A woman who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder after escaping from her burning London flat has received more than £100,000 in compensation.
The woman, in her 30s, was lucky to escape the fire, which had started in a restaurant directly beneath the home she shared with her son and partner.
James Easson , of Fentons Personal Injury Solicitors LLP, said the woman's ordeal was nothing short of terrifying. "It was the evening, and she was alone in the flat watching television as her son and partner were away for the night," said James. "She first noticed a burning smell, like burning plastic, and began to feel dizzy, confused and very panicky. The room soon filled with acrid smoke and she could not work out where it was coming from.
"Visibility was very poor, and she became increasingly short of breath and was coughing from the smoke."
James said that as his client did not know the source of the fire she was unsure which exit to use to escape the flat. "She saw staff from the restaurant below standing on the pavement outside, but no-one shouted or tried to alert her to a fire. She had to make a quick decision whether to jump from one of the windows or leave through the door."
As visibility worsened and smoke continued to fill the flat, the woman fled from the flat through the front door wearing only her nightclothes. She managed to grab only a handbag on her way out, leaving all of her other items and possessions in her home.
"Flames shot from the restaurant extractor fan towards her as she made her escape, and she was terrified that the wooden staircase she had to use to reach safety might collapse," said James. "She was very disorientated but made it down the stairs and was taken straight to an ambulance. Covered in black soot and suffering breathing difficulties, she was treated with oxygen."
James said that for months afterwards the woman suffered with breathing difficulties and a bad cough. She was also struggling to sleep due to extreme anxiety, and suffered from panic attacks and flashbacks.
"My client displayed classic symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, but thankfully was astute enough to immediately seek medical attention," James said. "She had nightmares whenever she managed to sleep, and found herself constantly reliving the event. She would regularly wake up in a panicked state, choking. When she began having suicidal thoughts she took herself straight to her local hospital for help."