A WOMAN left widowed and with traumatic brain injuries after a crash in Portugal is seeking damages from the driver’s insurer.
June Vann, 60, was left with serious brain damage and her 65-year-old husband Martin died after they were struck by a car as they crossed a road in the Algarve in September 2010.
Both Mrs Vann’s legs were shattered and she suffered a brain injury which has affected her behaviour and personality, her lawyers say.
Through her son-in-law, Mrs Vann, from Leigh, has launched a bid for substantial damages from the driver’s insurers, claiming he was “entirely responsible”, in a rare case tried at London’s High Court under Portuguese Law.
Barrister Gerard McDermott QC said the couple had gone for dinner in Quarteira with their son Alex, their daughter Julia, and their partners on September 7.
As the group left Agostinhos restaurant and crossed the road, Mr and Mrs Vann were hit by a car. Mr Vann died 18 days later in hospital, while Mrs Vann, then 57, suffered devastating head injuries as well as complex fractures to both legs.
While her legs have healed, the injury “materially altered her behaviour and personality” and in need of supervision and care, Mr McDermott said.
He claimed the driver was travelling too fast – about 60mph – for the conditions, that he was unable to stop in the distance he could see to be clear and that he failed to keep an adequate lookout.
However, lawyers for the insurance company, Ocidental Seguros SA, deny the car was travelling at such a high speed, and the driver was not at fault.
In a statement after the accident, the driver said: “It was almost dark and there were trees on both sides of the road – the pedestrians only came within my view just before I hit them”
The insurers’ barrister claimed the couple contributed to the accident by failing to keep a lookout, failing to notice the vehicle, crossing the road when it was unsafe, failing to get out of the way and breaching the Portuguese Highway Code.
Mr Justice Supperstone, hearing the case, was told he would have to decide the case under Portuguese law which, unlike UK law, imposes a burden on the insurance company to prove the motorist was not responsible for the accident.
The judge reserved his judgment until an unspecified date.