FH is a lady of Iranian nationality. She came to this country and settled in the United Kingdom with her partner, HN, and their twin daughters, GN and PN, who were born on 30 July 2001.
On 11 August 2010, Ms H, together with her partner, travelled by car to Spain for the purposes of spending a holiday there. Ms H and her partner shared the driving. The two children were in the back of the vehicle.
Having travelled through France, the family entered Spain and continued their journey along a main motorway heading towards the Mediterranean Coast. Ms H's partner was driving and Ms H herself was falling asleep when suddenly the car began to move off the carriageway towards the central reservation. The left-side wheels left the carriageway causing Mr N to lose control of the car which he tried to steer back onto the carriageway but without success. The car somersaulted several times before coming to a standstill resting on its roof.
Mr N suffered very severe injuries as a result of the accident and, tragically, the two children were ejected from the vehicle via the rear window and both suffered injuries that proved fatal. Ms H herself suffered a number of physical injuries, although, thankfully, none were serious. However, unsurprisingly, Ms H suffered extremely serious psychological injuries as a result of the event and the aftermath which have required her to undergo a detailed programme of psychological counselling and therapy which is still continuing and is likely to continue for some time in the future.
Our investigations established that no other vehicle was involved and a close analysis of the police investigation report established that there were no other factors which caused or contributed to the accident which therefore could only have occurred because of Mr N's lack of concentration leading to the vehicle drifting off the carriageway and onto the central reservation, thereby causing him to lose total control.
The law relating to such claims is different in Spain than that which applies in the Courts of England and Wales, including a shorter date before which legal proceedings would have to be commenced.
However, we were able to persuade the insurers who represented the driver that the claim should be brought within the Courts of England and Wales rather than Spain and that English law should apply so far as the time within which proceedings had to be commenced, which is 3 years rather than 1 year in Spain.
The insurers have also formally admitted liability in respect of the accident which means that the only issue to be dealt with is in connection with the damages that should be paid as a result of the deaths of the two children and the injuries and consequential losses suffered by their mother. We are currently in the process of undertaking the necessary work to enable those damages to be properly assessed.