A LAWYER who fought for a family following a crash in Portugal says the incident turned their lives upside down.

Mark Lee, from law firm Penningtons Manches, spoke after June Vann, 60, from Leigh, and her family won their fight to prove a driver was solely responsible for the crash.

Mrs Vann and her husband Martin had just finished a meal with their two children and their partners when they were hit by a car as they crossed a road in the Algarve in September 2010.

Mr Vann, 65, died several days after the crash, while Mrs Vann suffered severe orthopaedic injuries and a brain injury which caused her to be in a coma for several days.

On Monday, a High Court judge ruled that the incident, which took place on September 7, 2010, was the driver’s fault. His insurers had previously argued that Mr and Mrs Vann had been negligent in how they crossed the road.

Mr Lee said: “This was a tragic accident involving a very close knit family whose lives were turned upside down while on holiday in Portugal.

“Mr and Mrs Vann’s children have done their best to continue to look after June although this is very challenging because of her behavioural changes resulting from the accident.

“Not only did they lose their father but, in many ways, they have also lost the mother that they knew and loved.”

Mrs Vann had to be airlifted back to the UK and spent nine months as an inpatient in the Neurological Rehabilitation Unit at Homerton Hospital in London.

Their two children, Alex Vann and Julia Plappert, saw the crash and its immediate aftermath and were later diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Mr Lee added: “I am delighted that the court has now recognised that the Vann family was the innocent victim of this terrible tragedy and that the defendant has been held 100 per cent responsible for the accident.

“It is disappointing that the Portuguese insurer felt it appropriate to withdraw its previous admission of liability and surprising that it continued to fight primary liability in the run up to trial.

“We remain of the view that the evidence has always been fairly clear – the Brazilian driver was travelling too fast and he was the cause of the accident.”

Nicholas Plappert, the husband of Mr and Mrs Vann’s daughter Julia, said: “Our primary concern has always been to recover sufficient compensation to pay for the professional care that June now needs and this judgment will greatly help that process.

“It is very frustrating that the Portuguese insurers decided to withdraw their previous admission of liability since it meant we had to go through the ordeal of a trial in order to get justice.

“We hope that Ocidental SA will now adopt a more sensible approach to the negotiations so that we can try to draw a line under this terrible tragedy.”