Armed Forces Medical Negligence Compensation Claims

If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by medical negligence while serving in the UK's armed forces, you may be entitled to claim compensation.

Claiming injury compensation with a solicitor

You can make an armed forces injury compensation claim with the help and support of a personal injury solicitor.

Your solicitor will ask you about what happened, and they will collect evidence to prove what caused your injuries. Your solicitor will also work out how much money you can claim, based on your injuries, lost earnings and other expenses.

We can help you make an armed forces injury claim on a No Win No Fee basis.

In this article

Introduction

According to Government statistics there are currently around 150,000 serving UK Forces Service personnel - including trained and untrained Regular, Full time and Reserves.

In 2018/19 reported injury and ill health incidents to personnel (including MOD civilians) increased to 21,975 - 30% of them were reportable under RIDDOR.

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 your treatment fell below medically acceptable standards, and directly caused you harm, then you may be able to bring a claim for clinical negligence.

Your right to claim exists whether you were treated by a medical professional employed by the MOD or by the NHS. It also applies whether the original accident (the reason why your treatment was required) 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.

Will I have to go to court?

Highly unlikely. Solicitors settle the vast majority of claims out of court.

Less than 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 decided by a judge or magistrate, not a jury.

Even if the claim does go to court, it is very unlikely you will have to attend.

Read more:

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

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 injury 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 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%. Your solicitor will agree a success fee with you before you start your claim.

What do I pay if I do not win my injury claim?

If your injury 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.

What is Legal Aid available for?

In 2000, the government abolished the right to legal aid in personal injury law cases. Depending on an individual's circumstances, Legal Aid may be available for discrimination cases, criminal cases, family mediation and court or tribunal representation.

How we can help you

Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you, and 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
  • 9.30am to 5pm on Sunday

Call us for FREE advice on 0800 376 1001, or arrange a call back from a friendly, legally-trained advisor:

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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.

Read more:

Claiming on behalf of another person.

Can I claim if I feel I was partly responsible for my accident?

Yes. You may still be able to claim compensation even if your actions may have contributed to the accident.

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:

Claiming compensation if you were partly responsible for an accident.

How long do I have to make an injury claim?

In general, you have a time limit of up to 3 years from the date of the injury to make an injury claim.

The last date you can make a claim is known as the claim limitation date - after which your injury claim becomes 'statute barred'.

Can I claim for an 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 376 1001 to find out if you are still able to claim injury compensation.

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

Calculate your claim limitation date

Will I have to visit a solicitor's office to start a claim?

No. You will not need visit a solicitor's office. Personal injury claims are handled by email, post and phone.

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?

I need the money now - what are my options?

If you are unable to work and have bills to pay, you may be able to claim an interim compensation payment.

An interim payment is an advance on your compensation payment. Any amount you receive in interim payments would be deducted from your final compensation payment.

Read more:

How to I get an interim compensation payment?

Howard Willis, Personal injury solicitor

Author:
Howard Willis, Personal injury solicitor