Hazing Injuries From Fraternities
After recent deaths in 2016 at Texas A&M linked with hazing by a fraternity, many are curious about the potential consequences of hazing. While not all forms of hazing are inherently dangerous, many others such as binge drinking competitions and mud-pit wrestling can be fatal. In general, fraternities and sororities have tried to shirk responsibility when accidents happen, but there are laws in place that create civil liability for either negligently or recklessly allowing accidents to occur.
Holding Fraternities Accountable for Their Actions
Fraternities and sororities should not get a pass for allowing bad things to happen to students, and the law does not give them one. Instead, the law requires that fraternities proactively take responsibility for their actions, especially when alcohol is involved. When fraternity members provide alcohol to pledges and new members, they are acting as social hosts. Social hosts bear a level of civil liability for any actions that occur on their property that could harm guests. Allowing social guests to become too intoxicated and make bad decisions can create civil liability.
What Types of Harms are Fraternities Accountable for?
The scope of a fraternity or sorority’s duties to its social guests only goes so far. At some point, a guest will be asked to take responsibility for his or her own actions, but several types of harms can create civil liability.
- Alcohol Related Incidents and Drunk Driving: When a social host serves alcohol at a party, the host has a responsibility to ensure the safety of his or her guests. This liability can extend to drunk driving incidents, as well.
- Hazing-Type Offenses: Chapter 37 of the Texas education code defines hazing as brutality, harmful physical activity, unhealthy alcohol consumption, and intimidation. If a fraternity or sorority subjects its members to these types of activities, it could be subject to both criminal and civil fines.
- Sexual Assault: Victims of sexual assault that occurs on fraternity premises can also seek compensation from fraternities for their injuries.
The Applicability of Texas’s Dram Shop Laws
Texas law does shield certain social hosts and business operations from third-party liability resulting from certain alcohol-related incidents. However, these dram shop laws do not necessarily apply in the fraternity setting. In many cases, fraternities and sororities can be liable for the negligent or reckless acts of their members despite the existence of dram shop laws.
How to Seek Justice After a Fraternity or Sorority Hazing
Hazing is a fundamentally humiliating act that many college students are embarrassed to talk about at all, let alone accuse others of participating in. That said, the first step in seeking justice is coming forward and telling your story. Unless you come forward, no one will know what has happened.
Take Action Now: Contact a Houston Personal Injury Lawyer
To discuss your options with an experienced attorney, contact the skilled Houston personal injury lawyers with Michael P. Fleming and Associates 713-221-6800. Knowing the legal issues at stake, law firms skilled in college student representation can help get justice for you while meeting any other needs you may have such as protecting your privacy.