A woman who suffered psychiatric injury after being exposed to harmful chemicals during the course of her duties as a member of the London Ambulance Service (LAS) has secured a six figure award of damages from the High Court with the help of Thompsons Solicitors. 

Diane Kennedy, 43, from Eccles in Kent, had worked for the London Ambulance Service (LAS) as a solo responder for 10 years when she suffered carbon monoxide poisoning as a result of a defective vehicle in April 2011. 

Diane arrived at the LAS depot for a night shift but was told that the only car available to drive was a Vauxhall Astra which it was known had needed to be jump started on several occasions. Setting out on her shift in this faulty vehicle led Diane to be exposed to carbon monoxide for nine hours, as a fault in the exhaust system caused gas to seep into the driver’s compartment. 

Feeling nauseous and dizzy, Diane went to accident and emergency where she was diagnosed with carbon monoxide poisoning. Following the incident, she developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and eventually left her job in 2015 as a result. She continues to suffer from the disorder. 

LAS NHS Trust admitted liability for the ambulance leaking carbon monoxide into the driver’s compartment, however disputed that exposure to the gas – which can be fatal - was the cause of Diane’s psychiatric condition. 

However, with support from Thompsons Solicitors, Diane pursued her case and a High Court judge ultimately ruled in her favour, ordering a six-figure settlement to be paid. 

Diane, who is still receiving treatment for her PTSD, said: “I mentioned concerns about the vehicle on several occasions, but nothing was done. I never wanted to drive the ambulance that night because it was clear the car was seriously faulty, and now permanent damage has been done. 

“The worst part is that my employer put me through five years of hell by denying they’d done anything wrong. Thompsons and my union were faultless from start to finish - they gave me my life back. I am now focusing on my recovery, and the settlement they secured for me will go toward my treatment.” 

Kam Singh, a serious injury specialist at Thompsons Solicitors who represented Diane said: “My client’s life has been irreversibly damaged because her employer did not carry out basic safety checks on their vehicles. This is unacceptable in any work-scenario but it is especially concerning given that these vehicles are intended to ensure the safe transport of people whose health and lives are in danger.”