Insurers dodge liability over Andanças carpark conflagration

Just as many suspected, the outlook for hundreds of people who lost their cars in a major fire at the Andanças dance festival earlier this month is bleak.

Only those who had specific fire cover appear to be likely to win any kind of compensation, say news reports – suggesting that of the 422 vehicles that were destroyed, only around 100 will result in any kind of pay-out.

The reason, explains national tabloid Correio da Manhã, is that a police report has established that a ‘badly extinguished cigarette’ caused the blaze.

The fact that this was not one of the initial theories will lead many to question whether it truly is the case.

A ‘badly extinguished cigarette’ neatly shifts the blame from insurers, explains CM, as unless it can be established whose cigarette caused the fire, no-one has to assume responsibility.

The news will leave the 320 or so drivers who lost their wheels two weeks ago in further limbo.

Of course, they can attempt to win damages from the festival organisation’s insurers, but there are extreme doubts that any policy will cover this level of millionaire pay-out.

The drivers will “just have to assume the damages out of their own pocket”, says CM.

One of those affected was Nádia Lima, a young psychologist who opened a Facebook page for victims to keep up with one another.

Her last post confirms that “hundreds of people continue to have no answers on how they can get on with their lives and jobs in a country where no one wants to assume responsibility or answer for things that have happened”.

Lima’s page carries other posts where she has had to cancel scheduled appointments in Lisbon, Tomar and Leiria due to the fact that she no longer has a means of transport.

There are ways that compensation could be sought through the courts, adds CM, but this will “naturally take a long time”.

In the meantime, all those people who bought their cars on hire-purchase, will continue to be bound by monthly payment schedules, despite the fact they no longer have a set of wheels.