Quarteira death crash lawsuit plays out in UK

A woman left widowed and with terrible brain injuries after a car accident in Quarteira is seeking damages from the driver’s insurers in a rare case that has been playing out in London’s High Court.
June Vann, 60, was left with traumatic brain damage and her 65-year-old husband Martin died after they were struck by a car as they crossed a road outside Agostinhos restaurant on the EN396 in September 2010, writes UK regional newspaper, the Echo.
Both Mrs Vann’s legs were shattered and she suffered a brain injury which has affected her behaviour and personality, say her lawyers.
In an unusual case tried in London’s High Court under Portuguese Law, Mrs Vann, represented by her son, has launched a bid for substantial damages from the driver’s insurers, Ocidental Segura S.A., claiming the driver was “entirely responsible” for the tragedy.
Barrister Gerard McDermott QC said the couple had gone for dinner in Quarteira with their adult children and their respective partners.
As the group left Agostinhos 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 means she is 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”, reports the Echo.
However, lawyers for the insurance company deny the car was travelling at such a high speed, and say 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.”
Ocidental’s barrister claimed the couple “contributed to the accident”, writes the Echo, “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 under Portuguese law, which, “unlike UK law, imposes a burden on the insurance company to prove the motorist was not responsible for the accident”, says the Echo.
The judge has reserved his judgment until an unspecified date, the newspaper concludes.