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14 September 2023 | Case Study | Article by Nia-Wyn Evans

Cold Injury in the Armed Forces: A case study


Introduction

Cold injury, a condition resulting from prolonged exposure to cold and wet conditions, is a significant concern for military personnel, particularly those serving in the Armed Forces. This case study delves into the experience of a former British Army combat medical technician (CMT) who suffered cold injuries during his service. The study highlights the prevalence of cold injuries within the military, the circumstances leading to these injuries, and the subsequent impact on the individual’s life. The individual sought assistance from Hugh James’ specialist military team to address the consequences of his cold injury.

The case: Military background

The individual in question enlisted in the British Army in 2002 and underwent Basic Training in Winchester before undergoing Phase 2 Training as a combat medical technician. His service involved short-term detachments to various locations, including Bosnia, Kosovo, the Far East, Poland, Canada, and Belize. Throughout his service, he engaged in duties such as driving armoured medical vehicles, setting up mobile medical units, sentry duty, and vehicle maintenance checks, frequently being exposed to variable weather conditions.

Cold exposure incidents

The individual’s first encounter with cold exposure occurred during an exercise in Germany. Exposed to prolonged cold conditions, he experienced numbness and pain in his feet, leading to medical intervention. Despite receiving medication, the root cause of his condition was not adequately addressed. Subsequent exposures in Canada (British Army Training Unit Suffield), Bosnia, Kosovo, and Poland exposed him to similar symptoms, including numbness, pain, and tingling in both his hands and feet. Despite his medical training, he chose not to report these symptoms due to a belief that they were an inevitable part of his service. A concerning aspect of the case is the lack of follow-up and appropriate medical attention. Despite reporting symptoms, the individual’s condition was not fully assessed, and he was not referred to specialised clinics. This lack of comprehensive care perpetuated his condition and contributed to its long-term impact.

Life after the military

Upon leaving the Army, the individual pursued a career as an engineer but found that cold exposure continued to trigger his symptoms, affecting his ability to work and his overall quality of life. He exhibited cold sensitivity, making him susceptible to further cold injuries and limiting his employment opportunities. His experiences have also impacted his ability to enjoy outdoor activities during colder months.

The role of Hugh James’ specialist military team

The individual sought advice from Hugh James’ specialist military team to address the consequences of his preventable cold injury. The team’s expertise in military-related legal matters enabled them to advocate for compensation and support on his behalf. Their intervention has provided the individual with a sense of justice and recognition for the challenges he faced due to inadequate protection and medical care during his military service.

Conclusion

The case study sheds light on the occurrence of cold injuries within the Armed Forces and the detrimental impact they can have on individuals’ lives. It underscores the need for comprehensive medical care, appropriate cold weather gear, and awareness among military personnel about the significance of reporting symptoms. Furthermore, the case study emphasizes the role of legal specialists, such as Hugh James’ military team, in advocating for individuals who have suffered preventable injuries during their military service. This case study serves as a reminder of the importance of safeguarding the well-being of military personnel and ensuring their long-term health and quality of life.

Settlement

We were pleased to settle this claim for £45,000 gross, which our client was extremely happy with.

This settlement included an award for the cold injury itself, expenses incurred because of the cold injury, and an award to reflect the contingent future risk that our client may find himself on the open labour market for longer between jobs due to being unable to work in outdoor situations which may leave him exposed to cold and/or wet conditions.

Commenting on his case and working with Hugh James, the individual said,

“The team have been nothing short of excellent, I truly appreciate everything that has been done for me. The team talked me through everything and kept me up-to-date. I couldn’t be happier with what you have done.”

Solicitor Lloyd Pike who worked on the case commented:

“These are circumstances that we unfortunately see all too often. I am pleased we have been able to secure a settlement and compensation for our client’s preventable injury”

To get advice on whether you may be entitled to claim for a cold related injury, contact our specialist military team today.

Author bio

Nia-Wyn is a senior associate solicitor with Hugh James. She has specialised in representing military service personnel and veterans bring claims against the Ministry of Defence, with a particular interest in cold related injuries.

Disclaimer: The information on the Hugh James website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. If you would like to ensure the commentary reflects current legislation, case law or best practice, please contact the blog author.

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