Posted on 8.2.19
Gary Boyd, Head of Military & Serious Sports Injury Claims at Gorvins, has written an article for The Times this week testifying how loyal soldiers can be their own worst enemy.
Gary states ‘Our military personnel and veterans are sources of national pride and collective gratitude. Quite justifiably they are frequently praised for their stoicism and loyalty.’
Yet, with his expertise in military law, Gary frequently finds that this same stoicism and loyalty can work to their detriment, for such character traits may go some way to explaining the unwillingness of servicemen and women to make a civil personal injury claim. With these inherently reluctant litigants often waiting until long after hanging up their uniforms before considering taking legal advice over injuries suffered during their time in the military.
As a result, many military personal who delay seeking legal redress are left to suffer the consequences of injuries sustained in service, losing out on the compensation or rehabilitation that could be secured for them.
‘In one recent case’ says Gary ‘a veteran approached me to inquire about pursuing a claim in relation to injuries that had left him almost immobile, in constant pain and on heavy medication. He had refrained from reporting his injuries at the time for fear of medical downgrading and discharge, and so his surgical treatment had been hindered, exacerbating his situation.
Unfortunately, a review of his records revealed that his injuries were suffered more than three years before he instructed us. He had become a victim of his own stoicism.’
Regimental loyalty, however, goes only part of the way to explain the reluctance of military personnel to make a claim.
Some want to believe that they will get better and so avoid medical downgrading or medical discharge, Gary suggests. Others don’t report injuries or pursue claims at all, because they want to avoid bullying or harassment — something that can be rife in the military and seems to be visited most frequently upon Commonwealth soldiers suffering from non-freezing cold injuries (NFCIs). A number of my NFCI clients have reported disturbing, seemingly racially motivated bullying and harassment, generally from peers or low-ranking officers. Such treatment can then form part of the claims.
‘We may expect the military to show grit, endurance, courage and resilience in the course of duty, but they shouldn’t be left to rely on such qualities when they have every right to make a claim. Particularly when the consequences of injuries can be all the more severe.’ Concludes Gary.