LONDON — A couple in the United Kingdom is being sued by an ambulanceman who twisted his ankle on their driveway while responding to an emergency call.
Joan Boardman’s husband James, 83, dialed 999 as she was suffering a suspected angina attack in their living room. Two ambulance staff began tending to her before one of them, Stephen Canning, went back out to fetch a stretcher.
As he returned towards the front door a security light that had been shining on the drive cut out and he lost his balance and fell awkwardly.
His shouts of pain from damaging ligaments in his left ankle alerted his colleague who summoned a further two ambulances.
One took Mr Canning to the local hospital and the other conveyed Mrs Boardman, 82, to a specialist heart unit 15 miles away.
She was allowed home after a thorough check, but had another scare a few months later when a solicitor’s letter dropped through the letter box.
It informed the couple, from Louth, Lincs, that Mr Canning was seeking undisclosed damages from them for loss of earnings. He lodged the personal injury claim after discovering he was not covered by the ambulance service’s insurance because he was not in the ambulance at the time.
Mrs Boardman, a great grandmother, who suffered a heart attack two years ago, said: “I thought the letter was a joke at first but both myself and my husband fail to see how we could be at fault for his accident.
“The security light may have switched itself off but the driveway was hardly shrouded in darkness. The porch light was still on, as were the street lights and the ambulance had been left open so there was the light from that.
“If anything, it should be me that feels aggrieved because his accident meant I had to wait for two ambulances to come from Mablethorpe.”
Her husband, who served in the 5th Royal Enniskillen Dragoon Guards in the Second World War, described the threat of legal action as “morally wrong”. Mr Boardman added: “It has left a very sour taste in the mouth. My wife has been very stressed about it and has been in hospital this week.
“We are now reluctant to call the public services and this has brought into disrepute an organisation which I’ve got the greatest admiration for.”
Mr Canning has made no comment on the claim and East Midlands Ambulance Service said he was pursuing the matter in his own right, but he has received the backing of his union.
In the letter to the Boardmans, solicitors Wilkin Chapman state: “The reason why we are alleging fault is that the security light was either faulty because of a lack of maintenance or had not been programmed correctly in that the light was not on for sufficient time to allow someone to walk along the driveway and reach the front door.“Furthermore the drop from the level of the driveway down to the adjoining pathway is itself dangerous. As a result of the accident, our client sustained an injury to his left ankle with a possible fracture to the cuboid bone and at the very least severe ligament damage.”