The stepfather of a young woman paralyzed after a car accident that she was not at fault believes his daughter was “badly let down by this country’s justice system”.
Anastassiya Kravtsova (24) from Lisburn, who was wheelchair bound for life, suffered horrific injuries when her car overturned on a road in Ballynahinch, Co Down on March 15, 2015.
More than seven years later, she is still awaiting her compensation.
Ms Kravtsova’s ex-boyfriend Beres Szabolcs left Northern Ireland without a trace while the traumatized teenager recovered. Almost two years later, she saw photos on Facebook of the Hungarian marrying a new woman in Italy, with whom he now has a child.
A European Arrest Warrant was issued against Mr Szabolcs and he was eventually extradited to NI in 2018 after being found in Copenhagen.
He was found guilty of negligent driving and causing serious bodily harm to Ms Phillips, who was only 16 at the time of the accident.
Mr Szabolcs received an eight-month prison sentence and a five-year driving ban. However, the then 28-year-old had already served five months in custody and was released.
Paul Phillips said his stepdaughter was “disturbed” by the verdict at the time.
Now Mr Phillips is demanding information on when she will receive the compensation she is entitled to as a result of the incident and said that as a “concerned parent” he wants to bring this issue to the fore to help other families going through similar ones Circumstances.
He said: “How can it be that a 16-year-old girl sits as a passenger in a car through no fault of her own seven and a half years after the accident with no prospect of her case being billed when the insurance company itself has expressly stated that it will take responsibility and liability?
“Why is the justice system allowing this to go on for so long? And why is there no conclusion in sight for Anastassiya?”
There had been delays in claims as Stormont had not set a new rate of compensation since 2017, with the situation exacerbated by the executive branch’s collapse twice in five years.
In 2020, lawyers had warned victims might not receive compensation by the autumn of that year, but Mr Phillips is concerned the date could be further away.
The discount rate is applied when calculating the flat rate compensation for serious personal injury and fatal accidents.
It is intended to enable victims of serious accidents to receive financial compensation to secure their future and to pay for necessities such as care costs. However, Mr Phillips is concerned that future changes in the rate could mean Anastassiya is ultimately entitled to even less compensation, which she has yet to see a dime of.
In May 2021 the Department of Justice applied a much lower discount rate of minus 1.75% to the damage calculation in NI and in March 2022 this was revised up slightly to minus 1.5.
Mr Phillips remains disappointed as he believes the justice system was “obviously lenient” in sentencing Mr Szabolcs but “completely failed Anastassiya”.
“He was able to travel around Europe on an arrest warrant and we took issue with the Public Prosecutor’s Office (PPS) because we felt there was injustice there, but the fact is we are almost eight years later and we fear that she is again informed that there will be a further delay in the case.
“We only want justice for Anastassiya. Compensation would give her the freedom to make choices in her own life, and her life was on hold considering she had to consult a lawyer and be re-interviewed each time.”
Ms Kravtsova and her family parted ways with their original legal team, and Mr Phillips says they have not been able to find new lawyers since.
A PPS spokesman said: “We recognize the tremendous pain and suffering that the events of March 2015 and the aftermath have caused to Anastassiya and her family. After careful consideration of the evidence presented by the police, it was decided to prosecute the accused for dangerous driving resulting in serious bodily harm.
“In May 2018, given the forensic evidence available leading up to the trial, the PPS accepted the defendant’s guilty plea on the lesser misdemeanor of grievous bodily harm by negligent driving. This step was taken in accordance with a prosecutor’s duty to continually review the Test for Prosecution.
“The Director of Public Prosecutions then met personally with Mr. and Mrs. Phillips to explain in detail our decision-making in this case. A detailed description of the procedure and the decision-making process was also given in writing.”
The Department of Justice has been asked for comment.
https://www.independent.ie/news/woman-left-in-wheelchair-after-crash-still-waiting-on-compensation-seven-years-after-life-altering-injuries-41935811.html Woman left in wheelchair after accident, still awaiting compensation seven years after life-changing injuries