Before 1987, the Crown Proceedings Act 1947 prevented military personnel from making personal injury claims against the Crown.
The Crown Proceedings (Armed Forces) Act 1987 has suspended that rule and since 15th May 1987, much the same as employees in normal jobs, military personnel, who have sustained injury during service, can claim compensation if the MOD has failed in its legal duty of care or health and safety practices. Such a breach may include providing defective equipment when on a training exercise, or engaging in an unsafe practice.
The primary exception to this rule is the doctrine of combat immunity. This means that no common law liability for negligence in respect of acts or omissions by those directly engaged in armed combat can be brought against the Crown. Or in laymen’s terms there is no duty on the MOD to maintain a safe system of work on the battlefield.
The scope of combat immunity was recently debated in the case of Smith v Ministry of Defence . The presiding judges believed that the scope of combat immunity should be construed narrowly; the extension of the immunity from genuine armed combat to failures in training, pre deployment or in theatre training, or the provision of technology and equipment should not be permitted.
In summary, unless the injury is sustained directly during active combat an injury claim can always be considered.
We understand that a career in the armed forces is more than just a job and deciding to pursue a personal injury claim against the MOD can be an intimidating prospect, especially if it is still the employer.
However, in light of the above information a member of the armed forces now has the legal right to make a civil claim for compensation if they have been affected or injured, including Noise Induced Hearing Loss.
For obvious reasons, Noise Induced Hearing Loss is a particular problem in the military and is affecting an increased number of service men and women. The rest of this article is aimed at providing military personnel, especially those based in aircraft maintenance, construction or jobs involving machinery, further information about the disease.
Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) is damage to the inner ear primarily caused by continuous exposure to excessive noise. It can also be caused by a one-time high intensity sound, like an explosion, this is known as acoustic shock.
NIHL can often cause irreversible damage to the ears. The main symptoms of NIHL can range from a significant hearing loss to partial or complete deafness. Exposure to high levels of noise can also cause tinnitus, which is a buzzing or ringing noise in the ears. The longer the exposure to excessive noise the greater the risk of permanent damage.
Military personnel do not typically notice symptoms of NIHL until they have returned from deployment or active duty. In fact many people do not realise that they have been affected until later in life or until they have been informed by medically trained personnel. This is because NIHL is generally a gradual degenerative disease that becomes more apparent with age. People who suffer from NIHL advised that sound can become dulled and that they struggle to hear conversations properly.
The law imposes a duty on every employer, including the MOD, to risk assess noise levels and take reasonable steps to reduce any noise considered excessive; to provide appropriate safety equipment and sufficient training; and to enforce the use of suitable hearing protection where necessary.
If you have worked in a noisy environment, consider the following questions: was sufficient hearing protection made available, was that hearing protection compatible with certain headsets, did the hearing protection allow for the hearing of commands, were you trained and encouraged to use the hearing protection?
If you are a member of the Armed Forces, suffer from hearing problems, and have been employed in a noisy environment after 15 May 1987 you may be entitled to claim.
Harwood Solicitors specialise in handling no win no fee Noise Induced Hearing Loss claims -we will take care of everything.
If you think you, or someone you know, has been affected by Noise Induced Hearing Loss and would like expert advice on this type of case, contact Harwood Solicitors today on 01254 505090 or email