Hugh James has recently recovered a six figure settlement of behalf of a former member of the British Army suffering with significant hearing loss, caused as a result of being exposed to significant levels of noise from weapons and military vehicles during service. This is another example of an increasing number of service men and women we are being asked to help, who have severe hearing problems even though they are in their 40s, 30’s and even 20’s.
Mr X enlisted in the Army in 1996, at the age of 17 with well-preserved hearing. During his training Mr X was exposed to noise from firing weapons such as SA80, LSW and GPMG. He was provided with Amplivox ear defenders which he alleged to be inadequate and unsuitable to use when on ranges and exercises.
Mr X completed his training after 6 months and underwent a medical, during which his hearing was graded H3:H2. Our client was held back while his hearing was investigated. During this time Mr X continued to be exposed to noise from weapons in the demo platoon. After around 2 months, Mr X was allowed to join his Unit.
In around July or August 1997 our client joined the 1st Battalion Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders unit as an infantry soldier. In around 2001, Mr X became a clerk in the Adjutant General Corps (AGC) and continued to serve in the AGC until his medical discharge in 2017.
During the course of his employment as an infantry soldier and a clerk within the AGC, Mr X spent long periods of time on firing ranges, while also taking part in APWT. Mr X travelled to many locations attending various firing ranges, training exercises and deployment.
When taking part in firing ranges Mr X wore ear defenders but unfortunately experienced some issues with them. Mr X could not hear orders being given whilst wearing them and was told to lift one away from his ear. Later on in his career, Mr X was provided yellow foam ear plugs when taking part in exercises and deployment but these often became loose and fell out.
Mr X was first downgraded for hearing loss in 2011 but was subsequently upgraded and posted to Germany in 2012. Shortly after being posted to Germany, he was downgraded again and issued hearing aids in 2013 at the age of 34. Mr X was permanently medically downgraded in 2014 and was subsequently medically discharged for hearing loss in 2017 in the rank of Sergeant.
Despite the Army knowing about Mr X’s noise induced hearing loss, they still sent him on firing ranges, training exercises and deployment that exposed him to excessive noise which continued to damage his hearing and caused him to suffer from tinnitus.
During his service, Mr X submitted a claim through the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme which was rejected on the basis that his injuries were sustained prior to 2005 and was advised that he would have to make a War Pension Scheme (WPS) claim once he had left service. Upon leaving service, he subsequently made a claim via WPS but, despite him being medically discharge for hearing loss, his claim was rejected because his hearing disability was not sufficient to meet the criteria to qualify for compensation.
Mr X experiences difficulties socialising in noisy surroundings and hearing the voices of young children, particularly when they were not facing him. He requires television volumes to be loud and frequently misses parts of conversations with his family. Tinnitus also interferes with his sleep.