A landmark compensation claim could force the Ministry of Defence to assess the care given to former soldiers. A former army bomb disposal expert won an accident compensation claim against the government. The claim was based on the fact that the ministry of defence were negligent in promptly diagnosing the soldier's condition of post-traumatic stress disorder.
His solicitors successfully claimed that his condition would not have deteriorated so extensively, had the MoD exercised due care. The soldier in question also underwent psychometric tests, but he was cleared by army physiatrists to continue military operations.
The soldier who cannot be named for security reasons had served in the Gulf war, Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, defusing bombs. But, the soldier was only formally diagnosed for post-traumatic stress disorder in June 2004, as opposed to 1998 when the condition first materialised. Solicitors managed to successfully argue that this delay in diagnose meant their client was more susceptible to future stress attacks.
The MoD argued that a compensation claim could not have been made. Their argument rested on the fact that a personal injury compensation claim should have been made within 3 years of the condition materialising in 1998. But the court was inclined to agree that the correct date for statute of limitations would be 2004 when the soldier was officially diagnosed.
The MoD and claimant settled a six-figure accident compensation claim out of court. The soldier's solicitor remarked that "The case highlights the potential liability of military psychiatrists and officers when signs of PTSD appear and their joint responsibility in ensuring that army personnel are properly monitored and treated. PTSD is unfortunately still a taboo subject in the army, and I hope that this case serves to remind the MoD that they have a continuing duty of supervision and monitoring."
A MoD spokesman said: "When compensation claims are received they are considered on the basis of whether or not the Ministry of Defence has a legal liability to pay compensation. Where there is a proven legal liability, compensation is paid. Following a meeting on 28 July 2010 between the parties involved in the claim, a negotiated settlement was agreed to the satisfaction of all concerned."