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Ex-Serviceman Instructs Lawyers After Losing Leg In Tug-Of-War Event In Afghanistan

Soldier Mark Western Suffered Catastrophic Injuries When He Was Dragged Under Armored Vehicle

07.12.2016

A former serviceman who lost his leg in an accident while stationed in Afghanistan has instructed specialist military injury lawyers to help him secure a settlement to pay for a life-time of rehabilitation and prosthetics.

Mark Western, from Stockport, suffered catastrophic injuries when he was dragged under an armoured car during a tug-of-war-style charity event at Ouellette military base in November 2012. The MoD has admitted that there were problems with the length of ropes used and overcrowding when the accident happened.

The 30-year-old instructed expert military injury lawyers Irwin Mitchell to help him obtain funding to help with post-injury rehabilitation, transition into civilian life and specialist equipment, following the accident which almost claimed his life.

But Mark, whose leg was amputated below the knee, said that beyond the specialist care they receive at the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre (DMRC), Headley Court, military amputees can often feel lost and directionless when they leave the service.

He added that a lack of knowledge of the support available to them here in the UK means some are crowdfunding for prosthetics.

“I know a guy who raised £90,000 to fly over to Australia and buy his own prosthetic,” he said. “That shouldn’t be happening to someone in the military, and not in a country with one of the best health services in the world. But these guys and girls come out of the forces as amputees and just don’t know where to look in civvy street to get what they need to live comfortably.

Plans to improve the care received by the most seriously injured service personnel and veterans were announced by Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State For Defence, Mark Lancaster in July.

Support for wounded service personnel is currently funded and delivered by a number of separate agencies, including the NHS, Ministry of Defence, local authorities and charitable organisations, but a pilot, which began in September, will see care co-ordinated and delivered by an Integrated High Dependency Care System (IHDCS).

Addressing the House of Commons on July 16, Mr Lancaster said: “This will provide confidence for this small number of individuals, and their families, that their clinical, health and social support needs will continue to be met when they leave the armed forces and for the rest of their lives.”

Mark added: “Many serving and former service men and women, including me, will have high hopes and expectations for the new IHDCS, which hopefully will fulfil its pledge to ensure lifelong care is received by the most seriously injured service personnel and veterans.

“With the support of multiple organisations all under one umbrella, this should mean service personnel and veterans feel supported and are less likely to slip through the cracks in the existing care system.”

Mark, a former soldier with the Kings Division of 1 Lancashire Regiment, was deployed to Afghanistan where he was attached to 21 Engineer Regiment when he was injured.

He and 19 fellow soldiers were pulling the “Husky” armoured vehicle as part of an event to celebrate St Andrew’s Day, when the vehicle gained momentum and he was dragged under its wheels.

Mark suffered multiple fractures to his left foot, ultimately leading to the amputation of his leg from below the knee, a fractured vertebrae, broken pelvis, fractured ribs and a ruptured bladder. He was also left with permanent back pain and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS), Mark has already received a settlement, but turned to the specialist military team at Irwin Mitchell to secure funds which take into account his lost earnings and pension, as well as the specialist equipment – including prosthetics – he needs to live more independently.

Expert Opinion
“Mark suffered horrific injuries which he is still working hard to overcome and adapt to. Mark has struggled with everyday tasks that many of us are able to take for granted, such as simply moving from room to room within his own home.

“With an amputation comes a lifetime of adaptations and adjustments both physically and mentally.

”We have been working with Mark to secure the funding he needs for the rest of his life to help him live as independently as possible and to get the rehabilitation and suitable prosthetics to enable him to do this.

“Many of our injured soldiers go on to represent the country in the Paralympics or the Invictus Games and one of the reasons for this is that they are able to combine their determination to succeed with high quality prosthetics and care. But some still don’t know they may be entitled to support beyond the AFCS.”
Paul Weston, Solicitor

Mark added: “Some people who are leaving the armed forces because of injuries they have suffered may be entitled to settlements above and beyond the funding they get from the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme Which makes a huge difference when you have a lifetime as an amputee ahead of you.

“I have had to have my house adapted so I can move around freely in a wheelchair. I have to have a downstairs wet room and wheelchair ramps – those things cost money and I’m still having surgeries to correct this and that with my leg so I might need further equipment down the line.”

Mark said that his family are still adjusting to his disability and life outside the military.

“We have been well supported by Irwin Mitchell from the start,” he said. “They’ve been really good at supporting my family who have had as big an adjustment to make as I have really.

“If there’s one thing I have learned through all of this it’s that there’s no such thing as a silly question. You need all the support you can get when coming back from an injury like this, but sometimes you have to ask for it.”

If you or a loved one has been injured whilst serving in the Armed Forces, you could be entitled to compensation. See our Military Injury Claims page for more information.