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Focus on Military

Armed Forces Compensation Scheme: Q&A

In May Amanda Marsh joined the Military Injury Claims team as a Specialist in Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS) cases. Here, Amanda explains how she can help service personnel bringing claims under the Scheme.

The AFCS Scheme is a very specialised area-how did you first get involved?

My background is in more complex personal injury cases but I have for many years had a special interest in high value Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme cases. The CICA Scheme is very similar to the AFCS and as such it was a natural progression to deal with claims under both schemes.

Why is a solicitor sometimes needed in these claims?

The AFCS is supposed to be a fair and easily accessible process by which injured military personnel are awarded the correct award for the injury suffered. However, in some cases where an injured person acts alone, the outcome is very different. This is because the scheme is in fact a complex document which does not provide for independent medical evidence to be obtained. It is not always clear what information has been obtained by Veterans UK in support of a claim or whether it is accurate and complete. In such cases a solicitor has an understanding of the evidence gathering process, can obtain that evidence and often turn the case around.

How long have you been working in this area and how many service personnel have you helped?

I have been representing clients under the CICA scheme for over 16 years and under the AFCS for the last 3 years and have helped over 250 service personnel, either by taking the case on or, on occasion, by giving advice where it is clear that legal representation will add no value to the claim.

What are the greatest challenges you have faced when dealing with claims under the scheme?

The biggest single challenge is in obtaining the correct medical evidence to establish the nature and severity of the injury. The scheme does not allow for independent evidence and without it, it can sometimes be difficult to gather all the information together, as it can be held in a number of different places.

When is a lawyer not likely to be needed?

There are some injuries where there is a single tariff under the scheme such as, for example, compartment syndrome. All that is required is a diagnosis and then the standard tariff is paid so there are rarely complications. Another example would be a torn cartilage and in such cases an injured person can successfully achieve the right outcome without legal help.

What’s been a highlight for you in terms of result?

Every case where we succeed in getting the right award is a highlight but one that stands out is a young Fusilier who had PTSD and had been awarded just £10,000 for symptoms lasting 5 years. After instructing an independent psychiatrist he was awarded £140,000 plus GIP amounting to 75% of his final salary which he will receive for life. It was a life changing result.

If you were in government what would you change about the scheme?

I would make it a requirement under the scheme that independent medical evidence be obtained and that it is paid for by Veterans UK, just like the CICA scheme pays for independent reports to be obtained. This is essential in order to be able to accurately assess an injury, give a fair prognosis and so ensure that it attracts the right award.

Autumn 2016 (PDF)

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