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NFCI Non-Freezing Cold Injury Claims

If you have been exposed to the cold resulting in a NFCI injury, you may be able to claim compensation. Your case will be reviewed by our panel of legal firms who will be able to tell you how much you could be owed.

NFCI Claims Overview

According to health and safety statistics, 1.8 million employees in the UK suffer from work-related illnesses. In addition, workplace injuries/illnesses have led to 36.8 million lost working days. Meanwhile, working conditions have resulted in £18.8 billion in estimated damages and ill health costs.

As an employee in the UK, here’s one truth you must accept — every job has risks. However, some are more dangerous than others due to exposure to animals, extreme weather conditions, use of hazardous equipment, etc. For example, military jobs are unarguably one of the most deadly in the UK.
MOD Health and Safety statistics external link icon light blue gives the incident rate in the UK Army as 51.8 per 1000. Non-freezing cold injury (NFCI) is one of the common wounds that military personnel face in the line of duty. This injury typically has devastating effects on affected military personnel, and the injured person may be entitled to compensation for their pain.

In this article, you’ll learn everything about NFCI claims in the United Kingdom. Meanwhile, if you want to know the value of your claim and what to expect during the process, contact Claims Bible.

What is a Non-Freezing Cold Injury (NFCI)?

A non-freezing cold injury occurs when you expose your body tissues to temperatures just above freezing for an extended period. In other words, persons with NFCI endured extremely low temperatures without freezing. NFCI usually happens because the affected person cannot completely dry off the area exposed to prolonged cold.

An NFCI is a common condition amongst military personnel and is particularly prevalent among those undergoing training or deployment. In fact, those who sustain such an injury must have remained in cold/wet environments for days, months, or even years. It’s also important to note that certain ethnicities are more susceptible to developing an NFCI than others.

There are two types of non-freezing cold injuries — chilblains and trench foot:


Exposure to icy conditions for short periods can trigger the appearance of red, itchy swellings on your skin. Medical practitioners call these bumps chilblains.

Chilblains happen because the small blood vessels in your toes and fingers get tinier during low temperatures. As such, your blood wouldn’t be able to flow as easily as before. If you get warm very fast, the blood vessels enlarge to allow blood to get to them quickly. This can result in swelling or noticeable pain after a few hours of being in the cold.
Fortunately, chilblains are self-treatable and will often clear up without any intervention. However, while this injury typically appears on the fingers and toes, it can also affect your face and legs.

Trench Foot

Trench foot is a more severe non-freezing cold injury resulting from hours of exposure to cold. This injury typically worsens the more time you spend in extremely low temperatures. More than just cold weather, wearing tight or damp footwear can increase the severity of the non-freezing cold injury.
Common trench foot symptoms include cold, shooting pain, bleeding, redness, numbness, darkened skin, and sensitivity. This injury will typically affect your hands, feet, genitals, etc., and unlike chilblains, causes permanent damage.

There are four stages of a trench foot injury. In the first phase, which happens while exposed to cold, you’ll notice a loss of sensation in the affected parts. The second stage follows after cold exposure, resulting in swollen/discoloured skin. Although this phase typically lasts for some hours, it can extend to several days.

In the third stage, you’ll feel chronic pain that may last many days or weeks. The final phase may be permanent or last many years and causes excruciating pain and skin sensitivity to cold.

While NFCI may sound like a minor injury, it’s not. Military personnel who suffer from this condition will often be discharged from duty or medically demoted from the armed forces. Other times, it’ll threaten their career growth through missed opportunities and lost earnings. Worse still, the effects of NFCI transcend the physical into emotional and mental health problems.

Did you know?

From 31 August 2012 to 31 March 2017, the MoD settled 485 NFCI claims, paying out £26.6m in damages.

How to manage Non-Freezing Cold Injuries (NFCI’s)

Are you a military personnel or work in industries with high chances of prolonged cold exposure? Then, you’ll find these preventative and curative measures helpful in managing NFCI:

  • Ensure that you keep all affected body parts clean and dry to reduce the risk of developing trench foot
  • Change damp clothes as regularly as possible
  • Dry your internal footwear daily
  • If you think you have a non-freezing cold injury, remove wet footwear/clothing immediately and raise the affected parts
  • If you believe the NFCI has affected your feet, avoid walking or popping the blisters on them

Key Facts

There are 4 stages to an NFCI injury:

Stage 1 – Injury or cold phase. The affected area is cold and numb.

Stage 2Immediate post injury. When the limb is warmed the colour  changes from white to blue but remains cold and numb.

Stage 3 – Hyperaemic phase. The area becomes hot red with dry skin which is painful. Some blistering may occir.

Stage 4 – Post Hyperaemic Phase. Increased sensitivity to the cold, and ongoing pain with possible muscle atrophy and ulceration.

Claiming compensation for a Non-Freezing Cold Injury

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is responsible for keeping its staff safe and protected. As such, MoD must protect its employees from discrimination, effectively manage grievances, etc., just like every other employer. Another important task the Ministry of Defence must do is protect military personnel from injuries like NFCI by adhering the types of things we’ve listed here.

The bottom line is that the MoD owes you a duty of care to protect you from avoidable harm. As such, failure to carry out their responsibilities diligently should carry appropriate penalties/sanctions.

To this end, you may be entitled to compensation for your non-freezing cold injuries. That’s especially if your injury was due to negligence from the ministry of defence. Get in touch with your military accident solicitors to be sure of your chances of success with a compensation claim.

The MoD’s Duty of Care

  • Ensuring that staff have adequate and regular health/safety training, especially in foot care
  • Conducting frequent foot inspections
  • Regularly providing hot meals and drinks
  • Monitoring and reviewing weather conditions
  • Switching activity types in low temperatures
  • Providing adequate shelter
  • Reducing the timeframe military personnel must spend in icy areas
  • Providing appropriate protective clothing (for example, jungle-issue boots are not enough to protect soldiers in arctic regions)
  • Promptly referring affected persons to medical personnel
  • Listening and proffering solutions to complaints from NFCI sufferers
  • Ensuring that injured individuals don’t continue performing exercises that worsen their condition till they reach full recovery

How much compensation for a NFCI claim?

After evaluating your chances of a successful NFCI claim, the next step is to estimate your case’s worth. The truth is that pursuing an injury claim is a financial decision. No one wants to start a claim only to receive less monetary compensation than legal expenses. Evaluating your case’s value is a great way to determine if the claim is worth pursuing.

Unfortunately, there’s no standard compensation for military personnel suffering from non-freezing cold injuries. The damages you’ll receive in such situations depend on your particular circumstances and these factors:

  • Your age
  • The severity of your non-freezing cold injury
  • Whether you’ve been medically discharged from the armed forces
  • If you’re from the commonwealth, whether you’ve lost your British residency
  • How fast you can get alternative employment after discharge from military service, etc

Generally, the compensation you’ll receive for your non-freezing cold injuries will fall under:

General Damages

General damages primarily cover the pain and suffering your injury caused you. To determine your pain/suffering, you’ll undergo examinations from an independent medical expert to highlight your injury severity. Your medical report will also outline how long your injuries will take to heal.
The longer your recovery time and the more severe your injury is, the higher your chances of maximum compensation. NFCI can also cause mental anguish and reduce your quality of life. General damages will also cover those.

Special Damages

Under special damages, you’ll receive compensation for your out-of-pocket expenses. For example, special damages will reimburse you for the amount you paid to receive treatment for your NFCI. As such, it’s essential to keep receipts of any expenses you’ve made as evidence to prove your claims.
Note that special damages go beyond expenditures to include the financial losses you suffered due to the injury. For example, you may receive compensation for lost earnings, pension, and service benefits.

There remains no specific amount for NFCI claims. However, through the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme, the MoD pays about £6,000 – £10,800 to qualified individuals. Unfortunately, Guaranteed Income Payment (GIP) is unavailable for these claims. So, your compensation for NFCI will be higher if you are medically discharged.

What is the deadline for making a NFCI claim?

The time limit for making an NFCI claim is three years from the date of diagnosis. So, ensure you don’t waste time deciding whether to pursue a claim.

As mentioned above, the Ministry of Defence is like every other employer in the private sector. As such, they cannot discriminate against you for filing a claim. Therefore, you have nothing to worry about, especially when you work with an experienced solicitor.

Don’t Delay. Check Now.

Don’t miss out on £100’s or even £1,000’s in compensation you could be entitled to. Starting a claim only takes 5 minutes, so why not do it now?