Armed forces injury compensation claims
This article sets out everything you should know about making a successful armed forces accident compensation claim.
Military service brings obvious risks. Nevertheless, all members of army, navy, air force and royal marines have a right to protection from unnecessary danger. The Ministry of Defence have 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.
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.
I have a strong claim - why won't a solicitor take it on?
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
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
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.
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.
A 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 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.
A No Win, No Fee agreement, or Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA), forms an important part of most claims.
The document details the service your lawyer delivers and, most significantly, a percentage success fee that will be deducted from the award once the solicitor wins your claim.
You are able to focus on your rest and recovery, with the knowledge that there will be nothing to pay up front. There are absolutely no hidden costs working with a Quittance personal injury solicitor.
Meet the team
Quittance's nationwide panel of solicitors help injured people with all types of work accident claims and have a wealth of expertise with fast track, complex and catastrophic injury claims. Our solicitors are chosen on the basis of their success rate in winning claims and their specialist expertise.