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If you have suffered more than a minor Non-Freezing Cold Injury (NFCI) during your military service, there is a strong likelihood that you will be medically downgraded and, in due course, medically discharged.

The MOD has known for several decades that those of Afro-Caribbean ethnicity are at high risk of developing NFCI symptoms and, whilst the Army has tried to educate its troops about the known risk of an NFCI, in the last decade more than 500 negligence claims have been brought against the MOD for NFCIs.  On average, around 50 a year and most, but not all, are suffered by troops recruited traditionally from Commonwealth countries.

Why can I claim?

Our troops will face the harshest of conditions during training.  There is very good reason for this.  They are training for battle.  It’s often said that ‘if it isn’t raining, it isn’t training’.  Military exercises must mimic battle conditions as far as reasonably possible.

However, our Commanders and NCOs know that some of the troops under their command have a genetic disposition to NFCIs and simple precautions need to be taken to reduce the risk of them developing the condition whilst out in the field. If you fail to monitor the health of the troops under your command, you will miss the warning signs and they won’t even get to the start line.

Common problems stem from:

  • Failing to adequately train troops in the dangers of NFCI
  • Failing to conduct regular foot inspections
  • Failing to enforce sock changes
  • Failing to assess/review/monitor weather conditions – more often than not Commanders are reluctant to act during severe (hot or cold) weather for fear of reprimand
  • Failing to provide adequate shelter
  • Failing to listen to complaints from their troops – albeit few actually complain. ‘Man up!’ is the common response

NFCI – Is this a real ‘injury’?

Ask that question of someone who lives his life with the condition.  With an NFCI, the nerves in the hands and feet may have been permanently damaged by prolonged, negligent exposure, to extreme cold and wet climatic conditions.  This then results in an increased sensitivity to cold. The sufferer will experience debilitating pain, every hour, of every day; more so in the winter.

A sufferer will be prescribed daily medication to help ward off pain and discomfort and they must keep wrapped up warm, use footbaths, have the heating turned up and avoid repeat exposures to the cold and wet.

For the vast majority, an NFCI is a career ending injury because they are no longer able to soldier.  For a young soldier who has migrated to the UK to serve, this is a devastating outcome, and many become depressed and suffer mental disorders because of their pain and loss of career.

What can I claim?

The MOD already make small lump sum awards of around £6,000 – £10,800 through the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme but unfortunately, that level of award does not attract a Guaranteed Income Payment (GIP).  It follows that if you are medically discharged for an NFCI, your personal injury claim will be worth considerably more than someone who isn’t discharged.

If a Claimant can prove that their commanders have negligently caused them to develop an NFCI, then the MOD will eventually pay damages. We have secured lump sum personal injury damages awards of more than £500,000 for career ending NFCI’s.



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Army Reservist seriously injured during Adventure Training

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"I actually had met with a couple of different solicitors before I met Grant, but as soon as I met with Grant he put me at ease and I knew I wanted him to help me. I was facing a huge and incredibly daunting journey into an intimidating world I didn’t understand. He was very professional, and I completely trusted his advice but he was also very easy to get on with, very friendly and approachable. Although it was a long and emotional process, it really felt as though Grant was there fighting my corner at every turn and everything felt more manageable because of him. He was always there to lift me up during the hard times and was genuinely there to celebrate with us for the good. Grant is now a very good friend of mine, and me and Amy just want him to know how thankful we are that he helped us draw a line under what could have been a very negative time in my life and helped lay the foundations to move so far away from being stuck in my hospital bed to a life I love living."

By Chris Feeley

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