Army Officer wins Military Accident Claim

Army Officer wins Military Accident Claim

The Irwin Mitchell Armed Forces Compensation Claims Team successfully represented an Army officer who had been told that he had to show his troops he was not scared and it would be "bad form" if he didn't jump from a bridge during a training exercise in Germany, appeal court judges were told.

Appeal Court judges upheld his right to compensation for the catastrophic injuries he suffered when he leapt from the bridge over the Okerstausee reservoir, in the Harz nature reserve, where he and his men were on an adventure training exercise.

Mr Radclyffe was left paraplegic after he hit the water with his knees bent.

President of the Queen's Bench Division, Sir Anthony May, said the Captain in charge on the day of the accident had told Lt. Radclyffe it was important for him to show his courage to the men and it would be "bad form" not to join them in jumping off the bridge.

The Captain "urged him to jump" saying that, if he refused to leap into the void he would be "lowered in the eyes of the men and more senior officers".

Local people and several soldiers had already taken the plunge, with the Captain's permission and, despite his reservations, Lt. Radclyffe, who was new to the unit, felt he had to make the jump.

Following his Sandhurst training, he believed he was on duty and the judge said there was "huge pressure on him" to prove that he was "as brave as the men".

The MoD denied liability in the case, insisting that Lt. Radclyffe was off duty at the time and was "the voluntary author of his own misfortune".

However, Sir Anthony, sitting with Lord Justice Hooper and Lord Justice Sullivan, pointed to Lt. Radclyffe's Sandhurst training and the words spoken to him by his senior officer.

The young officer, the judge added, was under "considerable pressure" to take the plunge, even though it was obviously dangerous, and it was "not solely his own freely made decision".

Having now successfully established liability the Irwin Mitchell Armed Forces Claims Team was able to secure a substantial interim payment for the client. Negotiations with the MoD are now on-going to try and agree the level of damages that Lt Radclyffe will finally receive for his severe injuries as a result of this Military Accident.

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