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Written by Claire Roantree

Boyes Turner’s personal injury lawyers have secured a £300,000 settlement for a former soldier whose pre-existing PTSD was exacerbated when he was redeployed for a second tour of duty in Afghanistan.

First exposure and PTSD

Our client was an experienced soldier who had joined the Army as an Infantry Soldier and been promoted through the ranks to Platoon Sergeant, undertaking tours to Bosnia, Cyprus and Iraq. After retraining as an Operating Department Practitioner (ODP) he worked at MDHU Frimley Park as an Army Medic in the military district hospital.  He was posted last minute to Camp Bastion in Afghanistan for three months with only 3 days’ notice.  During the tour, he experienced a number of traumatic events, following which he was diagnosed with PTSD by an Army Psychiatrist.

Redeployment and second exposure causing exacerbation of PTSD

He was undergoing ongoing EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) treatment and still continuing to experience PTSD symptoms, when he was redeployed by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) back to Camp Bastion for a further three months. Our client’s fitness for a return to duty in Afghanistan was negligently authorised by the same Psychiatrist employed by the MOD.

Our client’s condition deteriorated significantly after his second deployment and the MOD Psychiatrist confirmed that his re-deployment had reactivated his PTSD and had exacerbated it with an additional trauma reaction.   He was eventually certified unfit for all military OPD duties or further deployment. He was medically discharged.

PTSD claim against MOD

Our client instructed Claire Roantree, Partner and PTSD specialist in Boyes Turner’s PI team to pursue a claim against the MOD. Following detailed investigations into our client’s psychological condition, his medical history and his employment, we issued court proceedings.

We obtained a report from a Consultant Psychiatrist who concluded that our client now suffered from permanent chronic PTSD, leaving him permanently unfit for military service or for work as an ODP and significantly handicapped in the open job market. But for his second deployment to Afghanistan, our client had intended to remain in the Army and thereafter undertake agency ODP work or apply for a late entry commission. Unable to do so, he attempted alternative part time work but was unable to work owing to the negligently caused deterioration in his condition.

The MOD denied liability for our client’s exacerbated psychological condition and the resulting financial losses. They denied that the MOD’s Psychiatrist was negligent in assessing our client as fit for redeployment to Afghanistan, saying that all necessary support was available to our client, and sought to rely on combat immunity.

On the basis of the MOD’s denial, we prepared to pursue the case to a contested trial, supported by evidence from witnesses and medical, financial and employment experts. The MOD arranged for their expert Psychiatrist to examine our client but when experts’ reports were exchanged these revealed that one of the MOD’s expert Psychiatrists was partially critical of the Psychiatrist’s assessment which had authorised our client’s redeployment to Afghanistan.

With liability still disputed, the MOD made an offer to settle the claim for £300,000, which our client accepted.