A Guide to Claiming Armed Forces Injury Compensation
If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by a military and armed forces injury we can help.
The purpose of this guide is to help anyone who has suffered a military and armed forces injury and is considering a legal claim for compensation. If you are looking for medical advice, please see the NHS website.
Military service brings obvious risks. Nevertheless, all members of the army, navy, air force and royal marines have a right to protection from unnecessary danger. The Ministry of Defence has a responsibility to provide a safe working environment just as other employers do.
Historically, it was difficult to claim compensation for some injuries sustained while serving in the military. Recent legislation has made it easier for many to receive compensation for their injuries. The Armed Forces Compensation Scheme processed 21,500 successful claims between April 2005 and September 2013.
Can you claim compensation?
If you have been injured when serving in the armed forces, the process for claiming compensation differs from that of a normal personal injury claim.
There are two main routes to compensation for an injury or illness sustained while serving in the armed forces. These are:
- through the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS), or
- making a civil claim
The AFCS is a non-fault process, meaning that it only needs to be demonstrated that the injury or illness was caused in the course of the injured party's service.
Blame or fault does not need to be proved. This is useful if it is not clear who or what caused the accident.
In a civil claim, it is necessary to show who was at fault, that they owed the injured party a duty of care, and that the injury or illness was caused by their negligence.
Using the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS)
The AFCS time limits for a claim to be lodged with Veterans UK (formerly the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency) is 7 years from the date of the accident.
If an injury or illness only becomes apparent some years later, after a diagnosis, or you realise they were as a result of service some time later, a claim must be made within 3 years of this discovery.
The AFCS provides compensation for pain and suffering only, according to fixed tariffs. In the most serious of cases this may be paid in the form of a guaranteed monthly payment for life following discharge.
The AFCS covers injuries or illnesses caused after 6th April 2005.
Time limits for armed forces injury compensation claims
If your injuries or illness were caused before this date you can still make a claim, but through the War Pension Scheme. The Veterans Agency offers more information on this route.
Serving personnel can also claim through the AFCS.
Making a civil claim
As with other personal injury claims, you have three years from the date of the injury, or your discovery of the injury.
In addition to general damages for pain, suffering and loss of amenity, civil claim can include claims for treatment, ongoing care, lost earnings and any other expenses associated with the injury.
For injuries suffered in the theatre of war, it is not usually possible to make a civil claim. There are examples where decisions made by Government on issues such as supply of equipment may cause the injuries to occur, and it may be possible to make a claim under such circumstances.
Claiming compensation for injuries sustained in a combat scenario can be complex. Quittance's specialist solicitors will be able to provide clear and confidential advice if you decide to take this further.
Which route to compensation should you choose?
There are benefits and downsides to either route, and the best choice for you will depend on your circumstances and the nature of your injury.
Seek the advice of an expert solicitor who will advise you on how your claim could be made and what the implications and possibilities are.
Can you claim through both routes?
It is possible to make a claim through both the AFCS and civil routes, but you will not receive 'double' compensation. The higher of the two awards or settlements would be paid.
More Armed Forces injury claims advice
If you have any questions and would like more detailed advice from a specialist solicitor, call Quittance on 0800 612 7456 or request a callback for a confidential free consultation.
How could compensation help you?
The Courts recognise that injuries can significantly affect both an injured person and their dependants.
In the case of civil claims, our network of specialist expert solicitors have a track record of securing compensation awards:
- for pain and suffering and loss of amenity
- to reimburse any medical expenses such as physiotherapy
- to reimburse any other expenses or damage to personal property
- to cover any loss of earnings including those anticipated in the future
How we can help your claim
Guiding injured parties to a successful outcome, Quittance's specialist solicitors have supported military and ex-military personnel in a wide range of cases.
Support can include obtaining highly-specialised medical evidence, arranging treatment, rehabilitation and ongoing care and advising on options for retraining in new skills to pursue a new career.
Quittance's solicitors have assisted with many military injury claims. Some of the common types of injury sustained in the services are:
- Injuries caused by inadequate training
- Injuries resulting from negligent instructions from a superior officer
- Equipment failure during training and combat situations
- Fast-roping injuries
- Fire and explosive accidents
- Noise-induced hearing loss
- Cold injuries
- Road traffic accidents and other vehicle-related incidents
How a compensation settlement is calculated in a civil claim
Recommendations for general damages awards are made by the Judicial College and published in personal injury awards guidelines. These guidelines are reviewed on a regular basis. These awards are calculated in relation to the nature and severity of an injury. They are set out in the form of upper and lower values for a specific injury.
Neck injuries resulting in severe muscle damage, for example, should receive general damages of between £36,740 an £45,265, according to the guidelines.
Allowing for special cases, these recommendations are generally followed and most insurers and solicitors will refer to the guidelines when calculating compensation for an accident or illness.
In matters where an existing condition or injury has been exacerbated as a result of the illness or accident, it could be possible to claim for compensation too.
In civil claims, lost earnings (including future loss of earnings while you are unable to work), expenses resulting from the accident or illness, and medical treatment costs may be claimed for in many cases, and are referred to as special damages.
How long will it take to my receive compensation?
Veterans UK aim to process AFCS claims within six months. For some simpler civil claims, compensation is usually also settled within a matter of months.
More complex cases, such as claims for injuries sustained in the theatre of war, are likely to take more time to conclude.
It is difficult to predict, within any degree of accuracy, how much time will be needed to agree an settlement. In some cases it can benefit the claimant to hold out for a higher offer as this can result in a larger settlement.
You can get a better estimate of how long your military injury claim will take, talk to a solicitor on 0800 612 7456 or by completing a five-minute Compensation Report form.
What is the likelihood of winning your claim for compensation?
An AFCS claim is no-fault, meaning that you do not need to prove who caused your injuries. It only needs to be demonstrated that the injuries occurred in the course of your service. For this reason, an AFCS claim may have a better chance of success than claiming through the civil route.
To win a civil claim, you must show that another party, e.g. the MoD, was the cause of your injury.
The claim has a good chance of success if the other side has acknowledged their responsibility for the accident or illness.
If the defendant will not acknowledge that they were at fault, or insists that you were partly responsible, you may be less likely to succeed in your claim.
You should, therefore, do whatever you can to strengthen your claim. Your solicitor will advise on a recommended course of action.
The first thing you should do after suffering an injury is to report it following the appropriate procedure and seek medical attention.
In addition to aiding recovery, treatment also provides important records of your initial injuries which can be used by your solicitor and medical expert later to help document your claim.
You can also:
- gather statements and contact details from witnesses
- take photos of the scene of the accident if possible
- report the accident to the appropriate authorities
These steps are still worth taking even if some time has passed since the injury was sustained.
No win, no fee - the facts
Under a no win, no fee agreement (referred to as a 'Conditional Fee Agreement' or 'CFA') you can make an armed forces injury claim without the worry of upfront legal fees. If your armed forces injury claim is unsuccessful you won't have to pay any money to your solicitor.
No win, no fee promise
If you have been injured and it wasn't your fault, our no win, no fee guarantee takes the risk out of claiming compensation for your armed forces injury.
What do I pay if I win my armed forces injury claim?
Your injury solicitor will receive a success fee which is deducted from your compensation, after your claim is settled. The solicitor's success fee can be up to 25%. You and your solicitor can agree the success fee before you start your claim.
What do I pay if I do not win my armed forces injury claim?
If your armed forces injury claim is not successful then you won't have to pay your solicitor any fees. Your solicitor may take out insurance to ensure there will be nothing to pay.
Can I get Legal Aid?
Legal aid is no longer available when making a personal injury claim, but a Conditional Fee Agreement (No Win, No Fee) can reduce the financial risks of making a claim.
How can Quittance help?
Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you, the highly-experienced panel of solicitors have an excellent track record of winning injury claims.
If you have any questions, or would like to start a No Win No Fee claim, we are open 8am to 9pm weekdays, 9am to 6pm on Saturday, and 9.30am to 5pm on Sunday.
Call us FREE 0800 612 7456 or arrange a callback:
if you can claim
to start a claim
Armed forces injury FAQ's
Can I claim for someone else?
Yes. In certain circumstances, it is possible to claim compensation on behalf of another person in the capacity of a 'litigation friend'.
If an injured person is either too young or vulnerable, too injured or otherwise unable to claim on their own behalf, their litigation friend can handle the claim process on behalf of the injured person.
The litigation friend will be responsible for communicating with the solicitors, and for making decisions in respect of the claim.
Can I claim if I was partly responsible for an accident?
You may still be able to claim compensation even if you contributed to your accident or to your injuries.
However, if you were partly to blame (known as contributory negligence), your compensation may be reduced and it may be more difficult to prove liability.
How long do I have to make an armed forces injury claim?
In general, you have a time limit of up to 3 years from the date of the armed forces injury to make an injury claim.
The last date you can make a claim is known as the claim limitation date - after which your armed forces injury claim becomes 'statute barred'.
Can I claim for an armed forces injury after 3 years?
Possibly. The general rule for adults is that a claim must be started within three years.
However, the three-year countdown starts on the day you learned of your injury or illness. This will usually be the date of the accident, but could be the date your doctor gave you a diagnosis.
If you were injured as a child, you do have up until your 21st birthday to make a claim.
There other circumstances that can also impact the limitation date. Call us now on 0800 612 7456 to find out if you are still able to claim armed forces injury compensation.
In reality, there are a number of factors that can affect whether an armed forces injury claim will be taken on by a solicitor.
Will I have to go to court?
Highly unlikely. The vast majority of claims that are settled by the solicitor panel are settled out of court.
Only a very small percentage (approx. 5%) of personal injury claims go to court. Generally, only very complex cases, or those where liability cannot be resolved, end up in court.
Cases that do ultimately go to court are held in front of a judge, not a jury.
Will I have to go to a solicitor's office?
No. You will not need visit a solicitor's office. As with most professional services, it is no longer necessary to meet face to face with your solicitor. Personal injury claims are dealt with via email, post and telephone.
Should you need to have a medical, this will be arranged at a medical centre near you or at your GP's surgery.
Can I get an early compensation payment?
If you suffer financial hardship as a result of an injury, you may be able to claim an interim compensation payment.
An interim payment is a partial settlement of your claim which is paid before your claim is concluded. The amount you receive in interim payments would then be deducted from your final compensation settlement or award.
About the author
Gaynor Haliday is an experienced legal researcher and published author. She has had numerous articles published in the press and is a legal industry commentator.
Read more about this Quittance Legal Expert