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9 May 2022 | Case Study | Article by Nia-Wyn Evans

Soldier medically discharged for non-freezing cold injury suffered in training

Our client, Mr TB sustained a non-freezing cold injury (‘NFCI’) in his hands and feet as a result of cold exposure in February 2014. He has suffered from pain, swelling, numbness and pins and needles. He will be cold sensitised for the rest of his life.

Mr TB was described as an ambitious solider who joined the army as soon as it was possible but unfortunately at the age of just 21, he was medically downgraded and then discharged from the Army.

Mr TB spent a week on exercise in Otterburn as part of basic training. It snowed intermittently, was cold, wet and windy. No adequate training as to NFCI prevention was provided. He was told to pack light (no spare clothes) was not allowed to purchase his own kit as this was the ‘basic training policy’. Mr TB states that he was told that he was being trained to be a basic soldier and for that reason he had to use his issued basic kit.

The exercise included wading through a river and sleeping out in the slept outside in a sleeping bag. Once the kit was wet, it would take time to dry and there was not the opportunity to change clothing. At the end of the exercise, Mr TB was told they would be picked up by lorries. However, the lorries did not arrive for several hours. In this time Mr TB was exposed to windy, cold conditions, whilst wet without access to his dry kit. He started experiencing pain to his feet whilst waiting in the field for the lorries.

Mr TB then spent a week in Kirkcudbright where whilst on training, it snowed, was cold, wet and windy. He was exposed to minus temperatures and was cold and wet throughout the exercise. Mr TB stayed in a hangar, which was incredibly cold as it had no heating. Near the end of the exercise, he recalls waking up and not being able to walk. Mr TB was seen by the medic who stated there was nothing wrong with him and he was sent back out on exercise.

Over the remainder of the exercise, symptoms in his feet deteriorated until he was suffering from severe pain and numbness in his feet and had difficulty walking. His captain noted he was not able to walk and sent him back to the medic. The medic then put him on light duties.

Mr TB was further exposed to cold and wet conditions in Harrogate. He was taking part in an assault course involving water and remembers that the instructors were making recruits crawl through freezing cold water. As he was crawling, he remembers the pain returning in his feet immediately. He was admitted to the medical centre at Harrogate for four days where he was bedded down.

Over four years he was repeatedly exposed to cold and wet conditions causing him to suffer symptoms of pain, numbness and pins and needles in his hands and feet. He was eventually medically discharged in August 2018.

Mr TB states, “When I was told that I was going to be medically discharged from service, it suddenly dawned on me that my injuries had ended my prospects in service and was going to influence my future career, I was devastated.”

Following an unsuccessful AFCS claim, Mr TB contacted our specialist military team who helped him through his claim and gained supportive evidence to support his case.

The MoD later conceded breach of duty and limitation, Mr TB was awarded £400,000 gross for this NFCI claim.

Nia-Wyn Evans, Senior Associate in the military claims team, comments on Mr TB’s case:

“Mr TB was in the early years of his military service; it is such a shame that his service was cut short due to his preventable cold injury and medical discharge. This injury continues to impact Mr TB and prevents him from securing outdoor employment and enjoy hobbies that trigger his symptoms. I am pleased that we have been able to secure employment to compensate him for his injuries and the impact they have had and will continue to have on his life.”

If you suffer from a cold injury due to serving in the Military, you may be entitled to compensation. Get in touch with our specialist military solicitors 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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