Personal Injuries Caused by Hazing
A 20-year-old Florida State University student ended up in the hospital because of a fraternity hazing ritual called “Scumbag of the Week.” The tradition began years ago at Alpha Epsilon Pi’s Phi Tau Florida State chapter. A personal injury lawsuit filed against the fraternity alleges that the frat brother who received the most votes for “Scumbag of the Week” had to stand up in front of the fraternity and allow a brother to slap him in the face.
When Nicholas Mauricio received this dubious honor, the chapter allowed an “alumnus in bad standing” — someone who wasn’t enrolled at Florida State — to do the slapping. But Oliver Walker hit Mauricio “harder than he should have and harder than he intended.” Mauricio fell down and was knocked unconscious. He suffered serious brain damage and spent five days in the hospital’s neurological intensive care unit. Ongoing injuries include panic attacks, migraines and memory problems.
Mauricio sued Alpha Epsilon Pi International for negligence, alleging that leadership knew about but failed to stop the “Scumbag of the Week” ritual.
College Hazing Practices
Many college fraternities and sororities have a reputation for hazing practices that are often dangerous — and illegal. Common examples of hazing practices include sleep deprivation, excess alcohol consumption, humiliation, isolation, and sex acts. In some cases the hazers can be criminally prosecuted. But whether hazing rises to the level of negligence depends on the particular case.
In Florida, defendants are only found negligent if:
- They owed the plaintiff a duty of care
- They breached that duty of care, and
- The breach in care caused the plaintiff’s injuries.
In Mauricio’s case, Alpha Epsilon Pi International is arguably responsible for unsafe policies and practices among the individual chapters, especially policies and practices that they know about. If Mauricio establishes the duty of care then he might be able to prove that Alpha Epsilon Pi breached that duty and caused his injuries.
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Florida
The first thing you should do after an accident is to seek medical attention. Then contact an experienced attorney about filing a personal injury lawsuit.
The deadline, or statute of limitations, for filing a personal injury lawsuit in Florida is four years from the date of the injury. (If the victim dies from the injuries, certain family members may file a wrongful death lawsuit. In that case the deadline is two years from the date of the death.)
Florida is a comparative fault state, which means that damages are apportioned according to the parties’ percentage of fault. This also means that plaintiffs can be partially at fault for their own injuries.
Contact Us Today
Contact an Orlando personal injury attorney at The Pendas Law Firm today for a free consultation if you are injured in a hazing-related incident. You might have a viable personal injury claim, regardless of any criminal allegations. We will help recover compensation for your injuries, including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
The Pendas Law Firm also represents clients in the Jacksonville, Miami, West Palm Beach, Fort Myers, Tampa, Fort Lauderdale, Daytona Beach and Bradenton areas.