New figures released under the Freedom of Information Act indicate that over the past 15 years one British serviceperson is killed in training exercises every six weeks as a direct result of accidents during military training exercises.
At the time of publication, reports indicate that the total number of deaths over the past 15 years stands at 125 people, this shocking figure is only 54 less than the total number of military personnel killed in combat during the Iraq War. The revelations have prompted fears in relation to gross negligence on the part of the armed forces – which could lead some families to seek military injury compensation.
The damning news comes just days after top military chiefs faced heated criticism from families over the deaths of three Territorial Army soldiers during a routine training exercise in the Brecon Beacons in July 2013. In this instance a coroner’s report indicated that “neglect and delays” contributed to the soldiers collapsing and ultimately dying from heat stroke, when their lives could have been saved if preventative action was taken more promptly. It is circumstances such as this, where there the MOD has been negligent in its care or treatment of military personnel, which give rise to military injury compensation claims. Pressure continues to mount from MOD lawyers urging top brass to take more preventative measures to protect recruits as they train, as the spectre of army injury compensation claims begins to loom large.
The Freedom of Information Act request indicates that the Army is home to the greatest number of training fatalities, totalling 86, whilst the Royal Navy (including the Royal Marines) accrued 22 and the RAF 17. Chiefs were quick to point out that the frequency of the deaths has fallen; between 2000 and 2008 there were ten deaths a year as compared with seven from 2009 to 2014, but questions remain as to how significant this decline really is given that during the same time period overall troop numbers have plunged from about 195,000 to just 154,000.
Military commanders stand by the notion that in order for military training to be effective, it must replicate hostile, dangerous conditions likely to be faced in combat, but in response to the fatality figures, military injuries compensation specialist Philippa Tuckman issued the following statement.
‘This is a shocking number of deaths. It is not enough to say, ‘Well, they are using guns’ or ‘We put them in hazardous situations’ – that is a reason to take more care…There are detailed guidelines which stress the fact that, if the risk factors are assessed properly and appropriately managed, nearly all injuries can be prevented.”
Families contemplating the notion of claiming military training injury compensation will also be shocked to learn of the nature of some of the training fatalities, wherein soldiers were shot in mock battles, crushed by vehicles and drowned in inappropriately supervised exercises. In September 2011 for example, 21 year-old Fusilier Dean Griffiths of the 1st Battalion of the Royal Welsh was shot dead at a firing range after standing behind a wooden fence mistakenly marked out as a target for firing practice. In April 2014 Private Cameron Laing, aged 20, was crushed to death by a truck travelling through a Devon training camp – an inquest later indicated the fatigue of the overworked crew on board was in part to blame for the incident. The MoD is still thought to be investigating the death of Lieutenant Gareth Jenkins, 25, who perished in May 2015 on a Royal Marines selection march through Dartmoor.
Jason Brady, specialist military injury compensation solicitor at Blackwater Law personal injury solicitors in Suffolk, commented:
“These figures are extremely worrying and highlight just how regularly serious accidents are occurring during military training exercises. In addition to those accidents causing fatalities, there will be others that leave service personnel with serious and potentially life-changing injuries.
“Many injured military personnel do not always realise that they may be entitled to compensation for injuries they have sustained, and the financial losses they suffer as a result.. It is important that they speak with a specialist military injury claim solicitor.”
Claiming military injury compensation
If you or a family member have been injured in during military training, or whilst on active duty, speak to a professional military injury solicitor today about making a claim for armed forces compensation. Call Blackwater Law direct on 0800 083 5500, and get free initial legal advice and support from one of the UK’s leading personal injury law practices, as recognised by the legal 500.