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What is hazing?
Hazing refers to any group ritual or activity that involves harassing or abusing a new group member. Although it is most often used as part of an initiation process for new members, hazing is also commonly used to “discipline” group members for various reasons. Hazing is frequently practice in many academic organizations, such as fraternities, sororities and sports teams (both high school and college).
Hazing has also been a long-standing tradition within military groups and professional sports organizations. Many people consider hazing an organized form of bullying – one that is often ignored by school and organization officials, despite the fact that it routinely causes serious personal injury and wrongful death.
Are there laws against hazing?
The growing number of hazing cases involving personal injury or death have started to change the way society views this common practice. At this point in time, 43 states have enacted statutes that outlaw hazing and hazing-related actions. The exceptions are Hawaii, Alaska, New Mexico, Montana, South Dakota, Michigan and Wyoming.
Each state’s definition of hazing varies slightly; some of them specifically refer to hazing as an initiation process, while other states offer a broader definition. In most cases, states define hazing as any action that endangers the physical health of a student, contending that “without bodily harm, there is no hazing.”
Who is liable in a hazing injury case?
If hazing results in any kind of bodily harm to an individual, multiple people may be held responsible. Depending on the specifics of the case, you may be able to pursue compensation from:
- The leader(s) of the group
- The group members who actually inflicted the injury
- The school officials who knew about the group’s culture of hazing, and took no action
Our experienced hazing injury attorneys at The Chestnut Firm will perform a complete investigation into your hazing accident to determine who is liable for your injuries (or your loved one’s death).
If you have further questions about hazing claims, please contact The Chestnut Firm today to schedule a free case evaluation. We represent hazing victims nationwide, with offices in Jacksonville, Gainesville and Miami, Fla.; Charlotte, N.C.; and Atlanta, Ga.