What Are Hazing Injuries And Who Is Legally Liable?

When you hear the word "hazing", you might think of college students doing dangerous acts as an initiation into a fraternity or sorority. However, hazing is not limited to just the college years. It can take place in high school, on sports teams, and the military and it is more serious than it is treated by mainstream media and Hollywood. Hazing is typically abusive and degrading behavior a person is forced to participate in to be accepted into a group. The activities required of the person usually puts them in danger of injury and even death.


While most young people may believe that hazing is not a big deal and it is all in fun and games, the simple truth is, hazing is dangerous. Many kids are injured each year from hazing rituals. The severity of the injury depends on the severity of the hazing. One common practice during a hazing initiation is whipping or paddling a pledge, which can leave bruises. However, sometimes these beatings can get out of control and lead to blunt force trauma. These types of injuries can cause organ failure, cracked skulls, and even death.

Another hazing injury is burns. These types of injuries are usually a result of branding, shocking or putting out lit cigarettes on the pledge's skin.

These are only the tip of the iceberg for possible injuries incurred through hazing. Others possible injuries are dehydration from being left out in the elements, alcohol poisoning, water intoxication from being forced to drink copious amounts of water, and sexual assault.

Who is Liable?

If you or your child has been hurt during a hazing incident, you have the legal right to sue for medical costs, pain and suffering, and lost wages. Sometimes the actual school or university is protected from hazing lawsuits, but the club or organization within the school is not. For example, if a pledge receives life-threatening injuries by a small portion of a fraternity, then the people who were directly responsible for the injury can be held liable as well as the entire house. Also, anyone who watched the incident and did not intervene can also be held liable. This is considered a type of negligence and the charges will vary in severity from a misdemeanor to criminal charges, depending on the situation. 

Over the years many anti-hazing laws have been passed in an effort to keep people safe. Unfortunately, hazing still continues. If you or anyone you know has been injured during a hazing incident, you should contact a lawyer. On the other hand, if you have been charged because you were negligent during a hazing initiation, then contact a criminal defense attorney.