Wrongful Death Lawyer
Hazing is a specific type of bullying that takes place in an institutional setting, such as a sports team, fraternity, military or other social group. The central concept behind hazing is not all bad. Essentially, group bonding and team dynamic can occur through the adverse consequences of a hazing routine. However, hazing can quickly cross the line, leading to serious injury or wrongful death. Following is a discussion about the legal aspects of hazing.
Just like other types of bullying, awareness about the ill effects of hazing has been in the news for several years. As a result, high schools, colleges and universities have established rules preventing any hazing from taking place, whether affiliated with membership on a football team or pledging to a fraternity. Nonetheless, teammates and fraternity members continue to haze, oftentimes in ways that are hidden from public view or do not rise to the level of formal hazing. For instance, binge drinking in Greek life can lead to severe alcohol poisoning and death by intoxication. While a pledge may not be required to drink, the culture of drinking and drinking games that lead to ingestion of toxic levels of alcohol by individuals who are not experienced with alcohol use can have devastating consequences.
Likewise, in team sports, hazing may occur as a result of the actions of a few teammates, outside of the purview of the coaching staff. For example, a former college football player recently filed suit alleging that he was sexually harassed and hazed by teammates in a harmful manner.
Like other bullying cases, a claim for harassment, discrimination or hazing must be based on sound evidence. The best evidence is written documentation of the acts of bullying, complaints being made to coaches, parents, or school administrators, and documentation of injuries. Oftentimes such documentation does not exist. These cases can prove difficult to litigate. It is recommended that acts of hazing be reported in writing as soon as they occur, either by letter or email, so a paper trail exists. Likewise, when hazing involves physical or emotional harm, it is important to document these damages by reporting them to an independent physician or psychologist. The caregivers should chart both the onset of the injuries and the source, which can be vital documentation in a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit.
Laws vary by state. Some states have enacted specific anti-hazing statutes that set forth the elements of the claim. In other instances, the litigation will include claims for assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress, discrimination or sexual harassment. Again, it is important to consult a professional like a wrongful death lawyer in Cleveland, OH or the team at Mishkind Kulwicki Law Co., L.P.A.