Chicago Hazing and Bullying Lawyer

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If your college student has been seriously injured or tragically killed in a sorority or fraternity hazing or bullying incident, a Chicago hazing and bullying lawyer at The Kryder Law Group, LLC Accident and Injury Lawyers can help. We represent hazing victims in Chicago and across Illinois. Our personal injury attorneys have decades of experience with complex claims, including those involving sorority and fraternity hazing and bullying.

What Is Hazing or Bullying?


Hazing and bullying are types of harassment found in many settings, including college campuses. Hazing usually involves initiation rituals forced on new group members, like in a fraternity or sorority, aiming to humiliate or harm.

Bullying consists of repeated aggressive behavior intended to harm, intimidate, or control someone. Both can cause significant physical and psychological harm to victims.

Facing the Challenge: Combatting Hazing and Bullying on College Campuses

As the new school year approaches, parents and their college-bound kids are preparing for college life. Parents often go through checklists with their teens, reminding them about laundry, medication, and the dangers of alcohol and drugs. While cautioning them, many also encourage joining a fraternity or sorority. Greek life offers benefits like networking, philanthropy, community service, social development, and leadership skills.

Be Aware of Hazing

However, a critical concern often overlooked is the prevalence of sorority or fraternity hazing and bullying, with potentially catastrophic outcomes. Encouraging our children to join these Greek organizations might unknowingly place them in danger.

As college students return to school, it’s crucial to recognize the dangers of hazing and bullying, which can lead to serious physical and emotional injuries.

How Common Is Hazing in Illinois?

According to hazingprevention.org, 55% of college students in various organizations experience hazing, with the majority going unreported. In Illinois, many report hazing whose severity ranges from mild discomfort to life-threatening injuries or death.

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 and sexual assault.

At a hazing event, a hazing victim may suffer:

  • Forced alcohol abuse
  • Verbal abuse
  • Name-calling
  • Intentional sleep deprivation
  • Harassment
  • Threats
  • Humiliation
  • Forced cooking or cleaning services for other members
  • Burns
  • Bondage
  • Engaging in illegal activity
  • Nudity
  • Sexual hazing or sexual abuse
  • Animal abuse
  • Physical abuse
  • Coerced eating
  • Abductions
  • Kidnapping
  • Exposure to dangerous weather conditions

What Illinois Laws Address Hazing?

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.

Is Hazing Illegal in Illinois?

Yes. Hazing is illegal in Illinois and is classified as a Class A misdemeanor escalating to a Class 4 felony if resulting in death or serious injury. Most college handbooks explicitly prohibit all hazing activities.

Bogenberger v. Pi Kappa Alpha Alpha Corp

In 2012, 19-year-old Northern Illinois University student David Bogenberger tragically died from alcohol poisoning during a fraternity hazing event. Required to drink excessive amounts of vodka, his blood alcohol level reached five times the legal limit. This incident is one of the most chilling fraternity hazing cases in recent Illinois history.

The Bogenberger family filed a civil lawsuit after a tragic incident, leading to a landmark hazing case, at the Illinois Supreme Court. This case, Bogenberger v. Pi Kappa Alpha Alpha Corp, established a precedent allowing civil damages actions against fraternity and sorority members for negligence in hazing incidents.

In August 2018, a landmark $14 million settlement was reached in the Bogenberger case, challenging the longstanding rule of no liability for providing alcohol except under specific laws like Illinois’ Dram Shop Act and under-aged prohibitions.

Other Tragic Examples of Hazing Deaths in Illinois

Nick Haben died in 1980 from alcohol poisoning related to a lacrosse club initiation at Western Illinois University.

In 1970, Donna Bedinger suffered fatal head trauma during a sorority pledge event at Eastern Illinois University.

What Should I Do If My Child Is Injured in a Hazing Incident?

If your child has suffered serious injury as the result of a hazing incident:

  1. Get medical attention for your child – This is the first and most important step. You need to make sure they receive medical treatment. Once your child is stable, you can begin to focus on the legal process.
  2. 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.
  3. Contact a lawyer – An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you navigate the legal process, seek justice, and get the maximum compensation you and your child deserve.

What Resources Are Available?

Parents are advised to review their student’s school policy on hazing. Most colleges have clear policies against it.

Pledges: Tips to Stay Safe while Considering Greek Life

Tips to Stay Safe while Considering Greek Life in Chicago Infographic

  • Research the group beforehand to understand their values and expectations.
  • Talk to current and former members to get a better understanding of the pledging process.
  • Attend all official events and avoid any unofficial, secretive activities.
  • Trust your gut and speak up if you feel uncomfortable or pressured in any way.

Contact The Kryder Law Group, LLC, Accident & Injury Lawyers

The Kryder Law Group, LLC, Accident & Injury Lawyers is a law firm dedicated to protecting the rights of hazing and bullying victims. If you or your child has been a victim of hazing or bullying, our experienced hazing attorneys can help, starting with a free case review.

Chicago Hazing and Bullying Lawyer
Chicago Hazing and Bullying Lawyer
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