If you are serving in the military, you will have on many occasions been exposed to cold conditions for a long time.

The military arranges cold weather training on an annual basis, however, they should make sure you have the adequate equipment to reduce your risk of suffering a non-freezing cold injury.

Below, our military injury expert, Trevor Hall, offers an insight into non-freezing cold injuries and what to do if you suffer a non-freezing cold injury while training.

What is a non-freezing cold injury?

A cold injury can occur when the body’s core temperature falls below a certain level for a long period.

The signs and symptoms of non-freezing cold injury are numbness, pins and needles, and pain on rewarming in the individual’s hands and feet. The pain can last for an extended period and after the first contraction of non-freezing cold injury, there is an increased sensitivity to the cold.

Non-freezing cold injuries can vary in sensitivity but the injured individual should be protected from the cold or risk making the symptoms worse.

What is the MOD’s responsibility?

The military must protect service personnel from sustaining cold injuries by ensuring that exercise is carried out safely and at appropriate temperatures, by providing adequate clothing and training, and evacuating when symptoms are reported. In my significant experience of dealing with non-freezing cold injuries, these duties are not always met.

What are the long-term consequences of a non-freezing cold injury?

The symptoms of non-freezing cold injury will often be permanent as the individual will always be sensitive to the cold temperatures, and at significant risk of further cold injuries if exposed to cold conditions. The individual should be protected from the cold, which makes continued service in the military very unlikely.

What to do if you have a non-freezing cold injury

If you have or believe you have a cold injury, then I would suggest you take the following actions:

  • Report your symptoms to your chain of command and medical officer as soon as possible
  • Ensure that the medical officer refers you to the Institute of Naval Medicine for testing and treatment
  • Make sure that you are adequately protected from the cold and that your medical officer puts restrictions on your work
  • Urgently seek legal advice about bringing a civil claim against the MOD. The Limitation Act 1980 provides that individuals must issue court proceedings within three years of the date that they first experienced symptoms which they had reasonable grounds were caused by their work or negligence of a third party. The date by which court proceedings in cold injury cases must be started is not always straight forward and it is best to move quickly otherwise the MOD will try to argue that you are out of time
  • Bring an Armed Forces Compensation Scheme. You have seven years to bring a claim from the time you are first injured.

Our experience of non-freezing cold injuries

Thompsons has long-standing expertise dealing with military injury claims and securing high-levels of compensation for members of the Armed Forces. I, personally, have dealt with well over 100 claims for non-freezing cold injuries, with the majority settling for six-figure settlements.

Contact us for support

If you have suffered a non-freezing cold injury while serving in the military, get in touch for legal advice about making a claim. Contact us on 0800 224 224 or complete our online claim form. Alternatively, visit our cold injury claims page for more information.