Driver in Second One-Way Crash in Tampa Found to be Drunk. But is There Any Liability?

Finebloom, Haenel & Higgins

On February 21, 2014, 25-year-old Chase Leveille made an illegal u-turn on I-275 in Tampa and drove the wrong way down the highway, eventually hitting a delivery truck head on.  Unlike the accident that made headlines just a few weeks before, one on the same stretch of highway where 5 people were killed in similar circumstances, this accident only involved the death of Leveille and some minor injuries to the two men in the truck.  Toxicology results were released in mid-March which showed that Leveille’s BAC was well above the legal limit at 0.21 when he drove his 1993 Honda into oncoming traffic.  The investigation into the accident is still open at this time.

With this accident, as with any involving a drunk driver or other negligent driver who died in the same accident, there would be a question as to who would be legally liable for injuries to others in the accident and what the chances of actually getting paid anything are.  The simple answer is that there could be a viable personal injury suit in a case such as this one depending on the severity of the injuries.  Collecting on a judgment is also possible, although there is some problems with Leveille’s situation that most likely mean that anyone injured in this accident could end up with nothing.

In a personal injury case, an injured party can still collect for their injuries if the person who caused the accident is dead.  This is the case if the person who caused the accident died as a result of the accident or at a later time due to other reasons.  A civil suit against someone still stands even after his or her death; the money would have to come from his or her estate.  The insurance company would also still be required to pay for injuries arising from an accident, even after the person who caused the accident is dead.  This is not the same as with a criminal case, where the case would no longer exist after the death of the defendant.

What this would mean is that Leveille’s estate could be liable for injuries that someone else got as a result of his actions.  There are some red flags in this particular case that seem to show that there would be very little which can be collected.  One problem is that it seems very likely that Leveille had anything that could be collected if there was a judgment against the estate.  Leveille was driving a car that was over 20-years-old and probably was worth very little.  It was also likely because of this that the amount that the car was insured for was also probably the Florida state minimums of $10,000 personal injury protection and $10,000 property damage liability.  It seems equally unlikely that Leveille owned any other property, such as a house, which could be used to pay a judgment.  What does remain is that there may be a chance of a case against another party, but the investigation would need to be finished first.