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January 21st, 2014

My son was hazed at college by his fraternity brothers. He was injured. Can he file a lawsuit against the school?

It depends. School hazing liability cases require analysis of the facts and circumstances to determine whether there is a valid case and who the potentially liable parties are. Parties liable in a school hazing incident often include:

  • schools,
  • fraternities,
  • sororities,
  • individual members who supply alcohol to underage members, and
  • bars/restaurants.

Fraternities and sororities can be liable for negligence in overseeing how members conducted authorized activities, such as rushing events, social events, etc. In addition, many college and university organizations like fraternities and sororities carry liability insurance. These policies often apply when members of the organization commit negligence which causes injury. Hazing activities which result in injury or death may be covered; therefore victims of hazing may be able to make claims under an organization’s liability insurance policy.

Related: Liability in School Hazing Cases

Members of a fraternity or sorority who are over the age of 21 and supply alcohol to underage members can also be held liable for supplying alcohol. Like with hazing activities which lead to injury, when members of a fraternity or sorority provide alcohol to underage members, the organization’s liability insurance may provide coverage. This means that an underage member who is supplied alcohol and is then injured may have a valid claim under the fraternity or sorority’s insurance policy.

In addition, bars and restaurants can also face liability for allowing underage drinking or otherwise serving alcohol to those already visibility intoxicated.

Also, depending on the laws of the state where the hazing incident occurred, government run schools such as state universities and colleges may be more difficult to hold liable. That is because of state laws known as sovereign immunity laws. In Pennsylvania, for example, state government entities such as state run schools are generally exempt from liability, except in certain, limited situations. Hazing is generally not covered under one of the exceptions. Such state laws which limit state government liability do not affect liability under federal law. Some state school hazing incidents may be able to be brought in federal court.

Resources: Stophazing.org

Hazing and School Liability Lawyers

If you or your child was the victim of hazing and you would like to discuss a potential civil case, please call 800-220-7600 and ask to speak to Guy D’Andrea. He is a former prosecutor who now brings civil claims on behalf of victims of crime, including victims of hazing in school settings.

**This website does not provide legal advice. Every case is unique and it is crucial to get a qualified, expert legal opinion prior to making any decisions about your case. See the full disclaimer at the bottom of this page.