If your college student has been seriously injured or tragically killed in a sorority or fraternity hazing or bullying incident, The Kryder Law Group, LLC, can help. We represent seriously injured hazing victims in Chicago and the surrounding metro area.
Our Experience Can Help You
Our attorneys have decades of experience handling complex personal injury cases, including those involving sorority and fraternity hazing and bullying. We understand the unique challenges that these cases present, and we know how to get results.
If your child has been injured or killed in a hazing or bullying incident, call us today for a free consultation. We will fight for the justice and compensation you and your family deserve.
In this Article
New School Year, New Hazards: Hazing and Bullying on College Campuses
With the start of a new school year right around the corner, many nervous parents and their excited college-bound children are making final preparations for the exciting new adventure of college life. Many parents will run through checklists with their teenager. “You need to do your laundry. Do you know how to do laundry? You need to take your medicine. Do you remember how to take your medicine?” We also caution our children on the dangers of alcohol and drugs.
As we caution them about these dangers, we also often encourage our children to join a fraternity or sorority. The benefits of Greek life are numerous including networking opportunities, philanthropy, community service, social development, and leadership skills.
Be Aware of Hazing
However, one critical concern that can be overlooked is the prevalence of sorority or fraternity hazing and bullying and the potentially catastrophic consequences. When we encourage our children to join a Greek organization, we could be unknowingly placing our children in danger.
As college students head back to school, it’s important to be aware of the dangers of hazing and bullying. Both hazing and bullying can have serious consequences, including physical and emotional injuries.
Bogenberger v. Pi Kappa Alpha Alpha Corp
One of the most chilling fraternity hazing cases in recent Illinois history is the tragic story of David Bogenberger. In the fall of 2012, a Northern Illinois University 19 year-old student, David Bogenberger, made the decision to rush a fraternity. This decision tragically led to his death. During a fraternity rush event, pledges were required to drink vodka following a series of questions.
Fraternity members organizing the event designed personalized vomit buckets for pledges and obtained breathalyzers to check alcohol levels. The fraternity members planned and prepared to require its pledges to consume dangerous amounts of alcohol. Tragically, David Bogenberger died that night. His blood alcohol level was five times the legal limit.
His heartbroken family filed a civil lawsuit and the case that followed, Bogenberger v. Pi Kappa Alpha Alpha Corp, went to the Illinois Supreme Court. The case established for the first time a cause of action in negligence for Greek hazing victims. The court allowed a civil damages action against the local fraternity chapter, its officers, members as well as sorority members that were involved.
In August of 2018, a $14 million settlement was reached. The court’s landmark decision reflects a changing legal landscape imposing liability against the Greek fraternity and members. Before Bogenberger, the long standing rule was that no liability existed for the sale or gift of alcoholic beverages except for the Dram Shop Act and statutory prohibitions against minors consuming alcohol. The Bogenberger case appears to directly tackle the rise in hazing incidents and adds further protection for students and future fraternity hazing lawsuits.
How to Keep Your College Student Safe From Hazing and Bullying
The best way to keep your college student safe from hazing and bullying is to have a conversation with them about it. Some students may feel peer pressure to pledge a fraternity or sorority and may not want to disappoint you by saying no. Other students may be unaware of the dangers of hazing in fraternities and sororities and the physical harm that can result from it.
Encourage your college student to research the fraternity or sorority before making any decisions. Once they have decided to pledge, make sure they are comfortable with all aspects of the pledging process. If your child ever feels pressured to do anything that makes them uncomfortable, they should feel comfortable enough to reach out to you or another trusted adult.
Definition of Hazing Under Illinois Law
When discussing hazing with your child, it is important to define hazing. So what exactly is hazing? In Illinois, hazing is defined under hazing statute 720 ILCS 5/12C-50 as knowingly requiring the performance of any act that is not sanctioned by the university for the purpose of admission into a group that results in bodily harm.
Hazing can take on many forms but each can lead to tragic consequences.
If your child has been seriously injured or killed as a result of hazing or bullying, the hazing attorneys at The Kryder Law Group, LLC can help. We represent hazing victims and their families in Chicago and the surrounding metro area. Contact our law firm today for a free consultation with our sorority and fraternity hazing lawyers.
Is Hazing Illegal in Illinois?
You should ask your children if they know hazing is illegal in Illinois. The answer may surprise you. Nevertheless, the answer is yes. Hazing is illegal in Illinois and can result in criminal charges. Hazing is a Class A misdemeanor. In cases resulting in death or great bodily harm, it is a Class 4 felony. In fact, most college handbooks specifically address hazing.
University Policies and Hazing Resources
Parents should research their student’s school policy on hazing. Most colleges have a very clear policy against hazing. For example, the following links are for a handful of Illinois colleges and resources.
According to hazingprevention.org, 55% of college students who are involved in clubs, sports teams, or other organizations report that they have been hazed at some point in their student career. The exact number of how many kids are hazed each year is difficult to ascertain, as the majority of hazing goes unreported. The severity of the hazing in Illinois ranges from some mild discomfort and embarrassment to serious life-changing injuries and even death.
Other Tragic Examples of Hazing Deaths in Illinois
In addition to David Bogenberger, other people have died in Illinois from hazing. In 1980, Nick Haben died from alcohol poisoning after participating in a drinking game required to play with the lacrosse club at Western Illinois University.
In 1970, Donna Bedinger died from head trauma after being left in the woods with other sorority pledges of Alpha Gamma Delta at Eastern Illinois University. Cases of hazing deaths in the state of Illinois go back as far as the late 1890s.
Common Types of Hazing
Not all hazing looks the same. There are different types of hazing behaviors that pledges can be exposed to, ranging from silent games to physical abuse.
At a hazing event, a hazing victim may suffer:
Forced alcohol abuse
Intentional sleep deprivation
Forced cooking or cleaning services for other members
Engaging in illegal activity
Sexual exploitation or forced sexual acts
Exposure to dangerous weather conditions
Speak to an Attorney About Your Case
While hiring a personal injury attorney may not be necessary for college hazing events involving name-calling or periods of silence, it is a must for more serious injuries, such as burns, kidnapping, bondage, and any situation that presents a physical danger to the students involved. The experienced lawyers at The Kryder Law Group, LLC are ready to listen and evaluate your case.
What Should I Do If My Child Is Injured in a Hazing Incident?
If your child suffers serious injury as the result of a hazing incident, you should do the following:
Get medical attention for your child – This is the first and most important step. You need to make sure that your child receives any necessary medical treatment. Once your child is stable, you can begin to focus on the legal process.
Gather evidence – You will need to collect as much evidence as possible. This may include photos of the injuries, medical records, police reports, and eyewitness testimony.
Contact a lawyer – An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you navigate the legal process, seek justice, and get the compensation you and your child deserve.
The Kryder Law Group, LLC, Can Help
If your college student has been seriously injured or tragically killed in a hazing or bullying incident, The Kryder Law Group, LLC, Accident & Injury Lawyers, can help. We represent hazing victims who suffered severe injury in Chicago and the surrounding metro area.
We understand the physical, emotional, and financial toll that hazing can take on a family. Our law firm will fight to get you the compensation you deserve from your hazing case. Contact us today for a free case evaluation with a sorority or fraternity hazing lawyer.
Next Steps for Parents and Greek Hazing Victims
For parents and victims of hazing, the Bogenberger case now clearly creates a right of action against the Greek organization and its members. It is also a painful reminder of the difficult circumstances young college students eager to gain acceptance may be put in. The better we equip our students to identify hazing, understand the legal ramifications, report hazing, and disengage in hazing activities, the better chance we have to prevent needless tragedies.
Hazing is a serious issue that can have life-changing consequences. If you or someone you know has been injured in a hazing incident, it is important to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer for legal representation and to discuss all your legal options.
Call for a Free Consultation
The Kryder Law Group, LLC, Accident & Injury Lawyers, represents seriously injured hazing victims in Chicago and the surrounding metro area. We will fight to get you the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation with an experienced hazing lawyer.