Had to wait 12 years for justice with his life destroyed

Gonçalo Neves, also known as Tofu, became a paraplegic 12 years ago after a car accident left him in a vegetative state due to a traumatic brain injury. In true Portuguese style, the case dragged on in court for 12 (twelve!) years! Only now have they received compensation! And where is the other compensation for the 12 years of total hell, on all levels, psychological, financial, etc., that they went through…? It’s something that of course nobody cares about…

The following article is a translation. You can find the link to the original website at the end of it.

Compensation brought peace of mind to Tofu’s family but the marks remain forever

Gonçalo Neves, also known as Tofu, became paraplegic 12 years ago following a road accident.

The case dragged on in court and the parents, exhausted by the entire process, accepted compensation of around one million euros, an amount below what was initially established by the court. Parents say that money brought them peace and peace of mind, but the life before the accident is irrecoverable.

Waited 12 years for justice
Gonçalo Neves, also known as Tofu, is completely dependent on his parents with whom he lives in Alpiarça | © O MIRANTE

Compensation to the family of Gonçalo Neves, who suffered a road accident and was left in a vegetative state due to a traumatic brain injury, brought peace and peace of mind, but the marks of that tragic night, which changed their lives, are impossible to switch off. In May 2021 they received compensation of around one million euros after reaching an agreement with the company of the truck that collided with Gonçalo Neves’ car in the early hours of September 1, 2011, on Estrada Nacional 3, in Cartaxo, in a process that took ten years to resolve.

Tofu’s parents, Sandra Martins and Óscar Neves, paid the debts they incurred to care for their son after selling all their assets and mortgaging the family home.

Furthermore, they are building a single-story house in Almeirim that will be fully adapted to Gonçalo Neves’ condition and they are going to sell the house in Alpiarça where they have lived for 22 years. “With the compensation money we can have more peace of mind and we are doing everything so that when we are not here, Inês, Gonçalo’s sister, can take care of him without financial difficulties”, explains Sandra Martins to O MIRANTE.

Óscar Neves confesses that buying a car adapted for his son’s wheelchair gave them more freedom because they couldn’t leave the house as a family. “Last year we took Gonçalo to the beach, where we hadn’t been for 11 years. It was an indescribable feeling. Now we are no longer dependent on firefighters to go to the doctor or hospital,” he says. However, they confess, the limitations remain.

Gonçalo is completely dependent on his parents.

Life is the same but Tofu now has physiotherapy every day and the aim is to give him as much comfort as possible.

The parents confess that no amount of money in the world will bring them their son back.

“We would rather have our life before Gonçalo’s accident than the compensation money. Only those who go through this realize how difficult our daily lives are. We can’t plan anything because we don’t know how Gonçalo will wake up. It’s one day at a time and enjoying every moment”, they emphasize. Sandra Martins recalls that the compensation they asked for in court was higher than the amount they received, but they were so fed up and wanted to turn the page that they ended up accepting. “It was a very exhausting legal process with more setbacks than advances and which left us emotionally very low. We just wanted the process to end. It was done as much justice as possible”, he reinforces.

Process dragged on in court

After ten years waiting for justice, the parents of young Gonçalo Neves accepted the insurance company’s compensation proposal. In 2017 there was a decision by the Cartaxo Court to award compensation of more than one million euros to the young man’s family, residing in Alpiarça. Meanwhile, there were appeals and new steps, with the process threatening to drag itself out in court. In February 2021, the insurance company proposed paying compensation at a value below what had already been established by the court, which the family accepted.

Sandra Martins says that if the appeal was allowed to run and the Court of Appeal confirmed the first instance sentence there could still be another appeal to the Supreme Court, Constitutional Court and European Court, dragging out the process even further. Remember that there was a sentence handed down in 2017 in which the judge ordered the trucking company’s insurance company to pay compensation of more than one million euros,

but the family residing in Alpiarça never saw a cent at that time to which they were entitled.

Tofu dreamed of a military career

Gonçalo Neves, who celebrates his 33rd birthday on September 29th, suffered a serious car accident on September 1st 2011, leaving him in a vegetative state due to a traumatic brain injury. The parents never gave up on recovering their son and sought clinical answers in Portugal and Spain. The young man spent around three years in a clinic in Santiago de Compostela and showed some improvements. They had to return to Alpiarça when their savings ran out.

Tofu had been a volunteer soldier since April 2011 and wanted to join the Military Academy. At the end of August 2011 he went home for a few days. On the night of the accident he decided to go with a friend to Cartaxo but on the way back, around one o’clock in the morning, on Estrada Nacional 3, in the Vila Chã de Ourique area, they had a car accident involving a truck. The friend only broke a finger, and the collision with the heavy vehicle was all on the side of Gonçalo Neves, who was driving the vehicle.

A country where criminals and the powerful are systematically protected to the detriment of victims and its citizens is the definition of a dictatorship, which is why Portugal should leave the EU.


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