Former British Army Gurkha Soldier wins case against the Ministry of Defence23 November 2016
Serviceman suffered a devastating brain injury during training programme
A former British Army Gurkha Soldier has been successful in a claim for damages at the High Court against the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for a brain injury sustained when engaging in military adventurous training.
The Serviceman taking part in a horse riding training programme in Canada as part of his military service in summer 2010. On the first day of five days of training, he was required to work closely with a horse and, despite having never had any previous equine experience beyond limited training, he was tasked with grooming it and cleaning its hooves. There was an absence of any one-to-one supervision.
During attempts to perform his duties, the horse kicked out and struck him in his head, causing a devastating brain injury which continues to affect him today.
The MoD initially argued that the Canadian provider of the training should be included in the proceedings, as an attempt to deflect or share out the responsibility for the injury but the MoD’s arguments were fervently opposed before a High Court Judge.
The MoD then sought to have the claim subject to Canadian law rather than the UK standards under his military service contract. A lengthy hearing took place in the High Court for which Canadian legal opinion was sought, but the arguments were once again rejected.
A High Court trial expected to last five days was due to commence on 22 August. Ahead of the trial, the MoD attended a settlement meeting offered by and his solicitors but the MoD failed to make any offer. However, the MoD has since accepted it breached the duty of care and agreed to pay him compensation.
The cynical attempts at buck passing by the MoD delayed the case and prevented him from being able to receive interim compensation that could have helped him with support and treatment.
Thompsons successfully opposed the MoD trying to pass on or share the blame. The Serviceman will now receive interim damages to fund his rehabilitation before the case goes before the Court to determine the total damages he should be awarded.
The Serviceman said: “I always accepted that I could be injured when on operations for the Army but I did not expect to suffer such a life-changing injury during training. I thought I was going to have a full career in the Army but that has now been taken away from me.
“It has been a long road to get to this point but I am so very grateful for the support which Thompsons Solicitors have provided to me, every step of the way.”
David Robinson, a military accident specialist solicitor at Thompsons Solicitors, said: “The MoD’s attitude throughout this case has been disgraceful. They have wasted tax payers' money by deliberately stalling, trying to pass the buck and taking us to a settlement meeting with no instructions to settle.
“My client has been left without support and treatment since being discharged from the Army in 2012, despite having a serious brain injury. Finally, the MoD will pay out for the suffering caused.
“The MoD’s safety culture is a major cause of concern, it would shame any major company in the UK. There are simply too many examples of military personnel sustaining catastrophic injuries in preventable accidents. A radical overhaul of the MoD’s internal safety policies and procedures is urgently required to ensure our brave service personnel are afforded the most basic of protections, on operations but also in training.”
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