A widow has been awarded £50,000 compensation for the death of a partner in a road accident after a hearing of the Belfast High Court determined liability.
Leslie Browne from County Down in Northern Ireland died in August 2010 from injuries sustained in a car crash the previous month. Leslie and his wife, Elizabeth, had been driving from Newry to Hilltown, when they were involved in a head-on collision along a stretch of the B8 known locally as the Seven Sisters because of its sharp bends.
Elizabeth claimed compensation for the death of a partner in a road accident, alleging that the driver of the car that hit the Browne´s vehicle – Sandra Murray – had been driving without due care and attention. It was also claimed that Murray had lost control of her Toyota Yaris due to travelling too fast for the wet road conditions, and then braking excessively as she approached the crown of a bend.
Murray denied that she had lost control of her vehicle due a lack of attention, and claimed that the loss of control was due to being hit from behind by a Fiat Punto driven by Michal Marczak. Marczak admitted that he had been driving too close to the Toyota Yaris for the road conditions, but denied that there had been any contact.
The claim for compensation for the death of a partner in a road accident went to the Belfast High Court where it was heard by Mr Justice Stephens. The judge was told that a settlement of £50,000 compensation for the death of a partner in a road accident had already been agreed and that the case was before him to determine liability.
After hearing there was no evidence to support Murray´s claims that she had been hit from behind by Marczak´s Fiat Punto, Judge Stephens ruled that Murray was solely responsible for causing the accident that resulted in Leslie´s death. He said that a combination of excessive speed and excessive braking due to inattentiveness had led to her losing control of her car.
The judge commented that Murray´s inattentiveness was reflected in the fact that she “did not and does not know what happened, so she grasped at anything that might exonerate her.” Mr Justice Stephens ordered Murray to pay the settlement of £50,000 compensation for the death of a partner in a road accident, Elizabeth´s legal costs and also those of Michal Marczak.