Accident at work claims for the Armed Forces
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Nobody thinks for one minute that serving in the armed forces isn’t without its own dangers, with potentially destructive and physically damaging situations liable to unfold at any time; as by its very nature being on active duty brings with it the very real possibility of combat scenarios which can put military personnel at serious risk.
With this in mind it’s almost inevitable that service personnel will be injured at some point. But that said, the Ministry of Defence bears an overriding responsibility to minimise a range of risks as and where necessary. As after all, employees carrying out their duties, whatever and wherever they are, have a right to have their safety protected, especially when not in what might be described as a ‘direct combat’ environment.
What’s more, they’d also bejustifiably expectant of having been afforded suitable training prior to commencing their job, whilst also receiving instruction on equipment use and best practices when in certain difficult and challenging situations.
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Can I make a claim if I was injured while on active duty with the Armed Forces?
Essentially, yes. Should you suffer what’s later proven to be an avoidable injury during your military service, you may well find yourself in a favourable position from which to make a claim for personal injury against your employer; which of course in this case would be the MoD.
Just like in any other civilian job, your employer has to legally comply with a duty of care towards all members of staff, and if it’s discovered that they’ve failed to protect you properly then it’s only right that they are brought to task about it. Although certain military-based cases can differ significantly from those triggered by events on civvy street, specialist personal injury claims solicitors can and will fight what could turn out to be one of your most important battles yet.
What sort of military injuries am I entitled to pursue personal injury compensation for?
As it happens there are a diverse number of scenarios and sets of circumstances which could lead to an individual/serving/former member of the armed forces decided to seek the advice of professional legal teams with a view to lodging a personal injury claim. As a broad example of the predominant reasons why service personnel (still active and ex) would consider making a claim, please note the following;
- An injury that occurs in the workplace (whether that be in regard to accidents which occur while on armed forces manoeuvres, or whilst in a military installation of some sort)
- Road traffic accidents on a military base (or civilian property)
- Injuries caused by faulty kit or faulty weapons (or any other injury caused by unsafe or defective military equipment)
- Illnesses (or disease) contracted by military personnel at work
- PT (physical training) injuries
- Accidents caused by (stem from) a lack of necessary training
- Training accidents and unsafe working practices
- Injury from unsafe or defective military accommodation
- Medical/clinical negligence
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Claiming for loss of hearing or deafness
I didn’t even know that military personnel had the rights to make personal injury claims…
It wasn’t always as straightforward and as accessible a route to go down as it has become in recent times, but thankfully the laws have been revised dramatically over latter years, which has made things more streamlined when it comes to today’s service men and women being able to claim compensation with direct regards to a personal injury they’ve suffered during their forces career; and moreover injuries which happened in the first place due to the negligence of their employers, namely the Ministry of Defence.
What obligations does the MoD have to provide a safe environment?
The Ministry of Defence has historically abided by such compliances to ensure that it provides a safe working environment for service personnel, comprising of the following protocols and practices;
- Provide any necessary health and safety training
- Provide personal protective clothing and equipment and ensure all safety equipment is fully maintained and in working order
- All working environments, including administrative offices, warehouses and stores should be safe and tidy with unobstructed doorways and fire escapes
Am I allowed to claim is I was injured in the line of duty?
In the wake of a recent ruling on the subject of UK human rights legislation (and as legislated over by no less a judicial authority than the Supreme Court), this existing coverage extends to military personnel engaged in combat, whether that be at home or abroad too.
Court proceedings instigated by legal bodies argued (and ultimately won) a landmark case which ostensibly contested that the principle of combat immunity should henceforth mean Armed Forces personnel were protected by human rights as recognised by UK law; which they hadn’t been before hand.
This ruling means that despite an injury being caused whilst the claimant was on active duty, they could still be entitled to pursue a personal injury claim against the MoD, on various grounds (where appropriate). For instance if the member of the armed forces hadn’t received the proper level of training from the outset, or had not been equipped with the right military hardware to undertake the remits of their roles safely.
Although identified as still a sometimes tricky area of law, the timely revisions to legislation governing what members of the armed forces can and cannot pursue personal injury claims for has given rise to a significant number of successful cases; culminating in compensation claims being paid-out to soldiers and their families.
What are the Crown Proceedings Act and No Fault Armed Forces Compensation Scheme?
The Crown Proceedings Act had made it impossible for any armed forces personnel who suffered a personal injury during their service that occurred BEFORE the 15th May 1987 to make a personal injury claim. However the Crown Proceedings Act regarding this is no longer in force and subsequently any armed forces personnel who have suffered an injury (or occupational disease for that matter) as a result of their service AFTER 15th May 1987 can now submit a claim for compensation. That is if it can be proven that their injury (or disease) came about as a direct result of negligence (or reckless behaviour) on the part of any of the armed forces (the British Army, Royal Navy or Royal Air Force).
If so, would-be claimants would be able to pursue a compensation claim in exactly the same way as a civilian would take action against their employer. Worth noting though, this would NOT be the case if an injury was sustained in an active operation.
The No Fault Armed Forces Compensation Scheme is geared up for accidents which specifically took place AFTER the 6th April 2005; and which DOES mean victims may be entitled to claim for personal injury compensation. If the accident occurred PRIOR to this particular date, then you could be able to claim via a War Pension payment; but this can only happen once the claimant has been discharged from the services. With reference to the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme however, it’s imperative that a would-be claimant instigated the compensation process while they’re still employed in the services, with a statute of limitations in place which prevents individuals from making a claim if the accident occurred more than seven years ago.
How is the level of compensation calculated?
As is normally the case, the severity of your injuries (along with the ways in which it’s affected an individual’s capacity to work thereafter) will go a long way to determining just how much a claimant will be awarded in terms of financial compensation. In addition to this any loss of earnings (both immediate after suffering the injury and in the future, as a result of the injury) are taken into account by the awarding parties, which is also said to acknowledge projected losses, when considering a claimant who pre-accident was set for promotion.
Furthermore there are extra-curricular factors which need to be addressed, chiefly with reference to other costs accrued by the injury and its legacy, typically including the costs of any medical treatment, adapting a vehicle for an individual’s use or changes made to their home to accommodate an injury.
How to make a claim
If you suspect you may be eligible to make a claim, get in touch with CL Legal today. Our expert personal injury solicitors can advise, guide and ultimately, represent you going forward, providing that your claim has merits and can highlight the failings/negligence of your employer; in as much as this was pivotal to the accident befalling you in the first instance.
But be aware that you need to press for a claim procedure to start ASAP, because – and as per the majority of personal injury claims – you need to activate this procedure within three years of the accident in order for it to remain valid. That said there are a couple of exceptions to this, which tend to include if you are not aware of the injury at first. So, if you are made ill in the course of your work (or are injured in some way but this is only diagnosed later), the time limit begins from the juncture when you first became aware of the problem.
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