Few service people realise it is possible to make a claim through the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme at the same time as seeking compensation through the courts.
The compensation we see awarded by the AFCS is not always adequate, but it is worth applying if you are eligible.
Bolt Burdon Kemp’s specialist solicitors are highly experienced at claiming through the AFCS at the same time as through the courts. Please get in touch today to speak to a solicitor in our team – we usually work on a ‘no win no fee‘ basis.
AFCS and what it does
The AFCS pays compensation to service personnel who have suffered an injury or illness while on duty on or after 6 April 2005.
It is a no-fault scheme, so the payment awarded is not dependent on proving blame. Instead, it simply needs to be shown that an injury was sustained while in service, including combat and conflict situations.
As mentioned above, it is a good idea to apply for army injury compensation through the AFCS while also bringing a claim through the courts. Compensation from the AFCS will be offset against the award the court makes, but you will usually still be better off making both claims.
Making a claim with the AFCS
You are eligible to claim compensation if, while on duty, you suffered:
Families of servicemen and women who have died on duty are also able to claim compensation for their loss.
Current and former members of the UK Armed Forces, including reservists, can apply for army compensation as long as the application is made within seven years of the date of the incident.
The situation with illnesses and pre-existing conditions that have been made worse by service is more complex and is subject to strict time limits, so it is wise to apply for compensation as soon as possible. More information about these time limits is available on the Ministry of Defence website, where you can also download the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme claim form.
If you were injured before 2005 you will need to apply under a separate army compensation scheme, such as the War Pension Scheme.
How much does the AFCS pay out?
The level of the pay-out is dependent on the severity of the injury and its effects. These are determined by the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme Tariff (AFCS Tariff), which classes each incident from level 1 to level 15 (most to least severe). Injuries can vary from a minor fracture which heals quickly, leaving no disability, to very serious injuries, such as a limb amputation.
There are two main ways in which AFCS compensation will be awarded:
- Lump sum payment. This tax free payment is awarded if you have suffered an injury or illness. The amount will depend on the severity of your disability and will range from £1,200 to £570,000
- Guaranteed Income Payment (GIP). This compensation is awarded for the most serious injuries or illnesses, with an assessment at tariffs 11 to 1. It is a tax-free lifetime income, paid monthly either from the date service ends or from the date of the claim if it is made after discharge. The amount is calculated by multiplying a person’s basic salary by the appropriate age factor. The award will be a percentage of this calculation, depending on the details of your illness or injury
In general, claims must be lodged within seven years of the date of the incident. It is very important to note that you can apply for compensation while you are still in the services. However, there are some exceptions:
- Conditions or illnesses. Claim forms must be submitted within three years of seeking medical advice
- A service man or woman’s death. The claim must be brought within three years of the date of death
More information about these time limits is available on the Veterans Agency website, where you can also download claim forms.
Applying for compensation
When filling in the Veterans Agency claim form, information is required about the illness or injury. Details such as the impact the problem has had on health and when and how it happened will need to be included.
Please note that if we are advising you in relation to a (negligence or assault) claim, we would ask you to show us the form before you submit it to the Veterans Agency.
Where appropriate, the Veterans Agency will request evidence to support a claim. Reports from the Medical Officer and copies of Orders and accident/incident reports will help the claim to be dealt with more quickly.
Civil and AFCS claims
As mentioned above, it is possible to bring a claim in the courts alongside an AFCS claim. Please be aware that an AFCS award will not usually return a person to the financial position they would have been in had it not been for the accident.
A court claim, on the other hand, will take into account the full short- and long-term impact of the illness or injury on the service person’s life and career. It will assess any care and domestic help needed as a result of the injury or illness, including any adaptations needed to the person’s home and any private healthcare needed.
A claim with the courts will also look at the financial repercussions of the injury. This can be particularly beneficial to the claimant if it is an injury classed as minor by the AFCS, but which has had a long-lasting impact on your ability to seek employment following your military career.
Do note that the time limits for when you need to bring a claim in the courts differ from those applicable under the AFCS.
See this page for a useful infographic showing the distribution of claims made and paid under the AFCS.
Bolt Burdon Kemp can help
Bolt Burdon Kemp can help both submit a court claim and, in appropriate cases, lodge a claim with the AFCS. Our team of military solicitors belong to Forces Law, the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers and Action Against Medical Accidents.
The clients we represent can have peace of mind that they are in good and experienced hands, so contact us now for more information about bringing an army compensation claim.