Military personnel are constantly exposed to situations and hazards that may cause them to suffer an injury or illness. The Armed Forces Compensation Scheme was established on 6th April 2005 to compensate all members of the military for any suffering caused or aggravated by their service. It is a no-fault alternative to obtain compensation, meaning you do not have to prove negligence like in a civil claim.
To find out if you can make an armed forces claim, please call 0800 678 1410 or enter your details into our online claim form to get a call back. An experienced solicitor will offer you a free consultation, with no obligation to proceed and will answer any questions you may have.
What is the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS)?
The AFCS is a government scheme designed to provide compensation and support to military personnel who have been injured or suffer from an illness due to their service. It is managed by Veterans UK and was established on 6th April 2005. It provides compensation for any injury, illness or death on or after this date.
It is a no-fault scheme available to all current and former military personnel serving in the British Army, Royal Navy, or Royal Air Force, reservists included. You can start an armed forces compensation claim while in the military, as well as after you leave service.
The AFCS provides a lump sum payment for pain and suffering, according to a tariff system with 15 levels that reflect the severity of the injury. It does not include compensation for financial losses and expenses related to the injury. However, a monthly Guaranteed Income Payment (GIP) is available for those who have suffered a significant loss of earning capacity due to their injuries.
Am I entitled to claim armed forces compensation?
The armed forces compensation scheme is available to all regular service personnel, the Royal Gibraltar Regiment and members of the reserves for the British Army, Royal Navy, or Royal Air Force. It is possible to start a claim whether you are still serving or have left the armed forces.
Your injury or illness must be related to your military service to be eligible for compensation. It should have occurred during your service or have been significantly worsened by it. Unlike a claim under civil law, it is a no-fault scheme, meaning you do not have to prove that your injury was due to someone else’s negligence.
There are just a few circumstances for which you may not be able to claim armed forces compensation, and they include injuries that have happened during:
- Social events
- Travel to and from work
- Sporting activity without prior approval
- The majority of slips, trips and falls
How to make an Armed Forces compensation claim
If you want to claim armed forces compensation, the first thing you should do is contact a personal injury lawyer by calling free on 0800 678 1410. While this is not a legal requirement, the AFCS eligibility rules are complex and may require a lot of paperwork. An experienced solicitor can help you prepare everything you need to achieve the best award under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme.
If you have a valid claim, your solicitor will help you collect evidence of the cause, type and severity of your injuries. You could assist them in this process by providing any of the following:
- Medical records that detail your diagnosis, treatments and any ongoing medical care related to your injury or illness;
- A copy of the accident report you filed with the responsible party to establish the circumstances of your injury;
- Photographs of the accident scene and any equipment or vehicles involved;
- Pictures of visible injuries and your recovery process;
- Contact details of witnesses to your accident who can support your account of the events;
- Assessments from medical specialists, psychologists, or other professionals;
- Records related to your military service, such as deployment records, service history, and any documents showing your duties and responsibilities;
- If you have appealed a previous decision, keep copies of your appeal letters and any responses from Veterans UK.
Once your military claim form has been submitted to Veterans UK, they will look at the evidence you provided and calculate your armed forces compensation based on their tariff bands. The application process is intended to take around six months but usually takes longer. In cases related to severe or complex injuries, it can take significantly longer to assess the full extent of the damage.
If your claim was rejected or you disagree with the compensation awarded, you have 12 months to request a reconsideration. If you are still unhappy after the reassessment, a solicitor could help you appeal to an independent tribunal.
What types of military accidents could lead to an AFCS claim?
Military personnel are constantly exposed to various risks related to their job, such as combat situations, noise and radiation exposure, intense training, and dangerous equipment and machinery. These and other hazards can cause various accidents that could lead to armed forces compensation, such as:
- Road traffic accidents. Military personnel may be involved in a road traffic accident while on deployment or commuting between military bases. These accidents can result in a range of injuries, from minor to severe.
- Other vehicle accidents. Other vehicles, such as aircraft, ships, or tanks, may also lead to accidents. These can cause injuries due to crashes, malfunctions, or equipment failures.
- Injuries during training. Military training is physically demanding and can involve various exercises, including live ammunition drills, parachute jumps, and obstacle courses. Accidents during training can lead to injuries that may be grounds for armed forces compensation.
- Injuries during combat. Military personnel deployed in combat zones are exposed to various dangers, including gunfire and explosions. Injuries sustained during combat operations can be severe and may result in an armed forces claim.
- Exposure to unsafe noise levels. Military tasks are often carried out in noisy environments, which can lead to military hearing loss or other auditory injuries. Prolonged exposure to dangerous noise levels can result in compensation claims.
- Medical negligence. Military medical facilities may sometimes be responsible for negligent treatment, misdiagnosis, or surgical errors. These may lead to an avoidable injury or the worsening of a condition.
- Fatal accidents. Tragically, fatal accidents do occur in the military due to various circumstances, including combat, accidents, or illnesses. In such cases, compensation may be available to surviving family members.
These and many other circumstances we have not listed here may entitle you to start an AFCS claim. Armed forces compensation also covers accidents suffered during operations, while participating in approved sports or exercising on your own to maintain military fitness. However, there are several situations in which you cannot claim, detailed in the section below.
Types of injuries that could lead to an armed forces claim
The Armed Forces Compensation Scheme allows you to claim compensation for any illness or injury caused by service in the armed forces, including:
- Physical injuries. These encompass a wide range of injuries, from minor to severe, such as fractures, burns and amputations;
- Head injuries, including concussions and more severe brain trauma resulting from blasts, falls, or accidents;
- Hearing loss, whether due to combat noise, explosions, or other service-related activities;
- Respiratory and lung injuries resulting from exposure to hazardous substances, chemicals, or environmental factors;
- Back and spinal cord injuries caused by vehicle accidents, slips and falls or heavy lifting;
- Musculoskeletal injuries, such as strains, sprains, tendonitis or arthritis;
- Injuries resulting from combat, such as gunshot wounds, shrapnel injuries, or wounds from explosive devices;
- Psychological injuries. These include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders caused by traumatic experiences during service.
These are just some examples of injuries for which you could claim armed forces compensation. However, your eligibility will depend on the circumstances of your injury. Some activities are generally excluded from the scheme, but all have exceptions. Typically, you cannot make an AFCS claim if you were injured:
- While travelling to and from work (exceptions include being called out to an emergency or changing the workplace from the UK to another country)
- In a slip, trip and fall, with a few exceptions
- During sporting activities in your free time (you may still receive compensation if you were injured while practising a sport that helps you maintain your overall fitness, such as running, cycling or circuit training)
- During a social event that you were not ordered to attend unless you were the victim of a terrorist attack
Furthermore, the scheme does not cover injuries and illnesses caused by your lifestyle choices, such as smoking, alcohol use or drug abuse.
Could I also claim under civil law?
If you suffered an injury while serving in the military, an AFCS claim is not the only way to get compensation. If you can prove that the Ministry of Defence (MOD) has breached its legal duty of care towards you, you could also make a negligence claim under civil law.
As MOD employees, members of the UK armed forces are entitled to reasonable measures to be safe from risks at work. The MOD must follow workplace legislation such as the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, like any other employer. As a result, they should:
- Conduct risk assessments to identify threats to your health and safety
- Provide adequate training and personal protective equipment
- Ensure that all vehicles, machinery and equipment you use are adequately maintained
- Keep a safe working environment that is free of slip and trip hazards
These are just some of the responsibilities the Ministry of Defence has towards employees. Any breach of duty that leads to injuries or illnesses can lead to a military injury claim.
While claiming armed forces compensation does not prevent a claim through the civil court, you cannot receive two awards for the same injury. If both your claims are successful, only the higher of the two gets paid. The main differences between an AFCS claim and a civil claim are:
- AFCS is a no-fault process, while civil claims need to establish negligence or wrongdoing;
- You have three years to claim under civil law and seven years through the AFCS;
- An armed forces compensation scheme claim only covers the actual injury, while a civil personal injury claim will also cover past and future financial losses and expenses.
A personal injury solicitor can let you know which claim you should pursue based on your circumstances. You can arrange a free case assessment by calling free on 0800 678 1410 or using our online claim form.
Time limits to make an Armed Forces compensation claim
The typical three-year time limit for making a personal injury claim under civil law does not apply when claiming armed forces compensation. Instead, the AFCS imposes a seven-year claim limitation date, starting from the earliest of these dates:
- The date of the incident that led to your injury or sickness
- The date when a pre-existing condition was exacerbated due to your military service
- In case of an illness or mental health condition, the date when you first sought medical advice
- The date of your discharge from military service
Sometimes, a claim may still be accepted after seven years, such as if your injury or illness prevented you from claiming sooner. Examples include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or a brain injury that has caused you to lose mental capacity.
While seven years is a long time, you should always start your AFCS claim as soon as possible. This way, it will be easier to document your injuries and the cause of your injury or illness to ensure you do not miss any deadlines. Furthermore, the more promptly you start legal proceedings, the sooner you will receive the financial support you may need.
If your injuries are severe, your solicitor may be able to help you claim an AFCS fast payment of £61,800 without needing to go through the entire claims process. You have six months to apply for this payment, starting from the date of injury.
How much compensation could I receive?
A claim under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme offers two types of payments for military personnel injured during service on or after 6 April 2005. These are:
A lump-sum payment
The lump-sum payment is based on The Armed Forces and Reserve Forces (Compensation Scheme) Order 2011. The compensation awarded is tariff-based, with 15 levels that reflect the severity of the injury or illness. The available awards range from £1,236 for level 15 (minor) injuries to £650,000 for type one (the most severe) injuries. Some examples of injuries and payment for each category include:
- Level 1: £650,000 for loss of both arms above or below the elbow and one leg
- Level 2: £484,100 for a thoracic spinal cord injury with complete paraparesis
- Level 3: £391,400 for loss of both arms below the elbow
- Level 4: £298,700 for uncontrolled epilepsy following a head injury
- Level 5: £180,250 for loss of both kidneys or chronic renal failure
- Level 6: £144,200 for a permanent mental disorder with severe functional limitations
- Level 7: £92,700 for a physical disorder that causes reduced life expectancy
- Level 8: £61,800 for the loss of one foot at the ankle
- Level 9: £41,200 for permanent and severely impaired grip in both hands
- Level 10: £27,810 for a complete ligament rupture in the knees, ankles, wrists, elbows, or shoulders, with significant permanent functional limitation
- Level 11: £15,965 for acute physical trauma causing loss of hearing in one ear
- Level 12: £10,300 for a detached retina in one eye
- Level 13: £6,180 for traumatic back injury causing significant mobility restrictions for more than 13 weeks
- Level 14: £3,090 for a displaced fracture of nasal bones
- Level 15: £1,236 for the fracture of three or more ribs
Some types of injuries also entitle you to a supplementary award. For example, you may receive an extra:
- £60,000 if your injury is accompanied by infertility, impotence, or loss of bowel and bladder control
- £40,000 if the injury resulted in the loss or removal of one kidney
Guaranteed Income Payments (GIP)
If you have suffered serious injuries that will affect your future earning capacity, you may also receive a monthly guaranteed income payment. This is a tax-free, index-linked payment based on your age and basic salary at the time of injury. The GIP is paid for life, starting from the date you leave service, and is adjusted annually for inflation and rising prices. The future loss of earnings paid depends on the level of injury, such as:
- 100% of your lost income for level 1, 2, 3, and 4 injuries
- 75% of the future loss of wages for a level 5 or 6 injury
- 50% of your lost earnings if you have suffered a level 7 or 8 injury
- 25% of lost wages for level 9, 10 or 11 injuries
Can I make an AFCS claim if I lost a loved one due to a military accident?
The Armed Forces Compensation Scheme also offers support to individuals who have lost a loved one during military service. Those eligible are children, spouses, and partners with whom the deceased cohabited in an exclusive and substantial relationship for at least six months. For benefits to be payable, the death must have occurred:
- During military service
- Within seven years of discharge due to an injury or illness caused or worsened by service
- After seven years of service ending, if it was due to a late onset illness or a level 1 to 9 tariff injury for which they received armed forces compensation
Three types of benefits are payable in an armed forces claim for the death of a loved one:
- The Survivors Guaranteed Income Payment (SGIP) is a regular income paid for life to an eligible partner. It is calculated based on the deceased’s salary and is not affected by any pension benefits.
- A Child’s Payment is available to children under 18 (or 23 if they are in full-time education or vocational training). The payment is available for a child of any age if they are not able to support themselves due to a physical or mental disability. These payments are taxable and rise in line with inflation.
- A Bereavement Grant (BG) is a fixed payment of £37,000 accessible if the death occurs after service. If your loved one died on duty, it is only payable if their salary was less than £25,000. The bereavement grant is available to an eligible partner. In their absence, it must be equally divided between eligible children.
Do I need a solicitor to make an armed forces claim?
You do not necessarily need a solicitor to make an AFCS claim. However, there are many advantages to having a personal injury lawyer representing you. Some reasons to consider using a solicitor to make a claim under the AFCS include:
- They have a deep understanding of the armed forces compensation scheme and related laws;
- They can assess the strength of your case and provide expert guidance;
- The eligibility rules are complex, but your solicitor can help you gather the necessary evidence to secure a successful outcome;
- A solicitor can handle the documents, negotiations, and legal aspects of the claim, allowing you to focus on recovery and reducing your stress;
- If your claim is initially denied or you receive an unsatisfactory offer, your solicitor can help you appeal the decision and fight for a fair outcome;
- Having legal representation will guarantee that your rights are protected throughout the claims process;
- They will ensure you receive the correct compensation and guaranteed income payment award.
The solicitors we work with will offer you a no win no fee agreement to help you claim armed forces compensation. That means you don’t have to pay them anything upfront, and their fees depend on the outcome of your claim. If you do not receive compensation, you will not be left out of pocket.
If you would like to find out more about making an armed forces compensation scheme claim, you can contact us on 0800 678 1410 or request a call back. A friendly solicitor will answer any questions you may have and help you secure the compensation you deserve.