Sexual Assaults & Hazing in New Jersey High Schools and Colleges – What is the Law? (Part 2)


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By a New Jersey & Pennsylvania school hazing lawyer

 Civil Lawsuits for Hazing in New Jersey High Schools & Colleges

The problem of hazing in New Jersey’s schools, including high schools and colleges, has made national headlines in the past several years. The problem isn’t limited to just New Jersey, and the problem isn’t a new one. In fact, hazing has been a problem in schools and colleges for decades. Only recently, has the extent of the problem come to light. In the last 20-30 years, nearly every single state in the U.S. has passed some kind of criminal hazing law. However, despite these laws, it seems that hazing and the extent of the harm caused by hazing have only continued to grow. Students are often physically or sexually assaulted; some are forced to consume drugs or alcohol in extreme acts of initiation. Hazing occurs in sports teams, sororities/fraternities, and other group settings.

Read part 1 of this article to learn about criminal hazing law in NJ.

School Hazing & Civil Lawsuits in New Jersey

Under the civil tort system, individuals and organizations which either intentionally or negligently cause injury to another person can be held liable and ultimately ordered to pay financial restitution or compensation to the injured individual. This is the bedrock of the civil justice system; wrongs are righted through financial compensation awards. Hazing lawsuits are no different.

Who Can Be Held Liable in a School Hazing Lawsuit in New Jersey?

In New Jersey, a victim of hazing has the legal right to seek justice and file a civil lawsuit against both direct perpetrators and indirect perpetrators. Direct perpetrators are individuals who engaged in the acts of hazing. Indirect perpetrators include other individuals and organizations (i.e., schools, sororities/fraternities, etc.) which negligently failed to prevent/stop the hazing.

Related: Two College Students Killed in Alleged Hazing Rituals

Liability of School Organizations (Schools, Sororities/Fraternities, Etc.) for Hazing

Filing a civil lawsuit against a direct perpetrator is fairly straightforward. Filing hazing lawsuits against indirect perpetrators is more complex. Liability of indirect perpetrators often depends on two issues: 1. whether the individual or organization had a duty to the hazing victim, and 2. whether the individual/organization knew or should have known about the hazing at some time before the acts actually occurred.

As a general rule, schools owe a duty to all students to ensure that students will be free from unreasonable dangers and risks while on school property. Breach of that duty can result in liability, and this applies to hazing which takes place at school sanctioned events, i.e., in the locker room, at school parties, dances, etc. The same principles apply to other organizations like sororities and fraternities. For example, at a fraternity sanctioned event, the fraternity organization owes a duty to all fraternity members to protect members from unreasonable dangers. Breach of that duty is likely to result in liability.

School hazing lawsuits are often fought over whether the organization either knew or should have known about hazing. Proving that a school organization knew or should have known about hazing requires careful investigation into the facts of the case and also requires analyzing the school organization’s hazing policies and procedures, whether they were followed, etc.

Financial Compensation in New Jersey School Hazing Lawsuits

Victims of hazing may be able to receive fair and reasonable financial compensation for pain and suffering, medical bills, psychological treatment bills, and economic expenses such as additional education expenses.

School Hazing Lawyer in New Jersey & Pennsylvania

Our firm handles school hazing lawsuits in New Jersey and other states such as Pennsylvania. We have office locations throughout New Jersey: Cherry Hill, Atlantic City and Iselin. Call for a free consultation. Click To Call

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