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Those who cause injury through their negligence have to take their victims 'as they find them'. That fundamental legal principle came into play in a case where an ambulance worker who breathed in poisonous gas in an ageing car, provided to her by her employer, won almost £280,000 in compensation.
When the woman arrived for her night shift, the only car that was available for her to drive had to be started with jump leads. There was a fault in the exhaust system and, during the following nine hours, carbon monoxide leaked into the car's interior. She was so badly poisoned that she had to be given oxygen and treated in hospital.
She has suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder in the five years since and, despite having made efforts to return to work, her employment as an ambulance 'solo responder' was eventually terminated. The London Ambulance Service NHS Trust admitted liability in full, but argued that not all her continuing symptoms could be blamed on the poisoning incident.
In ruling on the case, the High Court found that she was suffering from a significant and genuine psychiatric illness as a result of the incident. Although she already had a vulnerable personality, the incident was the 'straw that broke the camel's back'. She was awarded £279,998 in damages, including £28,000 in respect of her pain, suffering and loss of amenity.