The shadowy mercenary organization may no longer be above the law, as it now faces a lawsuit in Great Britain’s High Court.
Lawyers said they targeted Wagner Group global assets. Lawyers also hope the action will preoccupy Kremlin officials. “Together we can shake and peel this Russian doll until its hidden layers reveal that its treasure is for us to claim and to give to Ukrainians for justice,” one of the attorneys told the media. The mercenary group, which was originally staffed by veterans of the Russian armed forces, has fought in Libya, Syria, the Central African Republic, and Mali, among other countries.
Attorneys also hope that a successful outcome includes a declaration that Russia sponsored global terrorism.
Civil War Union General William T. Sherman, who was something of an expert on this subject, seemingly endorsed wartime atrocities. “War is cruelty,” he wrote to a colleague. “There is no use trying to reform it. The crueler it is, the sooner it will be over.” Cruelty aimed at military personnel and military targets is one thing. These individuals knew what they signed up for. Cruelty against civilians is something else.
Usually, there’s a very fine line between these two kinds of cruelty. America’s strategic warfare campaign against Japan in World War II is a good example. Army Air Force General Curtis “Bombs Away” LeMay headed this effort. LeMay ordered airplanes to drop mines in Japanese harbors as part of what the AAF called Operation Starvation.
Additionally, LeMay shifted from high-altitude strategic bombing with high-explosive ordnance to low-altitude strategic bombing with incendiary ordnance. The raids destroyed about 40% of cities like Tokyo, Yokohama, Nagoya, and Osaka, making over eight million people homeless. As many as one million Japanese civilians may have been killed. Of course, to many Americans, this destruction was simply collateral damage which, while regrettable, is inevitable.
The aggressive bombing campaign culminated with the use of atomic bombs, an action that remains controversial to this day. Some claim it shortened the war, saving lives on both sides. Others claim it was a brutal and unnecessary use of force against a nearly-defeated enemy.
Apropos of nothing, Lt. Robert McNamara, the future secretary of defense, may have planted the firebombing idea in LeMay’s mind. McNamara later said that had the war turned out differently, LeMay and his subordinates probably would have faced war crimes charges.
Mercenary atrocities often go beyond the destruction of property. These atrocities include sexual assaults, forced labor, and even murder. Frequently, these soldiers believe their acts were justified, especially at the time. A military tribunal, civil court, or other body must decide the truth of the matter later.
Private military contractors are almost never guilty of wartime atrocities, no matter how this phrase is defined. U.S. law limits private military contractors to defensive operations. Additionally, most contractors are mechanics, technicians, military trainers, and other non-combatants.
Types of Injuries
Contractor participation in combat activities may be limited. But contractors are still in war zones, which means injury potential is high.
Trauma injuries, like combat wounds or training accidents, account for many of these wounds. Usually, a minor injury quickly becomes a serious injury.
Most field hospitals and other available medical facilities in places like Syria are little more than first-aid stations. Doctors stabilize patients, but that’s about it, at least in most cases. Proper treatment requires air evacuation to a larger military hospital, which is usually in a different country or maybe on a different continent. In many situations, delayed medical treatment is almost like no medical treatment.
Some trauma injuries are not visible injuries. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a good example. Extremely stressful events, like being in combat, changes brain chemistry. The imbalance causes symptoms like depression, anger, and hypervigilance. PTSD and other brain injuries aren’t curable. But they are manageable, given proper medication and therapy.
Overseas contractors also risk occupational diseases, like toxic exposure issues. It is illegal to use chlorine gas and other toxic substances in combat. However, it is legal to store these weapons. Incidental toxic exposure, perhaps from burn pit smoke, is an even bigger problem.
PTSD could be a trauma injury or an occupational disease. Individuals who experience several mildly traumatic events often develop complex PTSD, a condition that is similar to uncomplicated PTSD, the trauma version of this condition.
Injury Compensation Available
Whether a victim is temporarily disabled by a trauma injury or permanently disabled by an occupational disease, lost wage replacement is critical to the injury recovery process. Financial stress increases personal stress, making recovery difficult. So, to ease this financial stress and help injured contractors return to work as quickly as possible, the Defense Base Act includes several lost wage replacement models.
- Temporary Total Disability: Most trauma injury victims are TTD victims. Until they fully recover and their doctors clear them, they cannot work. The DBA usually pays two-thirds of a victim’s average weekly wage for the duration of any temporary disability. Most TTD victims, and other DBA victims, may choose their own doctors.
- Temporary Partial Disability: Many temporary disabilities involve very long recovery periods. As victims improve physically, mentally, and otherwise, they can often work on a limited basis. The DBA pays two-thirds of the difference between the old and new incomes in such situations. So, these victims can work and get better at the same time.
- Permanent Total Disability: A “disability” is not just a medical issue. Generally, people are disabled if they cannot work mostly due to their medical conditions. Vocational, educational, economic, and other factors also come into play. Frequently, DBA lawyers partner with vocational experts to ascertain the complete extent of a disability.
- Permanent Partial Disability: Many PPD victims have trauma injuries that never fully heal. For example, if Pete seriously injures his shoulder, he may never regain full range of motion in the joint. He is also at risk for further injuries, such as frozen shoulder. The DBA generally pays a lump sum in all permanent disability claims.
DBA benefits also include reasonable medical bill payments. This category includes all direct and indirect medical expenses.
Pre-existing conditions often affect injury risk and/or severity. Usually, full benefits are available in these cases. A DBA lawyer must only prove the job-related illness or injury substantially, or mostly, caused the current injury or illness.
For more information about medical bill payment, contact Barnett, Lerner, Karsen, Frankel & Castro, P.A.