With school wrapping up and high school seniors celebrating their accomplishments at graduation parties across the country, many young people are looking forward to beginning college in the fall.
For many teens, attending college also means joining a fraternity and sorority. In the United States, over 9 million college students are part of the Greek system. Fraternities and sororities have a presence at over 800 college campuses in North America.
Many students benefit from the socialization and sense of camaraderie the Greek system provides, but there are downsides to these organizations – and not all of them are obvious.
If your child is considering pledging a fraternity or sorority, you may be surprised to learn how these organizations handle liability for personal injuries.
For more information about injuries on college campuses, contact a Jacksonville personal injury lawyer.
Universities Disclaim Liability for Injuries at Fraternity and Sorority Houses
According to an NPR report, fraternities and sororities are private organizations that purchase private liability insurance.
In other words, colleges and universities are usually not legally responsible for injuries that occur in residences owned by fraternities and sororities.
Colleges and universities are also generally not liable for injuries that occur at private events, such as frat parties and frat-sponsored events.
Instead, personal injuries that happen on Greek property are covered by private insurance, which is funded by Greek member dues.
One of the main insurers of fraternities and sororities is the Fraternity Risk Management Trust, which has an estimated $1 billion in reserve.
Also Read : How to Prevent Sports Injuries this School Year
Individual Liability for Accidents at Fraternity Events
Although many parents feel relief at knowing their son or daughter is covered by private insurance in the event of an injury, the report goes on to state that many Greek insurance policies exclude coverage for intentional acts, such as assault, hazing, and injuries caused by car accidents.
These exclusions can expose individual fraternity and sorority members to personal liability, which means plaintiffs often make claims against the homeowner’s insurance policies held by students’ parents.
In 2012 and 2013, over 80 members of a Yale University fraternity were named in a wrongful death lawsuit and two personal injury lawsuits stemming from a 2011 accident, in which a member of the fraternity lost control of a U-Haul truck and crashed it into spectators at a tailgating party. The crash killed one woman and injured two others.
In denying the fraternity’s motion for summary judgment, the judge indicated that state law may make the fraternity’s individual members liable for the accident under the principle of agency.
The judge wrote: “… [T]his court concludes that there are circumstances under which individual members of an unincorporated association may be held vicariously liable for the negligent acts of another member.”
The case settled in 2016 for an undisclosed amount. As part of the settlement, none of the fraternity members admitted responsibility for the accident.
In another case in 2009, a college freshman sued a fraternity, her own sorority, her university, and her state’s board of education after she fell 25 feet from an open window during a party. Her case was dismissed when the court ruled there was “no evidence of an inherently dangerous condition.”
Contact a Jacksonville Personal Injury Lawyer about Your Case
If your son or daughter has been injured at school or college, whether on or off campus, you need an experienced Jacksonville personal injury lawyer on your side as soon as possible. These are complex cases that usually involve many different parties.
It’s important to protect your rights. Don’t wait to speak to an attorney about your case.