Military Injury Compensation for Soldier Injured in Friendly-Fire Incident Less than Paid to Shooter

By Blackwater Law

The issue of military injury compensation has long been a controversial one in the UK, with a number of indications that successive UK governments have been failing to meet their responsibilities in relation to veterans, or even service personnel in training.

Now though it emerges an even more blatant instance of the MoD failing to meet its duty of care to active servicemen has unfurled in relation to one Colour Sgt. Albert Thomson, who had his leg torn to pieces in a tragic friendly-fire accident while he was on patrol in Southern Iraq in March 2003.

Military Injury Compensation 10 Times Less for Victim than Shooter

Thomson was rushed to nearby battlefield surgeons who were forced to remove his leg in a bid to save his life – succeeding in doing so. In line with standard frontline injury tariffs, the army subsequently awarded the injured soldier £50,000 in armed forces compensation. What transpired however, was that the man accused of being at fault for the shooting – one Captain Thomas Henderson – would eventually win an appeal against taking responsibility for the tragedy; having his initial conviction overturned when it emerged an electrical fault with the vehicle he was riding in could have caused his weapon to fire on his comrade. Following a lengthy legal struggle between the two parties, the MoD would settle out of court with Henderson; he was awarded £500,000 – ten times the amount of military injury compensation received by the wounded Thomson – in secret, purportedly to help him deal with the stress of being wrongfully blamed. Shadow Defence Minister Kevan Jones has subsequently labelled the discrepancy between the armed forces compensation sums awarded as an “injustice”, issuing the following statement:

“It can’t be right that a soldier who was accused of shooting a colleague gets ten times more than the soldier who had his leg ripped off. It is also disappointing that this settlement was reached in secret. The MoD should publish all the evidence in this case.”

Victim Albert Thomson has also voiced dissatisfaction at the army compensation pay-outs, telling the Daily Mail: “He’s done well, hasn’t he? He shot me, not on purpose obviously, but he was the main cause of it…”

MoD ‘Suppressed’ Publication of Case Details

Weapons expert Warren Lister, who testified in court in support of Captain Henderson believes the MoD offered such a large out-of-court settlement because it wished to suppress publication of case details, maintaining that “In 2003 the [vehicle Henderson was operating] and the machine-gun were mechanically dangerous…”.

Whatever the MoD’s intentions behind the settlements and despite Sgt. Thomson’s decision not to pursue further armed forces compensation from his former employer, serious questions remain as to the clarity and ethics of the army’s conduct as regards the case, and possibly others like it.

Our Thoughts on the Military Injury Compensation Offered to Injured Veterans

Military injury compensation solicitor at Blackwater Law, Jason Brady, commented the following:

“This case shines a light on just how little soldiers can receive in military injury compensation through the standard Armed Forces Compensation Scheme. It is important injured soldiers seek legal advice so they can receive the full support they need to move forward with life.

“For the injured soldier to have received so little for physical injuries, compared to the compensation for psychological injuries awarded to the person responsible for shooting him, raises many questions of the MoD Armed Forces Compensation scheme indeed.”

How to Claim Armed Forces Compensation

If you or someone close to you feels they have received substandard or unfair treatment serving the UK military, you can speak to a military injury compensation solicitor at Blackwater Law today on 0800 083 5500. With one of the UK’s leading personal injury teams, you can be sure of the very best in legal advice and support, and get your life back on track with the highest sum of armed forces compensation available to you.