Military Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Claims
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a condition our military claims team sees in a substantial number of service personnel.
Along with other mental health issues such as depression, anger management problems or alcohol dependency, PTSD often results from extraordinary and extreme situations and experiences.
The symptoms of PTSD vary enormously from person to person. One individual might seem withdrawn, while another can become extremely angry or violent at the slightest provocation.
Some people have frequent flashbacks, and others deny there is anything to remember. It can take many sufferers a long time to realise that they have been affected at all.
Visit our symptoms page to see a list of problems that can indicate a person may have PTSD.
Types of compensation
When mental health problems are a result of enemy action, then carers or employers may well encourage a service man or woman to apply for compensation through the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS).
Even if PTSD was caused by some other service-related activity such as an accident at work or bullying, however, a claim can still be made to the AFCS.
In addition, if there has been negligence or deliberate harm involved in the causes or treatment of the PTSD then, as well as making a claim for an AFCS award, you should consider a claim for negligence as well.
Time limits apply to both types of claim, and both can be made during service. Failing to make a negligence claim until discharge can mean that the claim will be out of time. See our military claims page for more information about time limits.
Negligence and PTSD
It is normal to be troubled by the experience of combat or working in a war zone. However, a person’s reaction to these events can be so intense and long-lasting that it becomes a health issue.
Her Majesty’s forces have recognised this and have done a lot in recent years to encourage the chain of command to be alert to signs of PTSD. For example, they have instructed commanders to take note if a person is drinking more or has a series of disciplinary problems that are out of character.
Unfortunately, our team still hears about unsympathetic, or simply unobservant, commanders telling sufferers to “have a pint and get over it”, instead of referring them to the medical centre for an assessment.
We also hear about doctors or other health professionals who are less alert than they should be to the possibility that a patient may have PTSD and either do not consider it or fail to follow up treatment plans.
Other causes of negligence
Bolt Burdon Kemp has helped many clients with PTSD that has been caused or made worse by circumstances such as:
- Incidents caused by malfunctioning equipment or unsafe working practices
- Bullying and assault
- Rape and other sexual assault
- The chain of command failing to take account of out-of-character behaviour
- Medical Employment Standard restrictions not being observed; for example, a service man or woman has been deployed with the limitation they should stay on camp, but the commander has insisted they are needed on patrol
- A person has been deployed for combat against medical advice
- Medical staff have not instituted any programme of treatment because the service man or woman, though ill, does not “tick all the boxes” for PTSD
- A need for treatment has been identified but not followed through
- Personnel who have self-harmed or attempted suicide but been returned to full duties without seeing a consultant psychiatrist
- Non-attendance at treatment sessions has been approached as a disciplinary matter
- The wrong medical grading has been given, or a failure to downgrade somebody already suffering from mental health issues, has meant deployment and further exposure
A further, relatively common, situation is that Vulnerable Service Leavers procedures have not been followed. Those procedures require a service man or woman with PTSD or other serious mental health condition to be given a package of support after discharge, including housing, employment and social welfare support.
There should also be a clear link-up with NHS service providers to prevent the service leaver being left without the right care. Failure here can result in family problems, homelessness and long-term unemployment.
Contact our dedicated solicitors to discuss your claim further in complete confidence.
How we have helped our clients
Delayed diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
We were instructed to investigate a clinical negligence claim for a delayed diagnosis of PTSD.
Our client deployed to Afghanistan on Op Herrick 08 for 6 months in 2008. On his return he felt ‘like a different person’ and started to get into trouble for being insubordinate and drinking alcohol. He was seen by a CPN where red flag symptoms of PTSD were noted. He was discharged from DCMH without being referred to a psychiatrist. Our client presented to his medical officer again in 2015 after a bereavement. He was referred to DCMH and was finally diagnosed with PTSD later that year.
We obtained an expert medical report from a psychiatrist who confirmed that our client should have been referred to a consultant psychiatrist for assessment in May 2011 based on the PTSD checklist score. If he had been referred, on the balance of probability, he would have been diagnosed with PTSD and given treatment.
There were a number of issues about what impact the delay had on our client’s PTSD and whether it had been made it worse. We were able to negotiate a settlement early on in the claim which protected his future entitlement under the AFCS scheme. Our client was delighted that the settlement allowed him to move on and funded his future treatment.
PTSD settlement for former Army Sergeant
Our client, a former Sergeant in the British Army, received £375,000 for PTSD caused by the Voyager aircraft incident. This incident saw a military plane drop 4,400 feet in about 30 seconds during a flight from the UK to Afghanistan in 2014. Our client was diagnosed with PTSD due to the incident and was medically discharged as a result, bringing an early end to his promising career. The compensation award, agreed in an out of court settlement, included sums to reflect our client’s future loss of earnings and military pension due to his curtailed career, as well as a contingency for future psychological treatment. This was one of a number of six-figure settlements achieved for service personnel involved in this terrifying incident.