We sponsor and work with Defence Medical Welfare Services and represent clients already being helped by organisations such as the Royal British Legion, Army Benevolent Fund (The Soldiers’ Charity) and SSAFA.
An organisation will often have identified a need that a client may have, but be unable to fund it. By making a civil claim, our team may well be able to provide access to significant capital funding, and thus put the client’s future on a sound financial footing.
Professional organisations deal with the immediate needs that our clients may have, and we’re really grateful for these organisations’ help.
The need for legal advice
Where there is a legal issue it’s important that advice is provided only by qualified lawyers. Volunteers and case workers need to be sure they can spot any situation where the client can get access to funds and resources to help rebuild their lives.
It is especially important to understand if your client is missing any time limits for bringing a compensation claim. It is sometimes possible to get an extension to such a time limit, but bringing a claim sooner rather than later increases the chances of success.
If you are thinking of referring your client to a legal team, here are points to remember about working with Bolt Burdon Kemp:
- Asking us won’t cost the client or your organisation a penny
- We can usually agree to act on a ‘no win no fee’ basis
- This means there is nothing to lose by asking
Damage to military careers
It is important to understand that a seemingly trivial injury to a service man or woman can have a serious effect on their military career, meaning a loss of many tens or even hundreds of thousands of pounds.
For example, if the injury means a window for promotion is missed and the person cannot sign up for the next tranche of service, there can be a significant loss of earnings and pension, through no fault of the client.
Damage to post military careers
Even if a person were at the end of their military career when injured, this could affect their prospects after leaving the forces.
For example, if the service man or woman is unable to fulfil their goal of joining the police, they may have lost substantial pay and pension from the new opportunity, as well as from their time in the forces. This may be a valid reason for extra compensation.
Another person may have had to leave the forces before reaching a particular rank, or completing a particular specialist course. This could mean that they won’t be able to pursue a number of careers; nursing, or certain roles in private security abroad, for example. These factors can be taken into account in the claims process.
See our compensation section on military claims for more information on how claims are calculated.
Injury caused by civilians
Military compensation schemes do not help service personnel who have been injured by civilians even if the injury ends their career. This can leave deserving clients injured in Road Traffic Accidents (RTAs) or by medical negligence, for example, without resources and deprived of their rights.
If the accident is caused by civilian negligence, the loss of career, promotion and pension can still be claimed in full from the person who is responsible. The compensation is measured by what has been lost, rather than who caused it.
It follows, however, that lawyers representing service personnel need to know a lot about military careers. Using a solicitor specialising in RTAs or Medical Negligence but who doesn’t understand the military could lead to the client missing out.
Injury off duty
The Armed Forces Compensation Scheme and War Pension are unlikely to compensate if an injury was caused off duty, but if negligence was involved there may be a civil claim that can be made.
Here it pays to work with specialist military claims solicitors who understand the nuances involved when service personnel make such claims.
Duty of care
There’s a common misconception that service personnel are expected to put up with a lower duty of care than civilian employees. The opposite is true.
The military is obliged to take reasonable steps to avoid reasonably foreseeable injury, just like a civilian employer or healthcare provider.
The fact that some activities or equipment, such as diving or firearms, are obviously potentially dangerous can actually result in more stringent requirements for care. Military doctors, for example, will be expected in law to have a greater familiarity with unusual conditions, such as PTSD and gunshot wounds, than many civilian practitioners.
Specialist advice from our expert team will be necessary to understand what the MoD’s duty of care actually is, in cases such as:
- Faulty or inappropriate equipment
- Unsafe working practices
- Bullying and harassment
- Sexual assault
- Stress at work
- Medical negligence
Topping up the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme
Bolt Burdon Kemp usually works with clients in a way that complements their claim through the AFCS. A court can provide additional resources for a client with an AFCS award, whether they receive the maximum or the minimum under the scheme. These extra resources can cover:
- Care – including paid domestic help and if people have to sleep over during the night. Also an allowance for unpaid help, for example if a husband or wife has to spend three hours a day helping to wash or dress. Having a case manager if a person can’t arrange their own medical appointments (perhaps someone with PTSD)
- Equipment – for example, a foot spa for someone with a non-freezing cold injury. The extra cost of an automatic car for orthopaedic injuries, bed or bath hoist, or a wheelchair
- Adaptations to house – for example to make it wheelchair accessible
- Accommodation – if a client needs to move to a completely new house if an old one was unsuitable after injury
- Fertility treatment
- Private medical treatment
Myths about time limits and suing the military
There are common misconceptions about suing the military. Here are a few, debunked:
- You can’t sue the military while you’re still serving – service personnel can and do sue the military while in the armed forces
- Courts will respect an unwillingness to sue while serving, even years after service – it is important to get in touch with a solicitor as soon as you think you may have a claim for negligence
- The time limit for AFCS or War Pension claims is the same as court time limits – see the information on time limits on our Military Claims page
- Claims in the civil courts are for civilians, not the military – not true. You can have claims with the AFCS or War Pension, and with a civilian court. However, separate time limits for each apply
If your client suffered injury within the military, then talk to us about making a military injury claim. We usually work on a ‘no win no fee’ basis, so it won’t cost your organisation or client a penny.