What Should You Do if Your Child Was Injured Due To Hazing?

Parents worry about many things when they send their children to college. They may worry about whether their children will make good decisions and do school work. However, an increasing fear for many parents of college students is hazing. They fear their child will be the victim of college hazing in Florida.

Hazing is not limited to college campuses. Hazing also occurs in high school. Parents need to be aware that their children could be injured because of hazing both before and while they go to college.

Keep reading to learn what you should do if your child was injured due to hazing at one of the many Florida colleges or schools.

What Is Hazing on Florida College Campuses?

Hazing typically occurs when someone is attempting to join a group or maintain membership in a group. It involves activities that abuse, humiliate, degrade, or endanger the applicants, regardless of an applicant’s willingness to participate in the activities. However, college hazing can occur in any situation on campus. It is not limited to joining sororities or fraternities.

About 55% of college students report being hazed, but only 5% of those students called the practice hazing. By contrast, about 47% of high school students experience hazing, but a higher percentage (8%) called it hazing.

Hazing is often minimalized by calling the practice harmless pranks or antics. People justify and rationalize hazing as an important tradition or an effective means of bonding with a group.

Hazing can take many forms and often involves forcing someone to do something they would not ordinarily do. It also involves activities that could have dangerous consequences for the victim. Examples of college hazing include, but are not limited to:

  • Forcing a person to binge drink
  • Physically assaulting someone
  • Forcing a person to be “branded” by requiring them to get a tattoo using heat to scar someone
  • Placing someone in isolation for extended periods
  • Forcing someone to engage in sexual activities

The truth is that hazing is a dangerous practice that can cause serious physical and emotional injuries. In the worst cases, hazing results in wrongful deaths.

What Should You Do if Your Child Was Injured Due To Hazing on a Florida Campus?

If your child was injured due to hazing at a Florida school, it is essential to take steps to protect your child’s well-being and legal rights. First and foremost, it is crucial to seek medical treatment for your child’s injuries caused by hazing.

In addition to seeing a doctor for physical injuries, it is also wise to seek mental health treatment for your child’s emotional injuries. Hazing often causes severe psychological trauma, even when the hazing does not cause severe physical injuries. 

A child injured by hazing could experience long-term psychological conditions, including PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), chronic anxiety, and debilitating depressive disorders.

Hazing Is Illegal in Florida Under The Chad Meredith Act

Florida criminalizes hazing, so you can call the police to report hazing in Florida colleges and schools. The Chad Meredith Act makes hazing a first-degree misdemeanor if the hazing creates a substantial risk of death or physical injury. Hazing rises to a third-degree felony if it leads to serious bodily injury or death.

Obtaining the victim’s consent is not a defense to the criminal hazing charge. Nor is it a defense that the conduct or activity was not part of or sanctioned by an official organizational event or organization. The offender cannot claim that the activity was not required as a condition of membership as a defense.

A person can face several criminal penalties if convicted of hazing in Florida. A conviction for a third-degree felony hazing charge could include several years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines. A first-degree misdemeanor hazing offense could result in a fine of up to $1,000 and up to a year in county jail.

Filing a Lawsuit for Hazing

If your child was injured due to hazing in Florida, your child may have a legal claim against the college, school district, and other parties for economic and non-economic damages. Negligence and intentional torts are often grounds for hazing lawsuits, but there could be other grounds as well.

Suing a college or school for hazing is complex. There are special rules for suing government entities. Furthermore, state laws cap the damages for government tort claims unless the legislature grants your petition for higher limits.

Seeking legal advice from a hazing injury lawyer is the best step a parent can take if your child was injured due to hazing in Florida. An attorney will explain your child’s legal rights, the process of suing for hazing in Florida, and the evidence you will need to prove your child was injured due to hazing. Because Florida’s statute of limitations limits the time to file a hazing lawsuit, contact a local personal injury lawyer today for a free consultation.

Contact Our Ocala Personal Injury Law Firm in North Central Florida

If you need legal assistance, contact the Ocala personal injury lawyers at Allen Law Firm, P.A. at your nearest location to schedule a free consultation today.

We have three convenient locations in North Central Florida:

Allen Law Firm, P.A. – Ocala Office
112 S Pine Ave
Ocala, FL 34471
(352) 351-3258

Allen Law Firm, P.A. – Downtown Gainesville
621 W University Ave
Gainesville, FL 32601
(866) 928-6292

Allen Law Firm, P.A. – Gainesville office
2550 SW 76th St #150
Gainesville, FL 32608
(877) 255-3652