Non Freezing Cold Injury (NFCI), or sometimes known as “Trench Foot” or Cold Weather Injury can occur to feet and hands and is the most common form of Military injury suffered on military exercise in the UK. Despite the advances in clothing technology this remains a serious problem for the Ministry of Defence.
The affected will usually have been cold and wet for a sustained period of time, often having been unable to dry satisfactorily. A difference will notice on re-warming when it becomes apparent that the feet have altered sensation. There is often a period of paleness followed by redness, swelling and pain. The residual effects of the injury can last for many months and in the worst cases be permanent, resulting in the loss of a career.
Even after the initial injury, there is often a permanent increased sensitivity to cold. All are at risk, however, and statistics and studies show that soldiers of Afro/Caribbean descent are many times more susceptible to NFCI. Smokers are also at an increased risk. Most cases will occur in the UK or northwest Europe, but instances have also occurred in the winters of Iraq and Afghanistan. We realise that due to the nature of the symptoms diagnosis can often be a significant period of time after the event. In fact, even when diagnosed by a medical expert, an appointment at the Cold Injury Clinic will not normally happen for a minimum period of 3 months to allow the injury “to mature”.
All those who are diagnosed with NFCI should be placed on restricted employment and sheltered from cold and damp conditions and it will be unlikely to be able to play sport or, if a servicing member of the Armed Forces, be fully deployed.
Hilary Meredith Solicitors Ltd is one of the few Solicitors who specialise in this type of personal injury. We are experienced in pursuing NFCI cases to final Court hearings and settling at round table meetings with representatives of the MOD and other organisations.
Strict time limits apply to this type of claim, as with all personal injury claims and it is vital that you obtain prompt legal advice. In particular, if you are facing a medical discharge or a decision about your career, it is vital that you obtain prompt and specialist advice.
We can even help you with medical investigations and, if a serving member of the Armed Forces, with an application under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme.
To discuss your claim free of charge with our award winning team contact us on 0800 124 4444 or start your claim now.
In addition to a legal claim for compensation you may be able to make a claim under the non fault Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS) which covers all regular and reserve personnel whose injury, ill health or death was caused by service on or after the 6th April 2005.
Due to our experience of dealing with NFCIs, especially within the Military, we have compiled a list of recommendations for those who may be due to serve in conditions that could give rise to NFCI:
HOW TO PREVENT NON-FREEZING COLD INJURIES
- Limit exposure
- Keep feet and hands as dry as possible
- Regular hot food and drink
- Early recognition of symptoms, evacuation and treatment
- Report incidents properly to help identify clusters of cases
- Most importantly, be aware of the early signs of cold injury