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Texas teen paralyzed in 'affluenza' crash settles for $2 million

One night last June, a North Texas teenager’s life was destroyed after he got in the back of a pickup truck driven by another teen who had been drinking. In a matter of seconds, the passenger’s life changed dramatically.

He was thrown from the bed of the truck and landed on his head when the truck flipped over in an accident. Now, the young man who previously had a full and promising life ahead of him remains paralyzed in a hospital bed. He is minimally responsive and only able to smile and blink.

His family, who sued the teen driver and his family, has announced that they have reached a $2 million settlement of that lawsuit.

The car accident that caused the teen’s catastrophic injuries made national headlines last year due to the seemingly light criminal sentence given to the teen who had been driving the truck. The then 16-year-old driver was drunk when he swerved into a car parked on the side of the road, killing four people and injuring several others.

The driver was ordered to undergo inpatient rehabilitation and complete 10 years of probation, but did not receive any jail time. The national news media took notice of the unorthodox argument that the teen suffered from “affluenza,” because his parents were extremely permissive and never instilled a sense of responsibility.

The families of five of the other accident victims have also reached settlements, but the specific details regarding those settlements are unavailable. One other family who has filed suit has not reached a settlement and is currently seeking a jury trial.

This case, although tragic, should serve as a strong reminder to accident victims that reckless drivers can be held responsible both criminally and civilly for their actions. By filing a legal claim, victims and their families can pursue the financial compensation they deserve. While money cannot undo a devastating accident, it can help people recover from a crash while also serving as an additional punishment for the liable party.

Source: The Dallas Morning News, "Tarrant teen whose DWI crash killed 4 reaches $2 million-plus settlement with family of injured boy," May 6, 2014

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