Injuries, both physical and psychological, can be career ending for military personnel. They can also have lifelong consequences for your health, wellbeing and ability to find other employment outside of the Armed Forces. We know that Forces personnel often receive confusing or inaccurate information about their right to claim compensation for military injuries, so it is essential to seek specialist legal advice as soon as possible to make sure you don’t miss out.
At Wolferstans, we are proud to act on behalf of serving and ex Armed Forces personnel, and their families, in connection with all types of accident claim. This includes claims against the Ministry of Defence (MOD) for injuries that occur during service, as well as accidents and injuries outside of work.
Our military injury solicitors can advise you on your right to claim and the process for doing so, including claims under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS) and separate civil claims (which can be pursued alongside an AFCS claim). We want you to get the full compensation available, so you can rebuild your life and move on as soon as possible.
We offer “No Win, No Fee” military claims, meaning there is usually no upfront cost or financial risk for starting a claim. We also offer a free initial consultation, so we can talk through your situation with you and give clear, practical advice about whether we believe your claim merits further investigation and how the claims process works.
The support we provide does not end at simply getting your compensation. We can also assist you with effectively managing your compensation, so you get the most out of any funds you receive. Our team can also help you to access appropriate rehabilitation and care support through our extensive network of medical experts and care providers, as well as connecting you with relevant charities and other organisations.
Our military claims team understands how important your service career is to you. By giving you the right advice at the right time, we can get you the best support for your injuries while allowing you to maintain a positive relationship with the service you have given so much to.
Our expertise with military compensation claims
With many years of experience helping serving personnel, veterans and their families to claim against the Ministry of Defence and other parties, we can provide tried and tested expertise in all types of military claims, including those related to:
- Personal injuries
- Training injuries
- Injuries on operations or on an exercise
- Accidents at work
- Injuries caused by defective or inappropriate equipment
- Exposure to toxic substances
- Military hearing loss claims
- Road traffic accidents involving Armed Forces personnel
- Stress at work
- Bullying and assault
- Cold injuries, including Non-Freezing Cold Injury (NFCI)
- Heat injuries
- Hearing loss
- Head injuries
- Spinal injuries
- Failure to observe medical limitations
- Off duty accidents
Wolferstans are members of the Forces Law Network and receive regular training on issues that are relevant to our armed forces community’.
Wolferstans have access to a wide range of medical and other experts, as well as Barristers, and we will be able to help you to recover compensation for the injuries that you have suffered.
Thanks to our strong expertise in negotiating out-of-court settlements for military claims, it is rare that you will need to attend a court hearing, with most claims settled voluntarily by the MOD or other defendant.
We are familiar with the pay and pension structures that apply to Armed Forces personnel and the procedures for medical downgrade and discharge. This means we can make sure you always get the maximum possible support, no matter how complicated your circumstances.
How to claim for an injury sustained in service
Depending on when your injury occurred and the circumstances of your injury, there are three main ways you can claim compensation. We will be happy to advise you on the available options during your initial consultation with our military injury lawyers.
The following is a brief overview of the three main types of military injury claims you can make:
Civil claims against the MOD and other parties
It is often necessary to pursue a civil personal injury claim against the MOD or another party to ensure you get the full amount of compensation you are entitled to and that you are able to meet your needs.
Key points about civil claims for military injuries:
- All personnel whether serving or civilian can make a civil claim
- You can start a civil claim at the same time as making an AFCS or War Pension Scheme claim (see below)
- There is a standard 3-year time limit to make a claim, although limited exceptions may apply (e.g. for military hearing loss claims)
- There is no upper limit to the amount of compensation that is potentially available
- AFCS is tariff based and does not take account of individual circumstances and so civil awards tend to be higher
To find out more about making a claim or to book a free initial appointment with our military injury solicitors, please get in touch.
Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS)
If your injury or illness was the result of, or was made worse by, something that occurred on or after 6 April 2005, you may be able to make a claim under the AFCS.
Key points to know about AFCS claims:
- All personnel whether serving or civilian can claim under the AFCS
- It is not necessary to show that someone was at fault in order for compensation to be awarded.
- AFCS compensation payments can range from £1,236 to £650,000
- Your claim must usually be submitted within 7 years of the injury occurring
- Depending on the circumstances, you may also be able to make a civil claim at the same time
Claims under the War Pension Scheme
If your claim relates to an incident that occurred before 6 April 2005, you will need to claim through the War Pension Scheme.
Key points to know about War Pension Scheme claims:
- All personnel whether serving or civilian can make a civil claim under the War Pension Scheme
- You do not need to show someone was at fault to be entitled to compensation
- You can receive a lump sum and/or an ongoing pension depending on the seriousness of your injuries
- There is no time limit to submit a claim
- You will usually be outside of the time limit to make a civil claim, although there are some limited exceptions that may apply
Common questions about military injury claims
We know that there is a lot of false information floating around about claiming compensation for Armed Forces personnel. Unfortunately, this means people often miss out on getting compensation they are entitled to for a variety of reasons, including:
- Uncertainty over whether they have grounds for a claim
- Missing the deadline to claim
- Not knowing what different types of compensation are available
The following are some of the most common questions we hear about military injury claims and the key points we think you need to know to help ensure you don’t miss out on the opportunity to make a claim.
Have a question we haven’t answered? Please get in touch.
How do I know if I have a claim for compensation?
Wolferstans’ specialist lawyers will be happy to advise you whether there is enough evidence for you to be able to make a claim. We will meet with you, talk with you on the telephone or email you about whether your case would benefit from further investigation and whether we are able to help.
To claim compensation for injury, disease or illness, you must show that this was caused at least in part by the negligence of another.
If your accident happened whilst you were serving, this will often be the MOD (not the colleagues you were working with at the time) or a third party engaged by the MOD to provide services or equipment.
If your accident happened outside of work, your claim may be against another driver or a Highway Authority responsible for repairing the road, for example. Each case is different.
Are there any time limits for civil claims against the MOD?
A claim for compensation must normally be started within 3 years of the date of an accident that causes injury. There are exceptions, but it is important to seek advice as soon as possible.
As well as accident claims, Wolferstans also has a specialist team that deals with deafness and other industrial disease arising out of service. Special rules apply in respect of time limits. If you think this may be relevant to you, please enquire.
Even if you think you may be out of time, you should call us to seek advice. The rules depend on the individual case. We will be able to advise you whether you are out of time and whether there may be some way forward despite this.
Can I claim compensation for a military injury while still serving?
Yes. You may have been told that you are not allowed to make a claim for negligence until after you have left the service. This is not correct and can lead to injured personnel being out of time for making a claim.
What is combat immunity?
There is an important exception specific to the Armed Forces when it may not be possible to make a claim. This is the principle of “Combat Immunity”.
Combat immunity means that proceedings cannot normally be brought for injuries caused in the theatre of war. However, there have been recent inroads into this principle which means the issue is not always this clear cut.
A key point to understand is that there is a distinction between decisions taken on the battlefield and those taken in Whitehall. As an example, decisions in respect of procurement of equipment and training can fall outside of this principle.
Our specialist military solicitors have the experience and up-to-date expertise to accurately advise on whether the principle of combat immunity applies to your claim.
How much compensation will I receive for my injury?
We will not be able to give you an answer immediately. It will be necessary to assess the impact that your injury has on your personal life and armed forces career before we are able to say how much you should receive.
Our military claims team will be able to advise you at the beginning whether your claim is worth pursuing and will attempt to give a realistic indication of the level of compensation that is potentially available as soon as possible.
There are two main types of compensation when pursuing a civil injury claim, covering your pain and suffering and any financial losses you have experienced or expect to experience in future due to your injuries.
Compensation for pain and suffering
We will obtain reports from medical experts who can tell us the extent of your injury and whether you will make a full recovery or whether your condition may deteriorate in the future. If your injury is serious, we may need to obtain evidence from several experts.
We will then advise you how much compensation you are likely to receive for pain and suffering. We will do this by comparing your injuries with cases that have been decided by the Court in the past. This will allow us to get an idea of how much a Judge will order the defendant to pay if the case goes to Trial.
We will help you to work out what financial losses you have suffered. If your career is cut short, or promotion is delayed, this could substantially affect your pay and pension, both during and after service. We will take into consideration any allowances and enhanced pay that may apply.
We will also be able to claim in respect of any benefits of service that you lose, for example, the cost of free health and dental care. Our military solicitors can instruct trusted experts who will be able to work this out for you.
We will also advise you in respect of other losses that you can claim, such as aids and equipment and adaptations to your home, care provided by family members and commercial care, where appropriate. We will advise you in respect of other reasonable expenses.
We will investigate these losses for you and prepare a list. We will try to reach an agreement with the Defendant in respect of those losses or present your case in this regard to the Court.
Do I need to claim under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme before making a civil claim?
You can make a civil claim at the same time as applying for an award under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS) or War Pension Scheme. This is something we usually recommend as injury awards under the AFCS are tariff based and you may be awarded more by a Civil Court. There may also be losses which you cannot recover under the AFCS.
It is worth noting that the law does not allow “double recovery”, so if you are awarded compensation under the AFCS this will be offset against any other claim that you make.
We would advise you not to wait until the result of your Application under AFCS is known before making a civil claim as this could result in you being out of time in making a civil claim.
How can I fund a military compensation claim?
This is a common concern, but not something that should ever put you off making a claim as there are various options to help you cover the cost of claiming military injury compensation, no matter your circumstances.
The most important thing to realise is that, if your claim is successful, the defendant will pay most of our fees and expenses.
There are various ways of funding your military claim. The most common are:
Conditional Fee Agreement – This is commonly known as a “No Win, No Fee” agreement and means we will not charge you anything upfront to start a claim and our fees will only apply if we win compensation for you. We represent most of our clients on a “No Win, No Fee” basis and, where this option is available, it may be the best option for you.
Legal Expenses Insurance – You may have insurance for legal costs through an existing policy, such as your home contents or motor insurance. If you have specialist Armed Forces insurance, PAX, for example, legal expenses may be covered. We will check whether you have any such cover and, if you do, will contact the insurance company for you, to see whether there is any advantage in using that insurance to fund the cost of your case. You can choose to instruct the firm you want, even if it is not on the insurance companies’ panel.
Paying privately – You can pay privately if you wish and have the funds available to do so.
What happens after I receive compensation for a military injury?
It is really important to think about what you will do with any compensation you receive to make sure you get the most out of the funds you receive. We can advise you on the various options for managing military injury compensation.
Protecting your means-tested benefits
If you receive an award of compensation, that may affect your entitlement to means-tested benefits and put them at risk. You can protect your entitlement to your benefits by setting up a Personal Injury Trust at the end of the case. We have a specialist team of trusts solicitors who will be happy to advise you in this regard.
Investing your compensation
Where you have received substantial compensation, you will usually need to invest the funds to make sure they maintain their value in line with inflation over the years. Investing your compensation requires thought and often specialist advice. We can refer you to an appropriate advisor on request.
Book your free initial consultation with our military claims lawyers in Plymouth
Have a question? Get in touch.
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Wolferstans LLP is a limited liability partnership, registered in England and Wales (registered number OC433921) which is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority with number 811913. (Plymstock Office SRA number 819159; Plympton Office SRA number 819160). The SRA’s Standards and Regulations can be viewed here. A list of the members of Wolferstans LLP, and of their professional qualifications, is available for inspection at our registered office: 60/66 North Hill Plymouth Devon PL4 8EP. We use the word `partner` to refer to a member of the LLP or an employee or consultant with equivalent standing and qualifications. Data Protection Register Entry Number ZB009475 with an expiry date of 14 March 2022.VAT Registration Number 144043893.