Freezing and Non-freezing Cold Injuries Update

May 30, 2022

In this article, catastrophic injury and military law specialist Chris Allen examines the recent development in valuing NFCI and other cold injuries.

The 16th Edition of the Judicial College Guidelines for the Assessment of General Damages in Personal Injury Cases was published on April 2022 and for the first time the guidelines contain a bespoke section dedicated to cold injuries.

Contained within the Work-Related Limb Disorder Section, Chapter 8(c) Cold Injuries states;

These injuries encompass freezing cold injuries (such as frostnip or frostbite) and non-freezing cold injuries.

  • Less serious cases of long-term cold sensitisation of the hands only or feet only, resulting in intermittent discomfort or pain in cold conditions which are manageable with warm clothing or by limiting cold exposure. Around £15,000.
  • Aggravating features taking an award above that level will include: (i) symptoms affecting both hands and feet; (ii) an inability to manage the symptoms (with warm clothing or heating); (iii) continuous (rather than intermittent) discomfort or pain in cold conditions; (iv) the additional immediate impact of a freezing cold injury; (v) effect on employability or amenity. Cases involving a combination of aggravating features will justify greater awards. The combination of chronic pain and sweating in hands and feet with difficulty being outdoors in colder months, acute psychological symptoms, and probable acceleration of future joint problems warrants an award in the region of £32,500.
  • The most severe cases, resulting in permanent neuropathic pain and significantly impaired mobility or dexterity, should be assessed by reference to Chapter 9: Chronic Pain.

This is a significant development for those who specialise in military cases as it provides more authoritative guidance on how to value a general damages for cold injuries.