Ethan Couch, the 16-year-old from Texas who killed four individuals and hurt two others, recently avoided jail time based on the “affluenza” defense. The youth was allegedly under the influence of alcohol on June 15 when he took his father’s company car in Dallas and swerved off of the road. His truck slammed into a crowd of pedestrians who had gathered near a disabled vehicle. At the time of the incident, responders reported that the youth’s blood alcohol level was .24, three times greater than the legal limit.
However, rather than being required to serve 20 years of jail time, a Texas judge determined that Ethan Couch would not receive jail time; instead, the youth was sentenced to time in a treatment facility and 10 years of probation. According to sources, the facility offers organic food choices, equine therapy and costs $450,000 annually. It will reportedly be paid for by the boy’s affluent parents.
Have you or someone you love been injured by a drunk driver and you would like to learn more about your rights or holding the appropriate party accountable for your injuries? Contact a Texas drunk driving accident attorney today to file your claim and seek compensation for your condition.
Ethan Couch Claims Affluenza Defense
Many have expressed criticism over the sentence and argue that others in the same predicament would have received a much stronger penalty for the deaths and injuries involved. However, Couch’s criminal defense team took an “affluenza defense” approach, arguing that Ethan Couch should not be held accountable due to his parents’ permissive style of raising him.
Critics assert that Couch’s defense team appears to have made up the term “affluenza defense” in order to argue that the youth had never learned that each of his actions had consequences due to the family’s apparent wealth. According to the boy’s psychologist, Couch’s parents gave him anything for which he asked. If you have questions about the affluenza defense or feel you have a claim against another party, a Texas drunk driving accident attorney can assist you throughout the legal process.
Those who support the affluenza defense may feel that the boy must have previously experienced damaging consequences for his actions in order for him to learn right from wrong. Otherwise, threatening legal consequences may not do any good. However, this does not mean that the youth was incapable of learning these life lessons, even his parents did not properly teach him. Many feel that the affluenza defense was simply a made-up term in an attempt to spare the boy from appropriate jail time. Still, the youth will face civil liability lawsuits from the families of the victims who were injured or killed in the wreck.
Criminal Liability versus Civil Liability
A Texas drunk driving accident attorney can help to differentiate between a criminal liability case and a civil liability case. Although Ethan Couch avoided jail time for the accident, the outcome of this criminal case may be different than a civil liability claim which will most likely be brought against him. For instance, although Ethan Couch committed a crime by driving while intoxicated and was under age at the time of the accident, he may also face civil liability charges.
In such an event, he will be judged on whether his actions were malicious, reckless or whether he acted out of negligence. If the court determines that he was at fault and his actions injured another party, he may be held accountable for compensation for pain and suffering, lost wages, medical expenses or wrongful death. Additionally, because Ethan Couch is a minor, his parents may also be named as defendants.
Sources report that Ethan Couch is currently facing five of these lawsuits brought on by families of those involved in the incident and the Texas drunk driving accident attorney representing them. The lawsuits also name the youth’s father and his father’s company who owned the vehicle that Couch was driving when the wreck occurred. All four of the surviving family members are filing for wrongful death, and the parents of the two individuals who were injured are also seeking compensation.
Injured? Contact a Texas Drunk Driving Accident Attorney Today
If you or someone you love were injured or killed in an accident involving a drunk driver or if you have questions about the affluenza defense, Texas drunk driver accident attorneys can review your claim and help you to determine if you are eligible to file for compensation. At Attorney Group for Texas, we will provide you with a free case evaluation and connect you with an affiliated Texas drunk driving accident attorney who will handle your lawsuit.