£175,000 award for injured soldier
I acted recently for a former member of the armed forces who was injured during military training resulting in the loss of his service career.
My client, from Nigeria, had passed out of basic training and was looking forward to a promising career in the infantry as a rifleman. As part of pre-deployment training for operations in Afghanistan, he was ordered to take part in an exercise in freezing conditions. Being from Nigeria he had a predisposition to developing non-freezing cold injury (NFCI) which he went on to suffer.
NFCI is a known condition affecting primarily the hands and feet following cold exposure. It results in cold intolerance and permanent neurological damage to the extremities including loss of sensation, unwanted symptoms of pins and needles, and pain. There is no cure. Sufferers are warned to limit outdoor activity and cold exposure, and are often prescribed medication to reduce symptoms and improve sleep.
The Ministry of Defence sought to argue that my client had a lax attitude to the use of his equipment, that he did not have the aptitude for soldiering and that his post-service career extinguished many of his ongoing losses in any event.
The evidence showed by client was issued with summer expedition boots on exercise in freezing conditions resulting in cold injury to his feet. We pointed to my client’s appraisals following a change of roles in service which said his prospects of succeeding were good. While accepting his future lost earnings were limited, because he retrained and was likely to earn a comparable a salary in a civilian role, we claimed for the loss of my client’s pension which would have been valuable had he remained in service.
Following a settlement meeting between the parties, we agreed that my client should receive damages for his injury, his lost earnings since leaving service, the loss of his additional benefits since leaving service and part of his pension loss. He also recovered damages for care, and domestic assistance with gardening and DIY because of his reduced ability to do such tasks owing to his injury.
These claims can be difficult, especially when there is conflicting expert evidence about prospects of promotion and length of service in any event. That said, my client achieved a good result, and it was justly deserved given what had been taken from him.