Following the road accident - a head-on collision between a passenger vehicle and a heavy goods vehicle that occurred on April 7 of that year, on Estrada Nacional (EN) 378, between Fogueteiro and Sesimbra, in the district of Setúbal -, the young woman Andreia Rocha, aged 23 at the time, suffered serious injuries that disabled her for the rest of her life.
The authors of the compensation claim to the German brand, Andreia Rocha and her mother, Eduarda Farias, allege that the vehicle's airbag system did not work as expected.
In the ruling, dated September 28th, to which the Lusa agency had access, the Supreme Court of Justice (STJ) considers that Audi did not correctly inform buyers about the operation of the 'airbags' that equip the brand's cars.
“It can be concluded that these 'airbags' were designed to inflate in situations of collision between light vehicles and light vehicles, but not if the collision occurs with larger vehicles, such as the truck that collided with the vehicle driven by the author”, the sentence reads.
“Its [Audi] airbags will not have the potential to protect the driver and passengers in collisions like the one that occurred in these cars, but this information was systematically and seriously omitted from the consumer, who often paid much more for this equipment, when it was optional, under the illusion that it generally provided safety in the event of a collision”, highlights the court.
For the STJ, the defect of the airbags “is proven” and “was even verified by analyzing the vehicle, which states that the airbag was not activated and does not present any functional deficiencies, even after the accident had occurred”.
“The defect consists of the ‘airbag’ not functioning in the event of a frontal and side collision between a light vehicle and a truck with a large impact that destroyed the vehicle driven by the author and significantly destroyed her life”, he adds.
The sentence also highlights that “if the 'airbags' do not work in these collisions, it cannot be advertised by the producer that they work generally in cases of collision, as the car's manual says, and the situations for which the airbag was designed must be specified.”
In the civil case, which began in the Sesimbra Court but moved to Setúbal, following the judicial reform, Eduarda Farias and her daughter claimed compensation of 1.2 million euros and an annual pension of 10,000 euros, plus 406, 92 euros per month for Andreia Rocha's medication, high amounts considering the history of compensation awarded in similar cases in Portugal.
In the first instance trial, Audi AG had been acquitted, but the authors of the civil action appealed to the Évora Court of Appeal, which ordered the German brand to pay compensation of 105,000 euros.
Dissatisfied with this amount, the lawyer for the authors of the compensation claim, Suzana Garcia, filed a new appeal with the STJ, which almost doubled the amount established by the Évora Relation, setting the amount to be paid by Audi at 200,000 euros, plus interest.