Military Compensation Claims

Bolt Burdon Kemp is one of the UK’s leading military claims firms. We pursue compensation for serving and former members of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces and Reserves and their families. We also act for civilians employed by NAAFI and the Ministry of Defence.

The Legal 500, 2015, describes us as “one of the best firms around for military claims”.

We are a national law firm covering all of England and Wales, and our solicitors will visit you wherever you are. We act for clients anywhere in the world who have been injured in connection with their work for the Ministry of Defence, and our military lawyers deal exclusively with military cases.

We understand the armed services

Working in and with the armed services is more than just a job. Almost any injury could seriously affect your career, livelihood, home and family.

Our success in military cases is based on our in-depth knowledge of how the forces deal with medical treatment, training, equipment and pensions. We know our way around military pay and career structures, medical grading systems and combat immunity. Read our success stories for more information.

All our specialist military solicitors belong to Forces Legal Network (Forces Law), the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers and Action Against Medical Accidents (AvMA).

What are the different types of military claims?

A claim can be brought against the Ministry of Defence (MoD) or another party, such as a civilian hospital or manufacturer of military equipment. Military compensation claims can involve:

Do I have a claim?

We understand that you need to know whether you have a good claim as soon as possible. Bolt Burdon Kemp’s military compensation specialists will be happy to talk to or email you to see whether your case would benefit from further investigation. If it would, we will then discuss with you the best way of funding your claim. We offer ‘no win no fee’ agreements if your case is suitable.

Is another person responsible for the injury?

To make a successful compensation claim for an injury, disease or illness you must show that it was caused at least in part by someone else’s negligence. In a military compensation case that “someone else” is likely to be the MoD, but it may also be a third party contracted by the MoD to provide services or equipment.

If you have been injured in a way that is not connected with your work you will still need advice form a military compensation specialist as your career and livelihood may be affected. We will need to be sure that the person you are suing is able to pay your compensation. As many cases of this sort are against the NHS and contractors used by the MoD, or civilian motorists who are insured, this is rarely a problem.

If you have suffered an injury while you are in the military you may feel (or have been told) that it is your own fault. This is often not the case. You should not accept this without further investigation. The systems relied upon, or the training you received, may have been substandard and this may have been the real cause.

How much compensation will I receive?

Assessing the short and long-term implications of your injury on your personal life and career prospects can be a complicated process and is based on different kinds of evidence. This means it would be wrong for us to provide a firm figure when you first get in touch with us.

What we can do is tell you about the factors we will take into account when we are acting for you. There will probably be ways in which you had not thought you would be disadvantaged; we can investigate them to help secure your future.

We will consult medical experts who can tell us the extent of the injury and whether your condition will deteriorate or improve in the future. We build the financial case on that advice.

Compensation for pain and suffering

The starting point will be your damages (compensation) for pain and suffering. There are usually past cases that have been decided in court that we compare to yours to get an idea of how much a judge would order the defendant to pay if the case were to go to trial.

Financial losses

We then look at the financial repercussions, which for military personnel can be unusually severe even for what in civilian life could be a relatively “minor” injury. For example, if a broken ankle is neglected and heals less well than it should, it could lead to a shorter career in the military and decrease the choice of jobs available upon discharge. You could lose out substantially on pay and pension both during and after service.

We also look at the hidden costs, such as the need for paid care to relieve the burden on loved ones or for special equipment and adaptations to your home – even new accommodation if necessary. Family members may have lost pay themselves because they have had to look after you. You could need medical treatment that would be better provided in the private sector than in the NHS.

We will research all these losses and put together a full list. We then try to reach a settlement with the defendant and, if that is not possible, make the case in court.

We will often recommend that you make an application under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS). You can and should do this at the same time as making a negligence, harassment or discrimination claim. In suitable cases, we can help you with the AFCS procedure.

Who will pay my legal costs?

‘No win no fee’

The most common arrangement for military claims is a ‘no win no fee’ (also known as a conditional fee) agreement. If you lose, as long as you have stuck to your part of the agreement, you will pay nothing at all. If we win, the defendant will pay the vast majority of our fees and expenses.

Existing insurance policies

You may have legal expenses insurance as part of an existing policy, such as your household contents cover. If so, you can choose to instruct the firm you want, even if it is not on your insurer’s panel.

Paying privately

Clients who do not benefit from insurance or who cannot or do not wish to enter into a ‘no win no fee’ agreement are given the option of paying privately.

Funding for Employment Tribunal cases

You may have insurance which will cover the cost of Tribunal proceedings but, if, you don’t, we will discuss the possibility of a contingency fee agreement, which means we would charge a percentage of your damages for our fees. You can read more about funding your legal costs here.

What are the time limits for military claims?

Our military clients sometimes tell us they thought they were not allowed make a negligence, assault or discrimination claim until after they had left the services.

This is wrong, and it is a misconception that can be very damaging to an injured person’s prospects of making a successful claim. The confusion comes in part from the fact that applications for some of the MoD’s own compensation or pension schemes cannot be started until discharge. A negligence claim is a completely different and independent procedure.

Even if you think you may have passed the time limit for making a negligence claim, you should call us to make sure. The rules are complicated and depend on the individual case. We can quickly work out whether we think you are out of time and can save you from having to figure it out yourself.

Some basic rules are as follows, but remember you may well need specialist advice on whether they apply in your case:

  • Negligence and assault cases: court proceedings must be started within three years of the date of the injury or the date when a “reasonable person” ought to have known they had been injured by something the other person did or did not do, or when they knew that person’s identity, whichever is the later. “Knowledge” and “reasonable person” are legal concepts that have been argued about in many cases
  • Harassment: court proceedings must begin within six years of the cause of action arising. Whether or not a series of acts amounts to harassment, and therefore when the time limit starts to run, is something you should discuss with a specialist
  • Discrimination: this is particularly difficult in cases involving military personnel. Please refer to our discrimination page for more information

What happens after my claim is won?

Protecting your means-tested benefits

Your financial circumstances will change if your compensation claim is successful. This means that if you receive any means tested benefits they may be at risk. You can protect your entitlement to your benefits by setting up a trust at the end of the compensation claim. Our specialist solicitors will be happy to advise you about this when your case concludes.

The costs process

The legal costs associated with a compensation claim include solicitor fees, barrister fees, experts’ fees, court fees and fees for obtaining records for your case.

When you win your compensation claim, normal practice is for the Defendant to pay most, if not all of your legal costs. Deciding how much the Defendant should pay can add to the length of the claim. We have a specialist team who work independently from our solicitors to ensure the solicitors’ costs process is dealt with speedily and to your advantage.

Investment advice

Investing compensation requires thought and often specialist advice. We can make a personal recommendation to an appropriate adviser on request.

Contact our dedicated armed forces compensation solicitors to discuss your claim further in complete confidence.