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Military Injury Compensation Claims

Heat Injury Compensation Claims

Every year service men and women suffer heat injuries during training and on active service, both at home and abroad. Heat injury is avoidable with the right planning and preparation, but the MOD does not always ensure this is the case. If you or a loved one has suffered a heat injury, our expert military solicitors could help you make a compensation claim. 

The effects of heat injury can be very serious and may lead to permanent downgrading or early retirement from the Forces. Symptoms may include:

  • Exhaustion
  • Dehydration
  • Dizziness and confusion
  • Muscle spasms
  • Physical collapse.

The most severe cases of heat injury can be fatal – we represented the family of a soldier who was one of three to die from hyperthermia during an SAS training exercise in the Brecon Beacons.

Serving in the Armed Forces can mean exposure to extreme environments, but the MOD still has a duty of care to ensure that proper planning and protocol is in place to avoid preventable injury. The Joint Service Publication 539 (JSP 539) sets out the regulations for training in very hot or cold temperatures, but as cases such as the Brecon Beacons show, these rules are not always followed.

If you’ve suffered a heat injury while serving in any capacity in the Army, Navy, RAF or Special Forces you may be able to claim compensation. You could also claim if you were injured while serving in the Army Reserve (formerly the Territorial Army), Navy, RAF or Special Forces Reserves.

Our expert team of specialist military solicitors is the largest in the country and includes three ex-servicemen. We’ve helped hundreds of servicemen and women get compensation after preventable injuries, working with military consultants to identify where mistakes were made and understand the full impact on our clients’ lives and careers.

Bringing a claim against the MOD can seem daunting, but we have the experience and expertise to guide you through the process. Call one of our expert team today on 0800 022 3321 – or fill out our online form and we’ll call you back.

Expert knowledge of heat injury and the JSP 539 regulations
Experienced in claims against the MOD
Offices across the country

No Win No Fee* may be available

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Heat Injury Claims - More Information
    • Can I Make A No Win No Fee* Claim?
    • Many of our cases are funded with a No Win No Fee agreement. This means that there’s no financial risk* to you when making a compensation claim.

      At the start of your case, we'll discuss funding options with you, advising you which we think is most suitable. If you have legal expenses insurance (LEI), this may be best for you. Legal expenses insurance is included in many household or car insurance policies, so it’s always worth checking whether you’re already covered.

      If we think you're best supported by a No Win No Fee* agreement, we'll explain the process clearly. You'll only have to pay anything if your claim is successful – your opponent will pay most of our fees, with the remaining costs coming out of your compensation settlement. 

      Please visit our No Win No Fee page for more information on how it works.

    • What's The Claims Process?
    • To make a compensation claim for a military injury or illness, the first thing you need to do is get in touch with us for a free initial consultation. We'll discuss the circumstances surrounding your accident or illness, advise you on whether or not we think you can claim, and whether you could benefit from a No Win No Fee* arrangement.

      The claim will begin by sending a formal letter of claim to the Ministry of Defence. After this, the claim will usually follow the same four stages:

      1.Investigation. We'll begin by determining the extent of your injuries, and the losses they may result in. This will involve obtaining copies of your military medical notes, and any civilian hospitals you've received treatment at. We'll also need a copy of your Armed Forces Compensation Scheme file, and your personnel file.

      The MoD will undertake an investigation, which usually starts by contacting your unit to confirm details of your accident, and obtain any relevant paperwork. They may also speak to any of your colleagues who were present at the time of the accident, and can provide witness evidence.

      2.Rehabilitation. If you have any medical care or support needs, we'll help you to access the necessary treatment and advice.

      3.Compensation. We'll work out how much compensation you should get based on the severity of your injuries and your pain and suffering, any medical expenses you've had and your ability to get back to work. We'll put this amount to the MoD, and they can either accept liability or contest the claim.

      4.Resolution. If the MoD accepts blame, you'll be awarded compensation. If not, court proceedings will begin. 

      We will try to settle your claim on the best terms, considering options in addition to bringing court proceedings. The MoD should also do the same, as they are obliged to as a branch of government.

      Starting proceedings doesn't mean that your claim will definitely go to trial. Instead, it means that the court take over the management of you case, setting strict timetables for the exchange of documents, witness evidence and expert reports. If you do have to go to court, we'll be there to support you every step of the way. 

      If you have any questions about the claims process, please contact us today on 0800 022 3321 for your free initial consultation.

    • Will Claiming Impact My Career?
    • No. The MoD understands that they ask service personnel to do a difficult job in dangerous situations – and unfortunately accidents do happen. They recognise and respect the individual's right to bring a legal claim for injuries. Claiming won't affect your entitlement to a pension, either.

      The Ministry of Defence should not discriminate against personnel who bring compensation claims after an injury. If you're planning on continuing your service career after your claim, then there are very strict rules about discriminating against someone on this basis.

    • What's The Armed Forces Compensation Scheme?
    • The Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS) is a government scheme that provides compensation for injury, illness and death caused by service on or after 6 April 2005.

      Unlike a legal claim, the AFCS does not require you to establish that anybody else was at fault. This means that you could be able to claim under the AFCS in circumstances where there is no legal claim.

      However, the AFCS is a tariff based system – it does not look at the way your injury will affect you as an individual, or what financial losses you will actually incur. For this reason legal claims made through the courts will almost always result in significantly more compensation than claims made through the AFCS.

      It's accepted that members of the armed forces have no choice where they're deployed, or in the activities they're required to undertake. This means that compensation could be paid from the scheme for injuries caused in a number of ways, including those that occur during:

      • Operations
      • Training
      • Service-approved sports
      • Exercise to maintain military fitness

      Both regular and reserve forces can apply for compensation through the AFCS, whether you're still serving or a veteran.

      Compensation is paid as a lump sum on a tariff-based system determined by the severity of your injuries, and can range from a minimum of £1,200 to a maximum award of £570,000. You could claim through the AFCS as well as claiming through the courts.

      You can find out more about the AFCS here, or alternatively you can contact our solicitors on 0800 022 3321 for a free consultation if you have any specific questions.

    • Meet The Experts
    • Our military injury team have been helping service men and women claim against the MoD since 1987. The team includes several former military personnel, and includes:

      • Geraldine McCool, who was described as the “Military Master” by The Lawyer. Geraldine is secretary of The Royal British Legion Solicitors Group and heads our specialist military injury team.
      • Paul Harrington, who completed an operational tour in Northern Ireland as a Bomb Disposal Operator. Paul brings his expertise as a former Ammunition Technical Officer and specialises in claims involving equipment, weapons, munitions and training accidents.
      • Simon Harrington, who has over 15 years of experience bringing claims against the MoD. Simon specialises in cold injury claims, having helped hundreds of service personnel to claim over £10 million in compensation for their injuries.
      • Andrew Buckham, who served in the Army for seven years before joining Irwin Mitchell. Andrew specialises in claims relating to serious and fatal injuries. He is also a trustee for the Defence Medical Welfare Service

      Meet our military injury team.

Getting the support from Irwin Mitchell with my adapted house has given me the encouragement and independence I needed to get out there and find other things I am interested in."

Ray Lowrie
Ray Lowrie

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Heat Injury?

There are three main types of heat injury. These are:

  • Heat cramps – presenting as muscle spasms, usually in the legs
  • Heat exhaustion
  • Heat stroke

Headaches, exhaustion, dizziness and confusion, and a raised body temperature, are all symptoms of heat injury. Heat stroke is the most severe, needing immediate medical attention – in extreme cases the core body temperature can rise above 40°C. However, heat injury in all its forms is potentially dangerous and should be treated as soon as possible.

Heat injury is caused by over-exposure to a hot environment. This can happen in a temperate climate as well as an extreme one – both heat injuries and non-freezing cold injuries are a frequent problem for soldiers training in the UK every year. Completing gruelling physical activities over a prolonged period, often with heavy uniforms and equipment, can easily lead to injury if not overseen properly.

Heat injury happens because the body is trying to rid itself of excess heat through sweating. This leads to a critical loss of vital nutrients in the body, and can be very dangerous if not dealt with immediately.

The MOD has a duty of care to its soldiers and cadets to make sure they have the right preparation before during a training exercise and appropriate supervision during it, to avoid preventable cases of illness and injury.

If you or a loved one has suffered a heat injury, we could help you make a claim for compensation. Call today on 0800 022 3321 or fill out our online form and we’ll call you back.

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How Can Heat Injury Be Prevented?

It is possible to prevent heat injury with proper planning and preparation. The Joint Service Publication 539 issued by the MOD lays out precautions that should be taken when servicemen and women are exposed to hot and cold environments.

Some of these precautions include:

  • Proper risk assessment in advance
  • Adequate rest periods
  • Sufficient food and water
  • Fast response to symptoms of heat injury

It is the duty of the senior officer overseeing the training to ensure everyone is aware of the risks, understands the importance of staying hydrated, and seeks medical aid when appropriate.

In intensive training scenarios, when endurance is often key, it can be hard to prioritise basic physical needs. However, to avoid heat injury and other damage, it is essential that hydration and rest are factored into any training exercise, and that those in charge are aware of the wellbeing of their team.

In the tragic case of the Brecon Beacons, three soldiers died on an SAS training exercise on the hottest day of 2013. The inquest found that deaths could have been prevented if the exercise had been cut short when they fell ill – instead the exercise was continued, with fatal consequences.

If you’ve suffered heat injury or lost a loved one on a training exercise, our military lawyers could help you get the answers you need. Call today on 0800 022 3321 or fill out our online enquiry form.

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Why Choose Irwin Mitchell?

We have the largest military injury team in the country and we’ve already helped hundreds of servicemen and women get compensation after injuries, both in training and on active service. We have 14 offices across the UK, with military experts based in Manchester, Sheffield, Cambridge and Southampton.

Our team includes several ex-servicemen, whose experience and knowledge of the military make us uniquely placed to understand the individual circumstances of every client’s case. We also work closely with two military consultants, one of whom was the lead Land Accident and Investigation Team (LAIT) investigator of heat injuries during the later stages of his service career.

Our work in this area means we are extremely familiar with the rules and regulations regarding training in hot weather, as laid out by the Joint Service Publication 539, and are experts in identifying how failings may have occurred.

This knowledge and experience also means that we are able to understand the full impact of our clients’ injuries, both now and in the future, and value their claim accordingly. The compensation available through the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme is capped and often does not adequately reflect the extent of the damage on our clients’ personal and professional lives.

We’ll work hard to get you the right level of compensation, enabling you to get the proper support and rehabilitation, as well as make up for lost future earnings, if your career has been downgraded as a result of your injury.

Call today on 0800 022 3321 or use our online form and we’ll get back to you.

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Royal British Legion


We're proud to be part of The Royal British Legion Solicitor's Group

Our Armed Forces Expertise

Since 1987, our specialist military injury team has helped hundreds of injured personnel from the Army, RAF and Royal Navy to claim compensation. We are considered one of the top law firms in the country for military claims and several cases we were involved in were recently featured in the Chilcot Inquiry.

We work closely with a number of Armed Forces welfare branches and organisations, and are the PAX appointed legal representatives under the PAX Personal Accident Insurance Scheme. We're also proud supporters of:

  • The Royal British Legion Solicitors Group
  • Help For Heroes
  • SSAFA Forces Help

Several of our solicitors were part of team that recently won The Claims Innovation Award for Legal Service Team of the Year (2016) for their pro bono work within The Royal British Legion Solicitors Group (TRBLSG).

Our Offices

Our offices are located in major cities throughout the UK and have excellent transport links.

Start Your Claim Today

To begin your claim for compensation, or ask any questions regarding personal injury claims, contact us today for a free consultation.

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