As Ministry of Defence (MoD) employees, military personnel have the right to a safe working environment and reasonable precautions to be safe from harm. While injuries in direct combat are sometimes unavoidable, you must receive the proper training and equipment for the job.
Like any other employer, the MoD must follow the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 legislation to protect the health and safety of military personnel. Members of the British Army, Navy and Air Force have the right to be safe and protected when not in direct combat.
If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a military accident due to a breach of health and safety measures, you might be entitled to military injury compensation.
Some of the military injuries you could claim compensation for include PTSD, training accidents, hearing loss, clinical negligence and fatal accidents involving a loved one. An experienced solicitor could help you make a military accident claim through the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme or under civil law.
Who can make a claim for military injury compensation?
If their accident was due to negligence, military personnel have just as much right to claim compensation as any other employee. The Ministry of Defence owes a duty of care to all service personnel to ensure that their working environment is as free from risk as possible.
If you were injured while serving in the Royal Air Force, Army, Navy, or Reserve Forces in an accident that could have been prevented by following the safety procedures, you might be entitled to make a military injury claim. This does not depend on whether you are still a member of the military or you are no longer serving.
You could also claim compensation on behalf of a loved one who lost their life while serving. Some examples of military negligence that may lead to a successful army injury claim include:
- Failure to provide proper and sufficient training
- Failure to provide adequate clothing and equipment
- Exposing military personnel to unnecessary risks during training
- Providing substandard medical care and treatment, also known as military medical negligence
- Providing unsafe or defective military accommodation
The most straightforward way to find out if you have a valid military injury claim is by contacting an experienced personal injury solicitor. After discussing the details of your case, they can let you know how you should proceed with the claim.
Furthermore, if you have a fair chance of success, they will offer you a no win no fee agreement. This way, you do not have to worry about any upfront solicitor fees or legal charges, as you only pay your solicitor if your claim is successful. To find out if you could claim military injury compensation, call 0800 678 1410 to speak to a legal adviser or request a call back using our online claim form.
What type of military accidents can I claim compensation for?
You might be eligible for army injury compensation if you had an accident while serving in the armed forces without being at fault. Types of military accidents that may lead to a claim include:
Road traffic accidents
Whether you were involved in a road traffic accident on or off duty, this can be a traumatic event that might affect your future military career. If another individual caused your injury by acting negligently, you might be able to claim compensation for your losses.
Other vehicular accidents
Some military personnel need to operate tactical vehicles such as tanks, trucks or helicopters. Lack of proper training, supervision and risk assessments or vehicle defects can lead to severe or even fatal accidents. If you suffered an injury due to negligence, you could make a military injury claim.
Off duty accidents
You might be entitled to military injury compensation if you suffered an injury while off duty. Common accidents for which you could claim include slips, trips and falls, sporting or gym accidents and criminal assaults. Depending on the circumstances of your accident, the Ministry of Defence may be liable to pay you compensation, or you could make a civil claim against the party at fault.
Accidents during training
Training exercises in the military aim to prepare you for real combat situations, so they are harsh and dangerous by nature. However, the MoD should take all necessary precautions to keep you safe from unnecessary injury during training. If your employers breached their duty of care towards you, you might be entitled to army injury compensation.
Exposure to unsafe noise levels
Serving in the military often involves working in a noisy environment. Prolonged exposure to loud noise caused by gun and artillery fire, explosions, aircraft and even vehicle engines can have severe consequences and might even cause hearing loss and deafness. You might have a valid military accident claim if you were exposed to loud noises without adequate hearing protection.
Cold or heat injuries
The Joint Service Publication (JSP) 539 policy for the prevention of heat illnesses and cold injuries sets out the guidelines to keep serving personnel safe from harm. Climatic injuries could have severe and career-threatening consequences but are highly preventable. If you suffered an injury while operating in a cold or hot environment, you might be entitled to receive compensation.
If you suffered an injury due to substandard military medical care, you might be able to claim compensation. Common medical mistakes include medication errors, surgery mistakes, misdiagnosis and misprescription of Lariam (medication used to prevent or treat malaria). Medical negligence can lead to severe physical and psychological injuries or may cause your condition to worsen.
Bullying, harassment and abuse
According to the MoD policy, all military personnel have the right to be treated with respect and dignity. Under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, you could claim if you were abused during an initiation ritual or you were in any other way bullied or exposed to degrading treatment which caused you physical or emotional harm. Nobody should have to suffer from workplace bullying, regardless of the industry or environment you work in.
Unsafe or defective military equipment
Defective equipment used during training or combat can have devastating consequences. Faulty weapons and ammunition, vehicles, body armour, diving equipment, heavy machinery or personal protective equipment could make the MoD liable for your injuries. Defective equipment is often a valid reason to overturn the defence of combat immunity and receive compensation for your injuries.
Many accidents could cause a fatality in the military, including assaults, friendly fire, defective equipment, unsafe working practices and lack of proper training. If you lost a loved one during their time in service, this can naturally have a huge impact on your life and family. If another party was responsible for their death, you could be entitled to receive military injury compensation.
While serving in the military, you have the right to train and work in a safe and healthy environment. If the Ministry of Defence breaches their duty of care towards you, causing you an injury, you might be entitled to compensation, regardless of the circumstances of your accident.
If you feel you may have a valid claim, call 0800 678 1410 or request a call back to receive a free consultation with a trained legal adviser. This service is provided free of charge and without any obligation to proceed.
What are the most common types of military injuries?
Serving in the military can obviously be a dangerous job. Accidents during training or combat operations can have severe and even fatal consequences. According to the Ministry of Defence, between January 2020 and February 2022, 152 UK armed forces personnel died whilst on training or exercises.
The most common types of military injuries for which you could claim compensation include:
Military burns can result either from non-combat or combat causes such as open flames, explosives, contact with hot objects, steam or hot fluids, radiation, chemicals and electricity. There are four main types of burns, namely thermal, chemical, electrical, and laser burns.
A burn injury can cause extreme pain, scarring, disfigurement and even death. Proper first aid treatment is essential to minimise further damage to the burned area. If your injury was due to the negligence of another party, you could make a military accident claim.
Musculoskeletal injuries are a significant medical problem in the military, with an overall incidence of 48.6%. The most common injury is iliotibial band tendonitis, which causes pain up and down the leg, aching, burning or tenderness and a popping sensation outside the knee. Other conditions requiring significant rehabilitation times are stress fractures of the femur, tibia and calcaneus.
Bone fractures are also common during combat operations. Between 2003 and 2014, of 2,348 UK military personnel who survived injury in Iraq and Afghanistan, 1,530 suffered a fracture. Most fractures (67%) involved the legs and pelvis, while 33% affected the upper limbs (view source).
Heat illness and cold injuries
Commanders must understand that both cold and heat injuries could be life-threatening. They have the duty to assess the risk of injury arising from training or military operations and minimise the risks according to the JSP 539 policy. As a minimum, an appropriate risk assessment must include:
- The rate, duration and type of activity
- Environmental conditions
- Individual risk factors such as race, gender, physical fitness and smoking
- Clothing, equipment and load during the outside activity
- Food and water intake during the activity
Failure to plan and implement appropriate measures to reduce the risk of injury may lead to hypothermia and frostbite or heat exhaustion and stroke, which could be lethal.
An amputation is a severe and traumatic injury that can change your life forever. In the military, amputations are primarily due to explosions and other blast injuries, but may also be due to frostbite, crush injuries, electrocution or infections.
Between October 2001 and March 2020, 302 UK military personnel suffered a traumatic or surgical amputation while serving in Afghanistan. For most victims, losing a limb will result in a medical discharge and the end of their career. If another party was negligent and responsible for your accident, you could claim army injury compensation.
Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
Blast explosions and head trauma during training and combat can cause mild to severe brain injuries. A brain injury can have significant cognitive, behavioural, physical and psychological long-term consequences.
Some of the possible effects of TBI include stress and anxiety, mental illness, impaired concentration, personality changes, memory problems and epilepsy. Following the proper safety procedures and using the correct equipment can reduce the risks of brain injury.
Spinal cord injuries (SCI)
Sustaining a spinal cord injury is often a life-changing event for the victim and their family. Explosive blasts, falls from a height, blunt trauma, gunshots, motor vehicle accidents and other circumstances can cause mild to severe spinal cord injuries.
The long-term effects of a spinal injury may range from osteoporosis and chronic pain to paraplegia and quadriplegia. Not all injuries can be avoided, but proper training and equipment such as body armour can significantly reduce the risk of an SCI. If your commander failed to take all necessary measures to prevent your accident, you could qualify for military injury compensation.
Hearing loss and tinnitus
Military personnel are often exposed to loud working conditions. Whether serving on land, in the air or at sea, hazards such as aircraft noise, explosions, mortars and vehicle engines can severely damage your hearing.
According to the Ministry of Defence, of the 137,280 individuals serving in the UK Armed Forces on 1st October 2017, 2,450 suffered from impaired hearing, and 337 had poor hearing. Like any other employer, the MoD has a legal duty to provide adequate training and hearing protection to keep you safe from hearing damage. If you have suffered tinnitus or hearing loss due to negligence, you could make an armed forces injury claim.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
You may develop post-traumatic stress disorder after exposure to frightening, distressing or alarming events, particularly during combat. In 2019/20, 1 in 8 UK Armed Forces personnel required military healthcare for a mental health related reason, and 1 in 37 needed a specialist mental health clinician.
However, the rate of PTSD remains low, with 2 in 1,000 personnel assessed with the disorder in 2019/20. The risk of developing PTSD increases by 90% for individuals previously deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan.
The disorder can have physical and mental debilitating symptoms that may take many years to manifest. These include suicidal thoughts, trouble sleeping and concentrating, irritability and self-destructive behaviour.
Nothing is more devastating than losing a loved one in an accident. A fatal incident in the military could be due to malfunctioning equipment, injuries during operations, heat or cold injuries, assault or unsafe working practices.
While no amount of compensation can make up for the loss of a family member, it can provide the financial support you need to get through such a difficult time. Your solicitor will handle all the aspects of your military accident claim, putting your needs first at every step along the way.
If you or a loved one suffered an injury during military service, you might be eligible for military injury compensation. To find out if you have a valid claim, enter your details into our online claim form or call 0800 678 1410 to speak to a trained legal adviser.
What is the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS)?
The Armed Forces Compensation Scheme is a government scheme managed by Veterans UK. It was established on 6th April 2005 to pay compensation to military personnel injured while serving or their families in case of a fatal accident.
The AFCS is a no-fault scheme that compensates for any injury, illness or death caused by service on or after 6th April 2005. This means you do not have to prove that the accident or illness happened because of someone else’s fault. All current or former UK military personnel, including reservists, can claim army injury compensation through the AFCS.
There are a limited number of circumstances in which you could suffer an injury that would exclude you from the AFCS scheme, including:
- During social events
- While practising a sport without prior approval
- An accident while getting to or returning from work
- Most slip, trip and fall injuries
Making an AFCS claim does not affect your right to pursue compensation from the Ministry of Defence under civil law. Usually, you have three years to bring a civil claim and seven years from the date of injury to file an army injury claim through the AFCS.
You could receive two main types of compensation from the AFCS:
- A lump sum payment for pain and suffering
- A tax-free, monthly guaranteed income payment (GIP)
Lump-sum payments are awarded according to the AFCS Tariff of Injuries, which rates an injury from level 1 (most severe) to level 15 (least severe). There is a fixed compensation award for each level of injury, with a maximum lump sum payment of £650,000 for level 1 injuries.
If your injuries will likely affect your future income, the AFCS may also award a monthly payment to supplement your salary and pension. The AFCS compensation award may be reduced if you make a successful military injury claim against your employer under civil law.
Although you could make a compensation claim under AFCS without the help of a solicitor, a professional could assist you with gathering medical and other evidence you need to support your case.
For more information about the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS), you can call 0800 678 1410 to speak to a legal adviser.
How do I make a claim for military injury compensation?
If you suffered an injury while serving in the UK military, you might be eligible for compensation. The Crown Proceedings (Armed Forces) Act 1987 has allowed military personnel to claim for an injury sustained during service, provided the MoD failed in their health and safety duties towards you. If your injury happened before May 1987, you are not entitled to claim military injury compensation.
A military injury claim made under civil law could result in a higher compensation award. If you believe your accident was due to your employer’s negligence, you should seek legal advice. Based on the circumstances of your injury, your solicitor will determine whether the MoD breached the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 legislation, causing your accident.
If your army injury claim is valid, you will likely receive a no win no fee service. This means you can pursue the compensation you deserve without worrying about any upfront fees or hidden charges. Your solicitor will offer their support and advice throughout the claim, and you only have to pay them if you receive compensation.
Furthermore, the After the Event (ATE) insurance policy involved in a no win no fee claim provides full financial coverage if your army injury claim is ultimately unsuccessful. The insurance will cover all the legal costs for you and the defendant, so you will not incur any out of pocket expenses.
To make a successful claim under civil law, you need relevant evidence, such as:
- Medical records to help prove what injuries you sustained and their long-term or permanent effects.
- Photographic evidence of what caused your accident before anything, such as defective equipment, is removed or repaired.
- Photographs of your injuries and taken during the recovery process.
- Contact details of any witnesses who could provide a statement of what they saw.
- Investigation reports regarding your accident in the military.
- A copy of the accident report you should have filed with the responsible party after the accident.
- A video recording of the accident if it was captured by a security camera or recorded for training or other purposes.
- Evidence of any financial losses you incurred because of your injuries.
If you decide to make a military accident claim, your solicitor will deal with everything so you can focus on your recovery. They will handle any queries, objections or arguments regarding your claim and keep you updated on the proceedings. Your solicitor will also take care of negotiating a settlement on your behalf.
As mentioned above, the Ministry of Defence operates its own compensation scheme for victims of military accidents. If your accident happened after 6th April 2005, you could also claim through the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme.
Unlike a personal injury claim under civil law, you do not have to prove blame or negligence to qualify for AFCS compensation. This applies to regular forces, reservists, and members of the Special Forces, regardless of whether you are a veteran or still serving.
If you suffered an injury during military service before 6th April 2005 and are no longer serving, you could claim under the War Pension Scheme (WPS). Like the AFCS, the WPS awards a lump sum payment and a pension paid weekly or monthly.
Besides, if you have Personal Accident (PAX) or Life Insurance (LI), you may be able to also claim through that. This should not prevent you from making a civil compensation claim or an AFCS claim.
To find out more about your military injury compensation prospects, call 0800 678 1410 for a free consultation with a legal adviser. Or, if you prefer, you can enter your details into our online claim form to receive a call back.
Is there a time limit to make a military accident claim?
If you want to make a civil military accident claim, the time limit to start legal proceedings is usually three years. Afterwards, your case becomes statute-barred, and it will no longer be possible to claim compensation. The three-year countdown will either begin from:
- The date of your accident, if your injuries became immediately clear
- The date you received a diagnosis or became aware of your injuries
Under the Mental Capacity Act 2005, if a military injury caused the victim to become incapacitated due to being in a coma or having suffered a traumatic brain injury, the three-year countdown is suspended until they regain mental capacity. A litigation friend could claim compensation on their behalf at any point while they are mentally unable to conduct legal proceedings by themselves.
If you lost a loved one in a military accident, a close family member could make an army injury claim within three years after the date of their death.
According to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Overseas Scheme, if you are a serving member of the Armed Forces (Army, Navy, RAF, Special Forces and Reservists) or Ex-Service Personnel and have been the victim of a violent crime while serving abroad, you might be entitled to compensation. The time limit to make a claim is two years after the date of the assault.
If you want to pursue compensation through the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme, you can do so within seven years of the earliest of these dates:
- The date of the accident causing your injury or illness
- The date on which a pre-existing condition was made worse by service
- In case of an illness or a mental health condition, the date of first seeking medical advice
- The date of discharge
Regardless of the time limit that might apply to your claim, it is better to take legal action as soon as possible. This way, it will be easier to recall what happened, talk to witnesses and gather evidence to secure military injury compensation.
The time it might take for your claim to settle will depend on the extent of your injuries and whether they are fully healed. The value of the claim and whether the defendant admits liability will also affect how long it might take to receive compensation. A straightforward case might settle in a matter of months, while more complex claims could take years to conclude.
To start your claim, speak to a trained legal adviser by calling 0800 678 1410 for a free consultation.
Can I make a military injury claim if I am still serving?
If you were injured or got an illness while serving in the UK military, you might be entitled to make a military injury claim. This applies to any military personnel serving in the Army, RAF or Special forces, including the Army, Navy or RAF Reserves.
Claiming against the MoD can be a daunting prospect, so having an experienced solicitor on your side can make a huge difference. They will provide all the help, support and advice you need to build a strong claim and secure the compensation you deserve.
Your right to make an AFCS or civil claim for military injury compensation is not affected by whether you are still serving or not. However, you can only claim under the War Pension Scheme if you are no longer serving in the Armed Forces.
If you worry that your claim will affect your current position, know that there are strict rules to prevent discrimination against military personnel who make a compensation claim. Also, any settlement you might receive will be paid from a separate budget, so it will not affect your unit. Furthermore, claiming against the MoD should not affect your pension or promotion prospects.
If you are still serving and want to pursue compensation, you can claim both under the AFCS and civil law. The advantage of bringing a civil claim is that the value of the claim is calculated by considering any lost wages, allowances, pension reductions, and other lost benefits.
This usually results in more compensation being awarded in a civil claim. An AFCS claim only covers compensation for the actual injury, so it is limited. However, any amounts paid by the AFCS will be taken into account when calculating the compensation award.
If you have any concerns about making a military injury claim while still serving, call 0800 678 1410 for a free consultation with a legal adviser. They will be able to offer free advice and answer any questions you may have.
How much compensation can I claim for a military injury?
The compensation awarded in a military injury claim varies from case to case and depends on the severity of the injury and the related financial expenses. Your solicitor will consider how the accident affected your life and calculate a suitable compensation award taking into account:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Psychological and emotional trauma
- Your age, rank and specialism
- Present and future care and support needs
- Medical expenses such as medication, surgery, hearing and mobility aids, prostheses
- Travel expenses to medical appointments
- Adaptations to your home or vehicle to fit your disability
- Any other related out of pocket expenses you incurred
- Loss of amenity, such as the inability to pursue a hobby
- Loss of consortium or companionship
- Reduced quality of life or shortened life expectancy
- Loss of a unique career
The list is not exhaustive, and you can consult with your solicitor to determine how your life was affected by your injury. When calculating your military injury compensation award, they will also take into account:
- Loss of pay and service benefits
- Pension contributions
- Resettlement grants
- Any commitment bonuses
- Specialist pay and allowances
You are entitled to claim military injury compensation both from the AFCS and under civil law. In a civil claim, the amount of compensation you could receive is calculated by taking into account:
- General damages awarded for pain, suffering and loss of amenity
- Special damages covering your out of pocket expenses and any lost wages, pensions and other benefits
The Judicial College publishes guidelines that solicitors use when calculating a suitable compensation award for general damages. According to them, you could receive:
- £16,860 – £45,440 for a burn injury causing severe facial scarring and disfigurement
- £6,680 – £19,390 for a burn injury that causes severe non-facial scarring
- £19,200 – £39,170 for an arm fracture, depending on the severity
- £61,910 – £78,400 for complex hip and pelvis fractures causing disability and issues such as sexual dysfunction
- Up to £27,760 for simple leg fractures
- £13,740 – £21,070 for partial or complete amputation of one or several toes
- £96,160 – £300,000 for arm amputations, with the upper bracket for complete amputation of both arms
- £97,980 – £282,010 for amputation of one or both legs
- £282,010 – £403,990 for a very severe brain injury leaving the victim in a vegetative state
- £27,890 – £42,730 for total hearing loss in one ear
- £85,170 – £102,890 for complete loss of hearing in both ears
- £19,070 – £54,830 for severe psychiatric damage that interferes significantly with daily activities
- £59,860 – £100,670 for severe PTSD with permanent effects preventing the victim from functioning normally
The advantage of making an AFCS claim is that it is a no-fault process, and you only have to establish that you suffered an injury during employment and not that it was due to negligence. Unlike a civil claim, it only offers compensation for the injury itself, according to 15 levels reflecting the severity of injury or illness.
A level 1 injury is the most severe, with a maximum payable compensation of £650,000, while level 15 injuries are the mildest. According to the AFCS Tariff of Injuries, you could receive:
- £650,000 for loss of both legs (above or below the knee) and both arms (level 1 injury)
- £470,000 for loss of one arm above the elbow (level 2 injury)
- £391,400 for a thoracic spinal cord injury with partial paraparesis (level 3 injury)
- £298,700 for a second degree, third degree, or full thickness burn affecting 70% or more of the body (level 4 injury)
- £180,250 for a leg injury causing permanent significant functional limitation or restriction (level 5 injury)
- £144,200 for a permanent mental disorder causing severe functional limitation or restriction (level 6 injury)
- £92,700 for loss of both thumbs (level 7 injury)
- £61,800 for loss of one eye or total blindness in one eye (level 8 injury)
- £41,200 for a leg or arm fracture causing permanent disability and loss of function (level 9 injury)
- £27,810 for multiple face fractures causing permanent scarring and disfigurement (level 10 injury)
- £15,965 for permanent severely impaired grip in one hand (level 11 injury)
- £10,300 for fractured or dislocated patella on both knees causing significant functional limitation or restriction beyond 26 weeks (level 12 injury)
- £6,180 for an overuse injury of the leg requiring surgery (level 13 injury)
- £3,090 for a back sprain or strain with expected recovery beyond 13 weeks (level 14 injury)
- £1,236 for a direct hernia which has required surgery (level 15 injury)
To start your claim or learn more about your military injury compensation prospects, call 0800 678 1410 to speak to a legal adviser. Alternatively, you can fill out our online claim form to receive a call back.