Lawsuits arising out of “Hazing”

Hazing incidents appear to be once again on the rise, as a wrongful death lawyer Cleveland, OH knows all too well. During the 1990s and early 2000s, hazing incidents were rare, as colleges and universities cracked down on the practice by closing noncompliant fraternities and sororities. As memories about past problems fade, illicit hazing ceremonies and practices have crept back into Greek life across the country.

“Hazing” refers to the initiation process by which probationary fraternity and sorority members become full-fledged members of the house to which they have pledged. Hazing can involve mundane tasks like cleaning up after a party or driving partygoers to and from events. Hazing can also involve silly but harmless pranks. But hazing can involve dangerous acts that lead to injury or death. 

Typically, wrongful deaths arising out of hazing activities are caused by binge drinking that results in alcohol poisoning, aspiration of stomach contents, or fatal injury. The risk of serious injury increases when students who are inexperienced with alcohol or underaged drinking are involved. Often, party games, goading and peer pressure escalate the risk in a setting where the goal is to make pledges severely intoxicated and even sick. Hazing is purportedly a bonding experience, but the dangers associated with alcohol-related hazing have led virtually every college and university in the United States to ban the practice. Nonetheless, it continues to happen and it seems to be on the rise.

When investigating an alcohol-related death on campus, a wrongful death lawyer in Cleveland, OH  will need to do a detailed factual investigation to determine if there are any culpable parties. The wrongful death lawyer in Cleveland, OH will want to know the following, at a minimum:

  • Was alcohol served at a fraternity- or sorority-sanctioned event?
  • Was the event university-sanctioned?
  • Were any security measures in place to prevent underage drinking?
  • Were any security measures in place to identify and care for intoxicated participants?
  • What details can be learned from the police report?
  • What details can be learned from the EMS report?
  • Was an incident or police report prepared by campus police?
  • Did fraternity or sorority members create an incident report or prepare witness statements?
  • What were family members told about events surrounding the death by house representatives?
  • Who are eyewitnesses?
  • Is there any video of the precipitating event?
  • Are there social media posts pertaining to the precipitating event?
  • Has the house been the subject of other disciplinary actions or prior police reports?
  • What do an autopsy and/or toxicology results show?

In addition to the foregoing, most states have enacted “dram shop” laws that hold establishments that serve alcohol, like campus bars and restaurants, accountable for overserving patrons. The wrongful death lawyer in Cleveland, OH will want to know detailed information about all alcohol consumed by the deceased individual and the source of that alcohol.

College is an exciting time for both parents and students. Students are vested with newfound independence that will ideally lead them to become productive members of society. However, along with newfound independence comes the risk of being taken advantage of in new social settings where a young person is trying to fit in and prove themselves. The premature death of any young adult is always a devastating loss for a family, but no less so when it results from senseless hazing.

For more information about wrongful death cases, contact the attorneys of Mishkind Kulwicki Law Co., L.P.A. today to schedule a consultation.

Benefits of Hiring a Wrongful Death Lawyer

If your loved one was killed due to someone else’s negligence, you may wonder if you should hire a wrongful death lawyer in Cleveland, OH or not. While you are not required to hire a lawyer to file a lawsuit, it is highly recommended. Wrongful death claims are quite complex and you don’t want to risk making a mistake. Here are some of the benefits of working with a reputable lawyer.

  • A Lawyer Knows the True Value of Your Claim: If you don’t have a legal background, you might not know the actual value of your wrongful death claim and allow the insurance company to undervalue it. An experienced lawyer, on the other hand, does know the actual value of your claim. He or she will assess several factors, including medical expenses, funeral costs and loss of income, before determining the appropriate value.
  • A Lawyer Can Reduce Stress: Grieving over the death of a loved one is difficult enough. You don’t need the added stress of dealing with a lawsuit. That is what your wrongful death lawyer is there for. He or she will handle the legwork, including filling out the paperwork, gathering evidence and talking to the insurance company. This allows you to grieve properly and spend time with your loved ones during this difficult time.
  • A Lawyer Can Offer Objectivity: Losing a loved one can cause you to feel a wide range of emotions, which may cloud your judgment. You might make poor decisions as a result, such as accepting a low settlement offer to get the process over with. That is another good reason to have a wrongful death lawyer in Cleveland, OH on your side. He or she will remain impartial and prevent you from making bad decisions that could jeopardize the case.
  • A Lawyer Isn’t Expensive: A common misconception people have about wrongful death lawyers is they are very expensive to hire. That’s why some people may shy away from hiring them, unfortunately. The truth is, however, that the majority of these lawyers work on a contingency fee. This means they take a percentage of your settlement. If you don’t win your case, you won’t owe your lawyer any money.
  • A Lawyer Can Take Your Case to Trial: The majority of wrongful death cases get settled out of court. However, if the insurance company isn’t willing to budge and offer a fair settlement, it makes sense to take the case to trial. An experienced wrongful death lawyer will know how to handle him or herself in front of a jury and present your care effectively.