Ambulance worker who got PTSD after exposed to fumes wins £280,000 damages

An ambulance service worker who developed a psychiatric condition after she was exposed to carbon monoxide poisoning during her shift has won £279,998 High Court damages.

Solo responder Diane Kennedy, who had been employed by the London Ambulance Service (LAS) for 10 years, returned to the depot in April 2011 feeling unwell and nauseous.

Mrs Kennedy, 43, of Eccles, Kent, was kept in hospital overnight and remained employed by LAS until April 2015 but has not worked since June 2014.

London Ambulance Service NHS Trust admitted liability after it was discovered there was an undetected fault on the vehicle’s exhaust system which caused harmful fumes to leak into the driver’s compartment.

However, it disputed the amount of the award, questioning whether Mrs Kennedy’s post traumatic stress disorder was caused by the poisoning.

It claimed she had an underlying vulnerability and there were other stresses in her life which explained her symptoms.

After a hearing in London, Judge Peter Hughes ruled that the mother-of-three developed PTSD as a result of the experience, continued to suffer from the condition and, with appropriate treatment, should be able to return to less-stressful work in about two years.

He said that she was plainly a person with a significant and genuine psychiatric illness.

It was significant, he added, that she had demonstrated the fortitude in the past to cope with other stress factors in her life and she also did so after her return to work in September 2011.

“In my judgment, the claimant’s condition is properly classified as PTSD consequent on the carbon monoxide poisoning incident.

“What is unfortunate is that her symptoms have become entrenched and are likely to have been prolonged and exacerbated by the uncertainty of litigation.”

The compensation included sums for pain and suffering, past and future loss of earnings, care and assistance and loss of pension.

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