Having become a trained soldier, I was eligible for various courses and I was signed up for my HGV licence for rigid lorries and provisionally booked onto a military plant-operators’ course.
Then I got knocked off my bike; my pelvis was quite badly broken and I had to leave the TA.
While I loved being a TA soldier, this has cost me some real money; my TA pay and all the other benefits that go with it, and I now cannot do my HGV or my plant operators course unless I pay for it. I told my solicitor about this and he has said the courts are not particularly interested in the loss of a hobby but I might get some extra money for ‘loss of amenity’, whatever that is.
I want my TA pay and I want those courses and I think the insurance company should pay for them. Am I right or am I greedy?
You are right, and you are not greedy. I’m aware of the selection process you went through, it is an extremely tough course and you are rightly proud of your achievement. You were clearly a dedicated TA soldier to put yourself, successfully, through that course.
Your solicitor is just plain wrong. The measure of damages in almost every jurisdiction in the world is that the wrongdoer must place his victim in as close a position as money allows to what their pre-injury position would have been. This concept of law goes back to the Roman Empire, so I would have hoped that your solicitor might be aware of it. Apparently not. I did check and he is a solicitor, which surprised me. Maybe he sat next to a clever person in his exams…
Your claim is easy to prove; your solicitor needs a statement from your Commanding Officer. In that, your CO needs to confirm that you were booked on for the HGV course and the plant operators’ course. It would be helpful if he would say what the average duration of service for a TA soldier in your unit is. Your solicitor then needs to start doing some work, including showing the costs of the civilian HGV and plant operators’ equivalent course, which will form part of your damages. Google should do it.
Loss of Amenity is an additional award which the courts place on people who have sustained an unusual loss as a result of an injury which cannot be reconciled by money.
Your loss can be very easily calculated as your loss of TA pay, which you told me was for a minimum of three of four training nights a month, at least one but usually two training weekends a month, one trade-specific course of about a fortnight, annual training camp and a tax-free ‘bounty’. By my reckoning, that comes to close to £3000 a year, and you have lost it.
If your CO says that the average engagement in the unit is, say, six years then you are looking at £18,000, with a bit of adjustment for inflation and interest. You also have the loss of amenity because you worked very hard indeed to join your unit and I think most Judges would stick £5000 on to your award because you put yourself through such a grim selection process to get to where you were. The civilian costs of your courses are recoverable as a matter of law, so long as the evidence supports it.
Get yourself a new solicitor. This answer is one which a bright second year undergraduate in law would be able to give you. A solicitor should be able to gather evidence and understand basic concepts of the law of damages. After all, it is their job. Your solicitor is either lazy or useless. Finally, you are not being greedy.
RiDE Magazine December 2020