Veterans

Veterans Secure Multi-Million Pound Settlement Over Afghanistan Injuries

The former servicemen were on board Pinzgauer troop carriers when their vehicles struck roadside improvised explosive devices.

Three former servicemen who suffered severe injuries in Afghanistan are to receive millions of pounds in compensation.

The men were travelling in "inadequately-armoured" Pinzgauer vehicles when they struck roadside improvised explosive devices (IEDs), the solicitors representing them said.

"The seven-figure settlements we have reached in each case reflects the serious nature of the Claimants’ injuries together with their subsequent medical discharge from the Armed Forces," said Simon Quinn from Hilary Meredith Solicitors.

"It is to be hoped that in any future conflict our troops will be provided with the best equipment available before death or serious injury occurs."

The vehicles used by the veterans were Pinzgauer troop carriers, which had been introduced to replace Snatch Land Rovers.

A fleet of 166 Pinzgauer vehicles was procured by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and entered into combat operations in Afghanistan in April 2007 during Operation Herrick.

Hilary Meredith said a Royal Marine from 42 Commando suffered multiple severe injuries and fractures in October 2008 when, travelling in the front passenger seat, the Pinzgauer Vector he was in struck an IED.

A "number of similar incidents" were reported in the following months, solicitors representing the former servicemen said.

Pinzgauer Vector protected patrol vehicle
The Pinzgauer Vector protected patrol vehicle was withdrawn from service in Afghanistan in 2009 (Picture: MOD).

On 3 August 2009, two more personnel were injured when their Pinzgauer truck was deployed as an ambulance to recover a casualty in Afghanistan.

Their vehicle struck an IED, causing the driver to suffer an above-knee amputation of his leg and a Territorial Reserve officer in the front passenger seat to suffer severe psychological and physical injuries.

In each case, the former servicemen believe their injuries would have been avoided had they been travelling in "suitably-armoured" vehicles.

Concerns were reportedly raised over the Pinzgauer vehicles during combat operations in Iraq because of their flat, rather than V-shaped, underside, and the position of the driver and front-seat passenger seats over the front wheels.

As a result, the vehicles had been nicknamed "coffins on wheels" by UK troops, Hilary Meredith added.

Proceedings were launched against the MOD on the basis that the decision to supply the Pinzgauer vehicles to troops serving in Afghanistan was negligent, the law firm said.

But, the MOD argued that, due to combat immunity, no duty of care was owed in circumstances where the injuries occurred during combat operations, it added.

However, after the Supreme Court decided not to dismiss similar claims, reasoning that procurement decisions had not been taken in the heat of battle and might not fall within the scope of the combat immunity defence, the MOD agreed in 2016 that it would settle the claims relating to the Pinzgauer vehicles, without any admission of liability, Hilary Meredith said.

Ministry of Defence plaque outside HQ

Following the exchange of medical evidence, settlements were negotiated on behalf of each claimant, the law firm added.

The Ministry of Defence said it paid out around £2 million in damages, comprising part of what Hilary Meredith says is a total payout of more than £10 million in compensation for the three veterans.

The MOD said the rest of the money comes from the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme, which provides "no fault" compensation to those injured during service and was separate to the legal claims.

An MOD spokesman said: "We can confirm that we have settled three claims from former service personnel relating to Vector Pinzgauer vehicles.

"We do not comment on details of individual settlements."

Cover image: A Pinzgauer Vector vehicle (Picture: MOD).