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British Armed Forces – cold weather injuries


Further to the article written by Stephen Baker [Injured in the Course of Duty – 20th March 2012] we felt that it would be useful to provide some specific guidance for military personnel who have been injured by what we now commonly refer to as Non-Freezing Cold Injuries (NFCI).  These are complex cases in which we are experienced in successfully recovering compensation for injured personnel. If you’ve been diagnosed with a NFCI, and you’re seeking advice on making a claim, then you can help us to help you by thinking about the following issues outlined below.

What will I be asked about?

The following is a list of the questions we are likely to ask you should you seek advice regarding a NFCI claim.  The list is not exhaustive but it would be useful if you could give them some thought because it will potentially save valuable time and allow us to assess your claim quickly:


1. Where were you born and raised? [1]
2. When did you join the British Armed Forces?
3. Where and when did you complete your initial recruit training [Phase I & II]?
4. Did you receive any training in relation to NFCI during the Health & Hygiene element of basic training?
5. What were you doing when you first noticed the symptoms of NFCI?
6. What type of boots/gloves were you wearing when you experienced these symptoms?
7. Describe what symptoms you experienced both during any exercise and following it; i.e. cold hands/feet, numbness, pain in warm water, difficulties sleeping due to pain etc.
8. What was the outside air temperature at the time you felt these symptoms, for example, did the water freeze in your water bottle?
9. Were you static for any length of time, for example, on Guard Duty or in a trench?
10. Did you report these symptoms to a superior and if so what advice were you given?
11. Were you examined by a Medical Officer having reported these symptoms and what advice did they give you?
12. What happened after you had reported the symptoms and/or were reviewed by a Medical Officer? For example –a.     Were you issued with specialist ‘Cold Weather’ Boots/Gloves and, if so, when?b.    Were you medically downgraded?c.     Were you referred to the INM at Gosport for a specialist appointment and, if so, when and what advice did they give you?
13. Did you take part in any exercises, in similar cold weather conditions, after either reporting the symptoms, being examined by a Medical Officer or having an appointment at the INM?
14. What was the diagnosis made by the INM?
15. What effect did that diagnosis have on your Medical Category?
16. Have you attended a Medical Board regarding your continued fitness to serve in the British Armed Forces?
17. If you have been discharged on what grounds did that take place? i.e. Medical Discharge or Administrative Discharge?

Note [1] – the very first question in this guide asks where you were born and raised.  The reason for the question is that there are longstanding studies which show that Afro-Caribbean recruits are far more susceptible to the development of NFCI than Caucasian recruits and therefore the Ministry of Defence should be taking a far more proactive approach to providing training and equipment in this regard.

The above list might seem excessive but our experience shows that gathering as much information as possible will help us to succeed with your claim. If are unsure about some of the questions, you should still contact us as this doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to make a claim.

What do I do next?

We would like to help and can offer you advice on how to claim if you have been injured in the past three years.  If your injury or condition occurred more than three years ago we would still encourage you to contact us for advice.

Remember “You have nothing to lose and perhaps a lot to gain.”  If you or a family member have suffered this type of injury then please contact us on 0800 213214 or complete our simple on line enquiry form to discuss claiming compensation.

Alan Scott-Davies LLB (Hons)

Senior Legal Claims Advisor