05 March 2024

Why should military veterans consider civil claims over AFCS for injuries sustained during service?

Ruth Craven Senior Associate

Military veterans and armed forces personnel are at risk of being undercompensated for injuries sustained during service.

This is because the Ministry of Defence (MoD) often do not make military personnel aware of their right to bring a civil claim, and instead encourage their injured personnel to bring a claim through the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS).

What is the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS)?

The AFCS pays compensation to service personnel who have suffered an injury or illness while on duty on or after 6th April 2005. It is a no-fault scheme, so the payment 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. The level of compensation depends on the severity of the injury and its effects.

Why is it often better to bring a civil claim?

The AFCS is a tariff-based compensation scheme which does not account for loss of earnings or loss of career prospects. The amount awarded through the tariff is also often significantly below the amount that would be awarded for the same type of injury via a civil claim.

This often makes a significant difference to the amount of compensation awarded. If military personnel are injured during service through the negligence of the MoD, and they are medically discharged as a result, they are often not in a position to find a similar level of employment (particularly when considering the generous military pension, and other allowances or benefits provided through service).

The aim of a civil claim is to achieve compensation which puts them back into the position they would have been had the accident not happened. This is often impossible to achieve without claiming for loss of earnings (which is usually the most significant head of loss).

Even if you have not been medically discharged, bringing a civil claim is usually the best route to achieve the maximum amount of compensation if the MoD are at fault.

This does not mean there is no place for AFCS claims. There are many situations where a claim through the AFCS is the correct approach, but it is always worth seeking specialist legal advice on the matter in the first instance.

If you have brought an AFCS claim, this does not in itself preclude you from bringing a civil claim. The AFCS damages would simply be off-set against the damages recovered through a civil claim.  

Being seriously injured can have life changing implications, but by seeking legal advice at an early stage, we can ensure military personnel recover the necessary damages to ensure they can get their lives back on track.

A financial award can help towards rehabilitation, and can make all the difference to military personnel, and their families, as they try to adjust to life after an injury.

Final thoughts

Here at Wilkin Chapman, we specialise in representing injured military personnel. If you need any help or guidance after suffering an injury, please contact us on 0800 046 2576.

Ruth Craven, Wilkin Chapman LLP
Need help?

Contact Ruth to discuss this further.

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