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We understand that making a compensation claim against the Ministry of Defence may seem like a daunting prospect. However, armed forces personnel have the same rights to claim compensation for injuries as civilians.
If you or a family member have been injured, or if you've lost a loved one, then our solicitors could help you make a claim, whether through the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS) or through a civil case.
We’ve helped hundreds of members of the armed forces to claim compensation, so we’ve learned about the kind of concerns that you may have. Using our years of experience, our solicitors have put together this guide to answer some of the common questions we hear.
If you can't find the answer to a specific question in our military compensation FAQs below, you can give us a call on 0800 022 3321 or contact us online for a free consultation with one of our lawyers, who will be able to offer their expert advice.
We've dealt with hundreds of claims for service personnel, but we've found that many people aren't even aware they can make a claim. Like all employers, the Ministry of Defence has a duty of care for your health and safety while at work – even if that work involves high-risk situations.
You have a right to expect that your employer – even if it is the MoD – will protect you from harm as much as possible, by providing you with the right equipment to do your job, and taking steps to ensure you're not put in any unnecessary harm.
So while military careers do come with a higher risk of injury than many others, this doesn't mean you're not entitled to claim compensation when accidents happen.
The main exception is when you've been injured in combat. Combat Immunity is a defence that protects the MoD from legal action in the event of an injury in the heat of battle. However, this is a complex area of the law, and there may be exceptions, so make sure you seek legal advice to find out for sure.
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The British Armed Forces is currently made up of more than 150,000 active personnel, and a significant number will find that they need to bring legal action for injuries suffered in service each year.
The MoD understands that they ask service personnel to do a difficult job in dangerous situations – and unfortunately accidents do happen. Because of this, they respect the individual's right to bring a legal claim for injuries.
We have acted for hundreds of members of the armed forces over the years, including regular and reserve claimants from the Army, RAF, and Royal Navy, including the Special Forces.
We've handled a range of different kinds of claim for armed forces personnel, including:
We understand the extent to which armed forces personnel will be relying on service benefits and earnings. We’ll make sure that your compensation takes into account the loss of the following types of income/benefit into account:
Every claim is different, and will be judged on its individual circumstances. For any claim to be successful, we need to establish three things:
If we can prove this, and your claim is made within the right time limits, the prospects of success are very good. We have a proven track record of helping armed forces personnel claim compensation from the Ministry of Defence, as well as other opponents.
If a commander or soldier makes a mistake, or if personnel are injured by an enemy combatant, either in the heat of battle or under threat of attack, then the MoD can't be held responsible through the courts. This defence is called Combat Immunity.
However, there are exceptions to the Combat Immunity defence. These situations can be complex, and we have a proven track record of representing armed forces service personnel from the Army, RAF and Royal Navy in civil claims, despite their accidents taking place in a combat zone. Find out more about Combat Immunity, and how it can affect your claim.
You may be able to make a civil claim in addition to claiming through the AFCS. However, if you have received compensation from the AFCS, this gets taken into account when calculating the amount of compensation you receive (due to there being a legal principle that compensation can’t be paid twice for the same injury). Find out more about AFCS claims.
To begin a claim, all you need to do is get in touch with us, whether by phone on 0800 022 3321, or by contacting us online.
You'll have a free initial consultation with one of our legal advisers, where we'll discuss your injury and tell you whether we think you'll be able to make a claim. We'll give our expert advice on your options – but you're under no obligation to continue with us.
If you decide to make a claim with us, you could fund your claim using a No Win No Fee* arrangement. This means you'll only have to pay anything if your claim is successful – your opponent will pay most of our fees, with the remaining costs coming out of your compensation settlement. Please visit our No Win No Fee page for more information on how it works.
The amount of time a claim takes to complete can vary a great deal from case to case. Generally speaking, claims for more serious injuries are more complex, and can take longer to pursue to completion. This is because with complex injuries it can take longer to understand their full extent, and the impact they will have on your life.
Cases involving an injury which results in a medical discharge will usually take 18 months to two years to conclude, but complex matters involving catastrophic injury or life-long disability can unfortunately take much longer.
However, in some cases we may be able to help you access early compensation payments to help you deal with the costs of medical treatment, retraining or even just the expense of leaving the armed forces and re-establishing yourself in civilian life.
The majority of military claims are made to the Ministry of Defence (MoD). These claims begin by sending a formal letter of claim to the MoD. After this, the claim will usually follow the same four stages:
If you have any questions about the claims process, please contact us today on 0800 022 3321 for your free initial consultation.
Your solicitor owes you a strict duty of confidentiality, and neither they nor anyone else from Irwin Mitchell will discuss your case with a third party without your express permission.
However, your opponent will need to investigate your claim, and this means that they'll contact your unit to confirm details and obtain any relevant paperwork. They may also speak to any colleagues who were there at the time of your accident, and can provide witness evidence.
If your claim goes to court, all court proceedings are a matter of public record. However, in cases where it's justified, for example in claims on behalf of those serving with the United Kingdom Special Forces, we can apply for anonymity, so your name will not appear on the court documents.
The party who pays your compensation can vary on a case-to-case basis, but in the majority of military claims, your compensation will be paid from a specially set aside budget by the MoD.
The budget the MoD pays compensation from is separate to that used for the purchase of equipment, so making a claim will not impact your unit’s budget.
You could also claim compensation from the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS), a government scheme that provides compensation for injury, illness and death caused by service on or after 6 April 2005. Find out more about claiming through the AFCS.
If you recover from your injuries and are able to return to work, there are very strict rules about discriminating against someone for bringing a legal claim. The MoD doesn't look unfavourably on personnel who bring compensation claims after an injury.
Regardless of whether you return to work or not, the settlement is paid by the Ministry of Defence, out of a specific budget set aside for these situations. It doesn't come out of your unit’s budget, and it certainly doesn’t come out of the same budget which dictates the amount and quality of kit, equipment and other resources for your friends who remain in service.
No, bringing a claim won't affect your entitlement to a pension under any of the various Armed Forces Pension Schemes.
We pride ourselves on being a full service law firm, and can continue to play a vital role after your claim has settled.
Our Court of Protection team can assist in setting up a special needs trust, ensuring that your payment does not affect your entitlement to valuable means-tested benefits. They can also help with managing your affairs in circumstances where your injury has affected your ability to do so for yourself.
IM Asset Management can provide financial advice and specialises in investing money awarded as a result of a legal claim for injury.
Our Family Law team can prepare pre-nuptial agreements to ensure that the settlement you received to meet your on-going physical and financial needs are protected in the event of a divorce.
Finally, our Public Law & Human Rights team can help ensure you have access to any local authority care or support reasonably required over and above any private care needs you have. We have a long history of campaigning, fundraising and working with leading armed forces welfare organisations and can assist veterans in accessing any help they need when they return to civilian life. Read more about veteran support here.
Please contact us on 0800 022 3321, or online, for a free initial consultation on your case. If you have any questions at all, we'll be happy to help.
All Scottish cases will be handled by the Scottish law firm with which we are associated, Irwin Mitchell Scotland LLP. The law relating to funding is different in Scotland and you will receive separate advice about what that means as well as a separate funding agreement.
* Subject to entering into a No Win No Fee agreement in conjunction with our Allianz Litigate insurance policy and complying with your responsibilities under its terms.
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