Injuries at fraternity parties are not uncommon. Not only is a lot of alcohol often consumed, even by minors, but a lot of “partying” of other sorts – dancing, rough-housing, using drugs – may also take place, which can lead to injuries to those involved with the behavior as well as to innocent partygoers who are behaving themselves and acting with decorum. Other issues at fraternity parties may involve the quality or condition of the building itself.
A variety of types of incidents can happen at a fraternity party: falling from a balcony; slip and falls from wet floors; health issues after alcohol poisoning; fights; even falling through shoddy construction. In just one example, a floor collapsed at a Clemson University fraternity party on the floor below because of the weight and force of many people dancing.
As with all personal injury cases, it is necessary to prove that the defendant had a duty of care and that the defendant breached that duty. The defendants, depending on the situation, could be the hosts, the university, the owners of the property, or other individuals involved.
It’s important to reach out as soon as possible to a personal injury lawyer who has experience with the many laws that could be at play, depending on the details of the incident. Each law applies in different situations and has certain stipulations or limitations and can be directed at different defendants.
The establishment or host
Florida’s dram shop law states “A person who sells or furnishes alcoholic beverages to a person of lawful drinking age shall not thereby become liable for injury or damage caused by or resulting from the intoxication of such person, except that a person who willfully and unlawfully sells or furnishes alcoholic beverages to a person who is not of lawful drinking age or who knowingly serves a person habitually addicted to the use of any or all alcoholic beverages may become liable for injury or damage caused by or resulting from the intoxication of such minor or person.” (Fla. Statute 768.125)
Under this statute, the “social host” (person who threw the party) or the establishment is generally protected from a lawsuit, but may be liable if the person knew that the guest was underage or knew that the person had a drinking problem.
The university or fraternity
Whether or not the university or fraternity can be held accountable depends heavily on many factors. Dram shop laws come into play here, but universities may have some liability if they strongly encourage “Greek life” and social activities, if the university or fraternity advertised the party in a certain way, did not take reasonable precautions to prevent underage drinking or ensure safe conditions, etc.
If the injury was sustained in an altercation with another individual or if the cause of the injury can be clearly connected to the behavior of an individual, it is possible to sue that person – or in the case of a minor, the person’s parents.
Property owner or contractors
Premises liability laws hold owners (and tenants or lessees) responsible for maintaining a safe environment. If the property was not well maintained and the injury was caused by these poor conditions, the owner may be held liable. For instance, in the case of a balcony collapse at an Austin, TX apartment building that injured 23 people, the number of people on the balcony exceeded the weight limit for the balcony, and the screws anchoring the balcony to the outer wall were unable to hold the weight. In such a situation, a contractor may also be liable, if substandard construction was used, all proper codes were not followed, or the required paperwork was not filed with the municipality.
These are the kinds of things that I, as an experienced Florida personal injury lawyer, look for. I dive deep into the details of the case to find what may have created the hazardous situation that led to the injuries. Like other personal injury cases, you may be able to receive reimbursement for current and future medical costs, lost wages or future wages, pain and suffering, and other expenses incurred because of the accident, such as necessary changes to your home to accommodate your injuries.
Contact me today to see how I can help you and your family after a fraternity party injury.