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Wrongful Death Cases: A Teen Tragedy

“Wrongful death” is the legal term assigned to the tragedies that occur due to the negligence of another. While any loss of life is difficult and emotional on the surviving friends and loved ones, it is the circumstances surrounding these deaths that make them particularly challenging to cope with. This is especially true when the death occurred in a preventable situation, or when the decedent is a youth.

New School Year, New Problems

Given it is the beginning of a new school year, it is also the beginning of “rush”—the Greek life system’s particular selection process. Sororities and fraternities are always under strict media scrutiny for their controversial hazing rituals. These news stories are frequent reminders of an imperfect system that draws young people to participate in activities that may cost them their lives. One such story comes quite close to home.

Just the other day, authorities discovered Clemson University student Tucker Hipps’ body floating in Lake Hartwell. Hipps was on an early morning run with members of his fraternity when he fell behind the group, police reported. It appeared Hipps suffered a head injury and may have fallen from a bridge near where his body was found, though authorities have not released a conclusive report.

Though the fraternity denies hazing was to blame for Hipps’ death and no formal charges have been filed, the circumstances surrounding the death are surely suspect. If nothing else, it raises questions about the people he was with not noticing or not caring about his sudden disappearance from the group. It is unclear when Hipps was reported missing to authorities, though a released 911 transcript indicates his fraternity brothers noticed and reported his disappearance shortly after returning from the run.

These types of circumstances make it difficult to place blame. Sororities and fraternities are punished by suspensions, funding cuts, and even eliminating Greek Life altogether after serious incidents are reported. The possible players in a case like this include fellow fraternity brothers, the chapter of the fraternity, the affiliated university, and any supervisors or affiliates. The complexity of these cases is further complicated by the fact that teen drinking is usually a factor, making investigations difficult to complete.

Getting Help

Regardless of one’s opinion on the Greek system, accidents such as this should not happen and are entirely preventable. Outside of Greek life, colleges and administrators have responsibilities to ensure student safety. Failure to protect the student safety that leads to death may be the basis for a wrongful death lawsuit.

Wrongful death lawsuits are complex, time-consuming, and intricate. They require experienced attorneys who know the ins and outs of the justice system and who have knowledge of how to navigate these cases. Greek-related deaths are only one example, and college campuses are only one place where wrongful death lawsuits arise. Wrongful death cases can arise whenever someone or something (like a company) had an obligation to do something and they failed to do so. This failure must have caused the death in order for there to be a viable claim.

If you or someone you know has been affected by a death that occurred in a manner such as this, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. Our wrongful death attorneys at Solomon Law Group are always available to hear about your potential claims. Please do not hesitate to contact our office and learn more about what you may be entitled to.

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