Assessing Damages in a Pennsylvania Hazing Case

How much should your attorney ask for in a hazing case? That depends on the damages you suffered.

Let’s take a case in which my client was recently awarded a substantial settlement.

My client was forcefully duct-taped and hung up on a door hook. When his clothing ripped, letting him fall to the ground, he damaged his teeth and suffered multiple facial lacerations.

When we filed the case with the Philadelphia court, we could easily prove the exact extent of the physical damages he sustained. The bills his family had gathered from the Emergency Room where he was initially sent were added to the costs for facial reconstruction, as well as follow-up psychiatry and psychotherapy. The total came to roughly $7,500 in medical bills. These physical damages were only a small part of our total claim.

My client had suffered emotional damages associated with the pain, suffering, embarrassment, and disfigurement resulting from the activities of his classmates. In order to claim emotional damages, we asked Dr. Susan Lipkins, who is a subject area expert on hazing, to assess our case. She determined that the events leading up to the incident with the door hook were acts of hazing. Furthermore, my client’s psychotherapist also reported he suffered from post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD).

In addition to physical and emotional damages, we also look for economic losses. In this case, my client did not complete his first year of college as a direct and inescapable result of his injuries. These added $30,000 to the total. But opportunity cost can in some cases reach much farther than any specific receipt or pricetag.

Hazing can cause significant emotional derailment, resulting in lost opportunities and underperformance. If you dropped out of school after an act of hazing, or could not find adequate employment, then hazing could be attributed as the primary cause.

If your institution was negligent in its duties to monitor student activities, as it was in my client’s case, then it is your right and obligation to sue the institution itself in order to reduce the likelihood that the same thing that happened to you will damage someone else. Read my next blog, “Proving Institutional Negligence in a Hazing Suit” to see when an institution is at fault.

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