A Guide to Claiming Royal Air Force Injury Compensation
Updated: Sep 2, 2019
The following guide considers what you should know about making a successful air force accident compensation claim.
Members of the RAF, with certain exceptions, are entitled to the same protection as the civilian population when it comes to claiming compensation for injuries and illnesses they sustain whilst going about their duties.
The Ministry of Defence, like any employer, has a duty to ensure that the proper safety measures are taken to minimise the risk of an accident occurring, whether on the ground or in the air. Where those measures are not taken, and injury is suffered as a result, the injured party may be entitled to armed forces injury compensation.
There are two main routes to claiming compensation for an injury or illness sustained while serving in the Air Force. The first is by making a civil personal injury claim. The second is to seek compensation through the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS).
Common air force injury claims
Members of the Royal Air Force may be exposed to the same type of risks in the course of their service as civilian workers, as well as risks that are specific to military service. These include:
- Slip, trip and fall accidents
- Defective equipment accidents
- Manual handling accidents
- Noise-induced hearing loss, for example, from the excessive noise of aircraft taking off and ordnance being used
- Cancers caused by exposure to hazardous materials such as asbestos.
This list is not exhaustive. Any member of the Royal Air Force who suffers an accident or illness as a result of their service may be eligible to claim compensation.
The only exception is if the injury occurred while engaging the enemy or while preparing for combat in war or warlike conditions. In conflict situations, the right to claim compensation against the MOD may be suspended under certain circumstances.
Combat immunity only applies where the injury was sustained as a direct result of the combat. Situations that are unrelated to the combat itself, such as injuries caused by defective equipment, are not generally caught by the provisions of combat immunity.
Making a civil claim against the Ministry of Defence
All employers, including the MOD, have a legal duty to protect their employees in the workplace. In the context of the Air Force, this includes ensuring:
- Service personnel have the property equipment to carry out their duties safely
- Flight and other equipment is maintained to the highest standards of repair and safety
- The work environment is kept in a safe condition to avoid slip, trip and fall hazards, or, for example, the blockage of emergency escape routes
- Service personnel are trained to lift and carry items safely, to avoid a manual handling injury
- Safety clothing and personal protective equipment such as hard hats, goggles, ear guards, breathing apparatus, heavy duty gloves and high-visibility jackets is provided where necessary
- Full training and supervision is given for all tasks and especially those with a higher-than-usual risk of accident, such as flight training and parachute activities
- Work schedules and resource allocations are properly monitored so that service personnel do not have to work for fatigue-inducing periods of time.
To make a successful claim, it must be shown that the MOD was negligent in some way, and their negligence caused the claimant's injuries. If negligence can be proven, the claim could be dealt with in the same way a member of the public would make an work accident claim against their employer.
No-fault accident compensation through the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme
If the accident occurred after 6th April 2005, it may also be possible to make a claim via the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme. The AFCS is a no-fault scheme, which means that the claimant does not have to show that the MOD was negligent.
Strict eligibility criteria and time limits apply, so it is important to follow the scheme rules. Read more about the AFCS here.
Choosing a route to compensation
In some circumstances, it may be possible to make a claim for compensation via the AFCS and still make a civil claim for damages. It is not possible to receive "double" compensation, however. The higher of the two settlements would usually be paid, and generally a civil claim will be the higher.
There are pros and cons to either route.
The best choice will depend on the claimant's personal circumstances and the nature of the injury. An experienced solicitor can provide full and confidential advice on how the claim could be made and what the implications are in each case.
No win, no fee, no risk
No Win, No Fee is an agreement with your solicitor (known as a Conditional Fee Agreement or CFA) that means that you can make a royal air force injury claim with:
- no upfront legal fees
- no solicitor's fees payable if your claim is not successful
- a success fee payable only if your claim is successful
No Win, No Fee is the most common way to make a compensation claim.
No win, no fee promise
If you have been injured through no fault of your own, our no win, no fee guarantee takes the risk out of claiming compensation for your royal air force injury.
What do I pay if I win my royal air force injury claim?
Your injury solicitor will receive a success fee which is deducted from your compensation, only after your compensation is awarded. 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 royal air force injury claim?
If your royal air force injury claim is not successful then you will not have to pay any fees.
How can Quittance help?
Our highly experienced panel of solicitors have an excellent track record of winning injury claims. Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you.
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:Call me back
No Win, No Fee
to start a claim
Royal Air Force 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 will my claim take?
The length of time needed to secure compensation can vary considerably.
For example, straightforward car accident claims can settle in a matter of weeks, whereas complex medical negligence cases can take years.
Injury claims can also take longer if it is not clear who is responsible for your injury, or if liability is denied by the defendant.
Taken from average case times, this table sets out approximately how long personal injury claims take to settle:
Personal injury claim type
Estimated claim duration*
4 to 9 months
6 to 9 months
12 to 36 months
12 to 18 months
6 to 9 months
3 to 4 months**
12 to 18 months**
**Official Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) Government agency and Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) figures.
Will I have to go to court?
Highly unlikely. The vast majority of claims that are settled by Quittance’s 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 interim compensation payment?
If you suffer financial hardship as a result of an injury, you may be able to claim interim compensation payments.
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