(CN) – A woman in Portugal is set to face massive liability for a fatal wreck following a ruling by the EU’s top court Tuesday about her obligation to insure the vehicle she no longer drove.
It is unclear when Alina Antonia Juliana stopped insuring her car — having elected to stop driving for health reasons — but she left the car parked outside her house and did not take other steps to withdraw the vehicle from use.
In November 2006, Juliana’s son took her car without her permission or knowledge. When the vehicle went of the road, he and two passengers were killed.
Portugal’s Motor Vehicle Guarantee Fund wound up paying the families of the victims nearly half a million euros and sued Juliana for reimbursement, claiming that Juliana’s failure to keep the vehicle insured left her liable.
Asked to review the case from the Portugal Supreme Court, the European Court of Justice ruled Tuesday that EU law makes civil liability insurance obligatory when a vehicle remains registered in a member state and is capable of being driven.
Though a copy of the ruling is not available in English, the Luxembourg-based court sent out a press release this morning on the case.
“It follows that national legislation can provide that, when the owner of the vehicle involved in the accident has failed to comply with his obligation to insure that vehicle, that compensation body can bring an action not only against the person or persons responsible for the accident, but also against that owner, irrespective of the civil liability of the latter in the occurrence of the accident,” the press release states.