£350,000 Compensation in MOD Non Freezing Cold Injury Claim

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Gavin Hughes

Partner, Military Claims Solicitor

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Our client was a Lance Corporal, based in Coney Island, Hampshire, when he was exposed to cold, treacherous weather. Whilst working, he was suffering with pain in his hands and feet, where he was sent for an assessment at the Institute of Naval Medicine in Gosport, near Portsmouth. The findings were that he had a case of non freezing cold injury (NFCI) in his hands and feet, which is caused by a gradual, yet prolonged cooling of the hands or feet.

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To see how we can help you claim compensation for your non freezing cold injury, contact our military claims solicitors.

Our Clients Symptoms of Trench Foot

On the lead up to him contacting our specialist military accident team, our client had developed typical symptoms of NFCI, also known as trench foot. His symptoms included:

  • Pain
  • Numbness
  • Tingling and swelling

These symptoms affected his hands and feet, and first began during a leadership training course in the West Country, where he was exposed to many hours in the field. Those hours saw him in cold and wet conditions, which are the leading cause of this specific injury. During the training courses he wasn’t given any sufficient time to take respite in a warm environment, or was he offered to take hot showers and have a warm meal.

If untreated, a person’s feet can swell to 2 to 3 times their normal size and cause excruciating pain. Furthermore, their symptoms may become so severe that the only option is to have a foot amputation – luckily, for our client, this was not necessary.

Non Freezing Cold Injury was especially common during World War 1, when it was referred to as trench foot. Few injuries today will result in the kind of consequences seen by soldiers over 100 years ago, as prevention and injury management is more sophisticated, and in almost all cases, the after-effects are less extreme.

The main treatment for NFCI is to keep the affected areas warm and dry, which unfortunately, our client had not done due to his time allowances in the MoD. Alongside this, our client was also subjected along with his comrades to beastings, involving staying in very cold rivers for significant periods of time. Beastings are an uncomfortable ‘military tradition’, that are used as an important part of military training in order to ‘toughen up’ their soldiers.

Through all of this, our client had not been provided with a winter kit for the outdoor exercises, which are used to protect members of the MoD from the cold conditions.

Initially, our client did not realise he had suffered a non freezing cold injury, and thought that the symptoms were “par for the course”. However, as time went on, and the symptoms did not subside, he realised that he may have suffered an injury, and sought medical advice through his medical centre, leading to the testing at the Institute of Naval Medicine. There, the diagnosis of a non freezing cold injury in the hands and feet was given, proving that there was a need for him to seek advice from our team.

Unfortunately, our client was medically discharged whilst the litigation was ongoing; which is why he reached out to us to ensure his next steps were thoroughly thought about.

What is the Ministry of Defence’s Duty?

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has a duty of care to employees, so it’s legally required to limit the risk of Non Freezing Cold Injuries as much as possible. This means the MoD should:

      • Limit unnecessary exposure to cold conditions
      • Ensure personnel are equipped with the right equipment, such as suitable gloves and boots
      • Ensure personnel recognise the signs of Non Freezing Cold Injuries
      • Educate personnel about how to treat Non Freezing Cold Injuries
      • Diagnose and treat Non-Freezing Cold Injuries while they’re still at an early stage.

If the MoD fails to do this, it’s likely that necessary treatment will be delayed and you may experience permanent damage.

How We Helped our Client

Our Personal Injury Solicitor, Gavin Hughes, took a detailed witness statement from the client, setting out the conditions on the training course which had led to the non freezing cold injury.

An expert Vascular Surgeon was instructed to prepare a report for the case, who concluded that the non freezing cold injury had been suffered as a consequence of exposure to cold and wet on the training course, and that unfortunately the injury was unlikely to resolve. The medical expert recommended that the client should avoid exposure to cold conditions, which limited our clients career possibilities – thus damaging his ability to earn salary in a job he was used to.

Gavin also obtained a report from an expert employment consultant, to assist with calculating the claim for loss of financial earnings. The employment consultant managed to discuss possible alternative job options with our client, and he was able to map out how he wished his career to progress.

Our client planned to obtain qualifications to enable him to work as a heating engineer. The employment consultant provided details of projected earnings from salary, pension and other fringe benefits in the course of the full army career that the client hoped to pursue; and his anticipated earnings in his proposed career as a heating engineer.

This enabled Gavin and the client’s Barrister to prepare a schedule setting out the client’s financial losses, to present to the Ministry of Defence (MoD). A separate claim for personal injury compensation was also put forward, supported by the evidence of the Vascular Surgeon.

Initially, the MoD responded by denying liability – yet, after further communication with the MoD, an offer was finally made to compromise the case on a 75% / 25% basis, in the favour of our client. If accepted, this would have meant the client would have received 75% of his full entitlement to damages. On advice from Personal Injury Solicitor, Gavin Hughes, and the Barrister, the offer was not accepted.

What was the outcome for our client?

Following rejection of the offer, the MoD agreed to proceed with a joint settlement meeting, at which a negotiated settlement was agreed for our client to receive £350,000 compensation. Our client was extremely happy with this level of compensation, and though his livelihood took a turn that he didn’t foresee, he is now working in a good working environment for his requirements.

In the years of 2021 until 2022, there were 151 cases bought against the MoD for Non-Freezing Cold Injury; which has been increasing over the years. Though there is training in place to help prevent all injuries in the MoD, the elements are something that cannot always be avoided. If you’ve been diagnosed with this condition, or one that you believe is due to working in the Military, you should get legal advice from a Personal Injury Solicitor who specialises in Military Claims. Call us on 0808 239 1618, and we can offer free legal advice, and assess the details of your claim in a friendly and honest way.


Royal Navy. (Publication date not specified). "Institute of Naval Medicine." Available at: https://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/locations-and-operations/bases-and-stations/institute-of-naval-medicine.

National Army Museum. (Publication date not specified). "British Army Ranks." Available at: https://www.nam.ac.uk/explore/british-army-ranks

Simpson Millar LLP. (Publication date not specified). "Military Non-Freezing Cold Injury Claims." Available at: /personal-injury-solicitors/military-accident-claims/military-non-freezing-cold-injury-claims/.

Ministry of Defence. (Publication date not specified). "Individual's Guide to Preventing Cold Injury." Available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1125347/Annex_B_-_Individual_s_Guide_to_Preventing_Cold_Injury.pdf.

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Forces Network. (Publication date not specified). "Beasting: The Uncomfortable Military Tradition." Available at: https://www.forces.net/services/tri-service/beasting-uncomfortable-military-tradition.

GOV.UK. (Publication date not specified). "Ministry of Defence." Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/ministry-of-defence.

Vascular.org. (Publication date not specified). "What is a Vascular Surgeon?" Available at: https://vascular.org/patients-and-referring-physicians/common-questions/what-vascular-surgeon.

GOV.UK. (Publication date not specified). "MOD Common Law Compensation Claims Statistics 2021/22." Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/mod-common-law-compensation-claims-statistics-202122/mod-common-law-compensation-claims-statistics-202122.

Gavin Hughes

Partner, Military Claims Solicitor

Gavin is a Partner in our Personal Injury department and Head of the Military Accident and Injury Claims team. He also runs his own caseload of military personal injury cases.

Gavin shows a personal touch with his clients and works closely with them to achieve the best results.

He is a robust and determined litigator and has secured many six and seven-figure settlements for clients throughout his career.

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