Armed Forces Medical Negligence Compensation Claims

If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by armed forces medical negligence we can help.

The purpose of this guide is to help anyone who has suffered armed forces medical negligence and is considering a legal claim for compensation. If you are looking for medical advice, please see the NHS website.

In our guide to claiming armed forces medical negligence compensation:

Introduction

According to Government statistics there are currently around 196,000 serving UK Forces Service personnel - including trained and untrained Regular, Full time and Reserves.

Over a 5 year period between April 2010 and March 2015 reported injury and ill health incidents to personnel (including MOD civilians) totalled 42,640 - 37% of them classified as major or serious.

Armed forces compensation claims are made in relation to a wide range of injuries and illness sustained by members of the military. In some cases it may be possible to make a clinical negligence claim if the serviceperson's injury occurred as the result of negligent medical treatment.

Surgeons in theatre

Defence Medical Services

Medical, dental and related support services are provided to service personnel by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and the National Health Service (NHS) through Ministry of Defence Hospital Units (MDHU) - military healthcare facilities, embedded within a civilian hospital or NHS hospital, under the umbrella of the Defence Medical Services (DMS)

Encompassing the entire medical, dental, nursing, allied health professionals, paramedical and support personnel, the primary role of the DMS is to promote, protect and restore the health of service personnel to ensure that they are ready and medically fit to go where they are required in the UK and throughout the world.

Working alongside civil servants and other supporting units, personnel from all 3 services - regulars and reserves - provide healthcare to service personnel in the UK, abroad, at sea; and in some circumstances family dependants of service personnel and entitled civilians.

The DMS is headed by the Surgeon General, whose responsibilities include:

  • setting the overall direction on all clinical matters relating to the practice of military medicine
  • setting and auditing the professional performance of all military medical personnel
  • setting clinical and medical policies and standards, and auditing compliance by military organisations across defence
  • providing a comprehensive healthcare system that achieves the appropriate timely healthcare to service and other entitled personnel

Clinical negligence in the military

Medical care provided by the DMS is generally of a very high standard.

A patient may, however, receive the wrong treatment for his condition, or treatment may be delayed through misdiagnosis or a healthcare professional failing to carry out adequate tests to identify an injury. A patient's health may further deteriorate as a result, or recovery may take much longer.

If it can be demonstrated that the treatment fell below medically acceptable standards, and directly caused pain and suffering, then it may be possible to bring a claim for clinical negligence.

The right to claim exists whether the patient was treated by a medical professional employed by the MOD or by the NHS. It also applies whether the original accident happened during active operations or not.

When to claim

It is rarely recommended that service personnel delay bringing a claim until they have been discharged from or left the forces.

Under most circumstances clinical negligence cases should be started in the Court no more than three years after the date of the accident or date that the patient became aware of their injury.

However, in addition to the civil route to making a claim, there are other options available to service personnel.

The Armed Forces Compensation Scheme

If the original accident occurred after 6th April 2005, it may be possible to make a personal injury compensation claim via the no-fault Armed Forces Compensation Scheme.

Claims can be under the scheme within a 7 year time limit of the injury, although the compensation paid out is often less than would be awarded through a civil Court.

The War Pensions system

For those whose injury occurred prior to 6th April 2005 a claim may be made through the War Pension system. Eligibility to claim only comes into effect upon discharge.

How does no win, no fee work?

Under a no win, no fee agreement, your solicitor agrees that you will have no legal fees to pay if you do not winn your claim .

No win, no fee guarantee

Our no win, no fee guarantee means there is no financial risk in making an armed forces medical negligence claim - even if you don't win your claim. Read more about making a No win, no fee claim

What do I pay if I win my armed forces medical negligence 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%. Your solicitor will agree a success fee with you before you start your claim.

What do I pay if I do not win my armed forces medical negligence claim?

If your armed forces medical negligence claim is not successful then you do not have to pay any legal fees . Your solicitor may take out insurance to ensure there will be nothing to pay.

How do personal injury solicitors get paid?

If your armed forces medical negligence claim is successful, the defendant, or their insurer, will pay the compensation and your solicitors fees.

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:

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Armed forces medical negligence 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.

Read more about claiming on behalf of another person.

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.

Read more about claiming compensation if you were partly responsible for an accident.

How long do I have to make an armed forces medical negligence claim?

In general, you have a time limit of up to 3 years from the date of the armed forces medical negligence 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 medical negligence claim becomes 'statute barred'.

Can I claim for an armed forces medical negligence 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 medical negligence compensation.

In reality, there are a number of factors that can affect whether an armed forces medical negligence claim will be taken on by a solicitor.

Calculate your claim limitation date

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.

Read more: Will my injury claim go to court and what if it does?

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.

Read more: Will I have to visit a solicitor's office?

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.

Read more about interim compensation payments.

Howard Willis, Personal injury solicitor

About the author

Howard qualified as a solicitor in 1984 and has specialised in personal injury for over 25 years. He is a member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) and is a recognised Law Society Personal Injury Panel expert.

Read more about this Quittance Legal Expert