Non-Freezing Cold Injury

Advice and Assistance from Cohen Cramer Solicitors

Military Non-Freezing Cold Injury Claim. If you have sustained injury and loss as a result of the development of a Non-Freezing Cold Injury (NFCI) (formerly known as trench foot) while on training or active service with the British Military, then you may be entitled to claim compensation.

NFCI, whilst the most common non-combat military injury, is easily preventable. Despite awareness of the causes and consequences, it is one of the most problematic conditions that can arise from military service and continues to be a significant cause of disease and non-battle injury (DNBI).

The causes of NFCI

Non-freezing cold injuries affect the hands and the feet. They are caused by exposure to wet conditions where the ambient air temperature is just above freezing, although it can be as high as 15c. The injury arises when your core temperature is below its normal level for any length of time.

The main causes are:

  • Improper/defective clothing and equipment
  • Wetness
  • Fatigue, exhaustion
  • Dehydration and poor food intake
  • Lack of knowledge of hypothermia
  • Failure of RMO to initiate appropriate treatment at the outset.

Symptoms of NFCI

After prolonged exposure, the cold reduces blood flow levels to bodily extremities, primarily the hands and feet. In turn, the reduction of oxygen causes the most common symptoms of:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Numbness
  • Paresthesia
  • Blisters
  • Chronic pain
  • Burning sensation
  • Itching

The MOD owes you a duty of care while a serving member of the military. This duty includes ensuring that you are not exposed to such conditions that can lead to NFCI.

In practice, the MOD needs to ensure that:

  • All personnel is issued with the appropriate kit and equipment such as boots, socks, and gloves.
  • All personnel are trained to recognise and report non freezing cold injuries.
  • Exposure to cold and wet conditions are reduced as much as possible.
  • Symptoms are recognised and treated with all due expediency.
  • Duties are adequately risk assessed to ensure minimal exposure to cold and wet once the condition has been diagnosed in an individual.

Consequences of NFCI

Non-Freezing Cold Injuries can have a devasting impact upon your military career and there have been many instances where it has resulted in a career being cut short. The lack of manual dexterity and pain can effectively prevent any further service. In more severe cases the condition can lead to amputation.

The development of NFCI can lead to a medical discharge with further difficulties in obtaining work thereafter.

If you have developed NFCI and suffered injury and loss as a result of such you may be entitled to compensation.

For a full assessment and overview of your claim get in touch with us today.

Your claim can be dealt with under a conditional fee agreement. This means that if your claim is not successful then, subject to compliance with our terms and conditions, you will not have to pay for the work we have done on your behalf.

What you can claim for your Military Non-Freezing Cold Injury Claim

As well as your physical injuries we will seek compensation for any mental trauma you may have sustained as a result of the incident.  In addition, we will seek compensation for any treatment or rehabilitation you may need due to the injuries sustained.

You may find your career has been compromised or even ended as a result of the injuries. In such an instance, we would recover past as well as future lost income.

You may have already had a claim, for NFCI, rejected by the AFCS or under the War Pension Scheme. This does not stop you from making a civil claim for compensation. Even if you received an award under the AFCS you can still bring a civil claim. If your civil claim is successful you will need to give credit for the AFCS payment from them up to a maximum of any compensation recovered under a civil claim as you cannot be compensated twice.

The AFCS payment is based upon a tariff system so a particular injury will attract a set level of damages. The system takes no account of the individual or any other losses and not all injuries qualify for a guaranteed income payment. NFCI does, in general, allow for the GIP and as such an award made under the AFCS can lead to long-term hardship if a career is cut short.

By bringing a civil claim you can recover compensation for aspects of loss that would otherwise be refused. Non-AFCS payments can include:

  • Loss of earnings
  • Loss of pension
  • Loss of service benefits
  • The additional cost of living such as utilities and non-military clothing
  • Possible prejudice on the job market due to injuries sustained
  • Pain and suffering in excess of the tariff system
  • Loss of congenial employment (compensation for having to leave a military career)

How long will my claim take?

There is no set answer to this as all claims are different.

The length of your claim will depend upon:

  • the circumstances of the incident
  • the extent of your injuries
  • how long it will take for recovery to take place.

When to bring your military non-freezing injury claim.

Like the majority of accident claims, you have three years from the date of the incident to bring your military non-freezing injury claim. If you only became aware that you had been injured sometime after the actual incident, then the three years run from that date. This is known as ‘the date of knowledge’.

The courts do have the discretion to extend this period but only in exceptional circumstances.

You can bring a claim while still serving. We would recommend that you brought your claim as soon as you are able to do so. Memories can fade, witnesses move on and evidence lost. Starting your claim soon after the incident gives you the best chance of success.

What will it cost me to bring my claim?

If we think that your claim has reasonable prospects of success, then we will be able to act on a no win – no fee basis. This means that if your claim is not successful then as long as you have complied with our terms and conditions, you will not be charged for the work we have done.

Start your claim today.

For a full assessment and overview of your claim get in touch with us today.



non-freezing cold injury claim