused of hazing often claim that they should not be termed guilty of crime as the victim may have participated in the activity out of willingness although such arguments are proved baseless in the criminal cases. Just as people consult lawyers for sexual harassment in the workplace, the people facing criminal charges for involvement in hazing must also speak to the legal practitioners to know how the law applies in their states.

The people accused of hazing can also consult with the defense attorneys to know what the possible defences are going to be with them during the process of trial. Communicating with a personal injury lawyer may also come to help when victims succumb to injuries during hazing activities.

Author's Bio: 

James Thomes is a professional content writer who writes blogs and articles of different niches. He is writing creative post for last 15 years. He works in a reputed company. He has knowledge in various fields so his aim is to educate people mostly students through his articles.