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If you live in the Chicago area, you might have heard about a recent news story and subsequent lawsuit concerning the death of a 19-year-old fraternity pledge at Northern Illinois University (NIU). According to a recent article in The Chicago Tribune, the family of the student filed a wrongful death claim after their son died after heavy drinking at a Pi Kappa Alpha pledge event. While a Cook County trial judge initially dismissed the lawsuit, the family appealed. The First District Appellate Court partially reversed the Cook County trial court's ruling, allowing the wrongful death claim to be reinstated.

The outcome of this wrongful death lawsuit could set an important precedent in Illinois when it comes to hazing activities at fraternities.

Details of the Northern Illinois University Hazing Incident

What happened during the pledge event, and on what grounds did the family file a wrongful death lawsuit? According to the Chicago Tribune article, the victim, David Bogenberger, died at the NIU Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity house, located in DeKalb, after being required to go "from room to room answering questions posed by members and their guests and…given shots of alcohol." The party violated NIU campus rules, and the fraternity did not inform any campus officials that the party was taking place.

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Posted on in Wrongful Death

Illinois Wrongful Death Attorney

Two types of lawsuit may be filed in Illinois when a family member dies because of another's negligence or wrongful conduct: wrongful death claims and survival actions. Wrongful death claims compensate the family for the losses they suffer because of the death, while a survival action is the lawsuit that the victim would have been able to bring, had he or she survived the accident. If you wish to file a wrongful death or survival claim, an attorney's advice can help.

Wrongful Death Claims

In a wrongful death lawsuit, an accident victim's surviving spouse, child, or other family member can sue to recover damages for the losses they suffered because of the untimely death. These damages may include claims for:

  • Funeral expenses;
  • Loss of support, comfort, and companionship;
  • Loss of financial support;
  • Loss of the enjoyment of sexual relations; or
  • Loss of training and guidance.

Survival Actions

Traditionally, a person's right to sue for personal injury ended at death. But it would be unfair for a culpable party to avoid the payment of damages simply because the victim died. The Illinois Survival Actpreserves the deceased person's cause of action for personal injury. It allows a decedent's estate to become involved in any cause of action that the decedent had at the time of death, and means that the victim's family is not left with medical expenses that they cannot afford.

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