The First Hall of the Civil Court yesterday awarded damages amounting to almost Lm60,000 to the heirs of a young woman killed in a traffic accident in 2000.

The judgment was delivered in the case filed by the woman's parents and siblings against the estate of the late Clayton Zarb, the driver in the accident.

Louis and Consolata, spouses Caruana, and their children filed their writ against Mr Zarb's estate. Micallef Insurance Agency Ltd later intervened in the litigation.

Plaintiffs claimed that Erika Caruana, who was their daughter and sister, had died in an accident on December 7, 2000, when the car driven by the late Mr Zarb had collided against a crash barrier in Great Siege Road, Valletta and ended up in the sea. Both driver and passenger died.

The court was asked to condemn defendants to make good the damages the plaintiffs had sustained as a result of the accident.

Mr Justice Tonio Mallia noted that the car involved in the accident was a Daihatsu Rocky jeep driven by Mr Zarb who, at the time, was 18 years old. Ms Caruana was also 18. Mr Zarb had been driving the car towards Valletta, where Ms Caruana lived, at 1 a.m.

While negotiating a bend, Mr Zarb lost control of the car which crashed against the railings on the side of the road, as a result of which the car was thrown into the sea.

The brake marks were about 45 metres long.

It resulted that Mr Zarb had died of asphyxia after drowning and Ms Caruana succumbed to a fractured skull.

The court-appointed experts had concluded that the vehicle had no defects that could have caused the accident and the court declared it had no hesitation in concluding that the accident was the result of negligent and possibly dangerous driving on Mr Zarb's part.

It was obvious that Mr Zarb had been driving at a great speed, and his estate was therefore to make good the damages sustained by Ms Caruana's heirs.

The court therefore declared that the insurance company, as representative of the estate of the late Mr Zarb, was to pay damages to Ms Caruana's heirs.

Mr Zarb's estate was ordered to pay plaintiffs Lm58,859.50 as damages.

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