Soldier Sues MoD For Thousands Over Hearing Loss In Afghanistan
A former British Army tank driver is suing the Ministry of Defence for £167,000 over hearing damage he claims to have suffered after being deployed to Afghanistan without ear defenders.
In a court filing, lawyers for 31-year-old Simon Rigler say that he was ‘consistently exposed to loud noise during engagement with the enemy without appropriate hearing protection’ after his Army-issued ear defenders were mailed to his last UK posting rather than his base in Afghanistan, meaning he ‘never received them for the whole of his tour’.
Rigler says he had ‘perfect hearing’ prior to his deployment, but after being exposed to gunfire, mortar fire and noise from helicopters and tanks, he claims to have noticed a loss of hearing upon his return home in 2013, and subsequently failed a hearing test, leading him to be diagnosed with tinnitus and ‘high frequency sensorineural hearing loss’.
His lawyers claims that prior to his deployment, Rigler also suffered ear trauma while on training postings in the UK and Canada, with the Challenger 2 tank driver ‘exposed to very loud noise from the tanks’ as his personal radio meant he couldn’t wear proper ear defenders.
According to the Daily Mail, Rigler’s hearing loss is so severe as to qualify as a disability under the Equality Act. The veteran left the army in 2015 and currently works for a bus company, but has now brought a case against the Ministry of Defence, accusing them of ‘negligently’ exposing him to ‘excessive noise’.
It’s understood that Rigler’s case is among some 3,000 lawsuits brought by ex-service personnel over hearing loss suffered on tours of duty. In 2019, a former Royal Marine successfully sued the MoD for more than half a million pounds after suffering hearing damage he blamed on his time in service.
News of the lawsuit comes as the BBC reports that more than 300 soldiers are being assessed for hearing loss resulting from the Army’s new ‘Ajax’ armoured vehicle, with trials of the tank having been twice halted following complaints from soldiers.
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