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Armed and military forces always involve risk even in the civilian role. Members of the British army, navy, and Air force are aware of the dangers involved during training and handling of equipment. There is always a possibility of injury wherever they are deployed. The military person willingly joins the forces to serve the nation despite the risks involved. This sense of duty shouldn’t be abused by employers and should take all reasonable steps to keep their employees as free from harm as possible. The military forces are expected to accept some level of risk while the enemy clashes during the heat of battle. But that doesn’t mean they have to get injured due to their employer's irresponsibility or negligence.
As per the Health and Safety at work Act 1974, the MoD is obliged to ensure that the environment in which their employees are working is as freer from risk as possible.
Previously the Crown Proceedings Act 1947 was applicable to the members of the armed forces. They couldn’t launch any claim for negligence against the Crown. Since 1987, the member of the armed forces can file claims against the Ministry of defense. Now, the armed forces people can file claims like normal civilians can do. Now, in case of personal injuries, they are allowed to pursue negligence claims against their employer that is MoD in this case. However, no one can claim any damages that happened before 1987 like the asbestos-related illness.
There is one concept called ‘combat immunity’ which means that a person can’t file for negligence if he got injured while directly engaging with the enemy. However, combat immunity can be ignored if the injury occurred during training or using a faulty military machine. It becomes difficult to prove when actually a combat situation actually began. A personal injury lawyer should be consulted to ascertain if your case can be taken further for the compensation claim.
The military injury claim must be filed within the 3 year time of the incident which caused the injury. Hence, any claim should be made as soon as possible. In cases involving long term illness like asbestos-related illness or hearing loss, one must file within the 3 years from the date of diagnosis.
Usually, most military people are very mentally strong and patriotic by nature. Their job involves mental preparation for sacrifice for the nation. That’s why the military people are reluctant to pursue negligence claims against the MoD. However, we recommend you to bring any injustice or negligence done to you in the court of justice as it may save you from any future mistakes. Moreover, you receive financial support for your future medical expenses and any loss of earning caused by the injury. So, you don’t need to feel guilty for filing a claim against MoD, it’s your right to fight compensation claims for injuries caused by negligence.
The MoD operates a scheme called The Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS) which is very different from claiming compensation through the courts. According to AFCS, a member of the armed forces can file a claim based on the severity of illness under a Guaranteed Income Protection (GIP) payment. For this, the person should have been injured, suffered an accident, or gotten sick on duty. The GIP payments aim at compensating for the future loss of earning capabilities due to the effect of injury caused. This compensation also includes the injuries incurred during direct combat with the enemy. The compensation is general on a fixed basis not including any expenses arising from the injury. Even if you have applied for or compensated under the AFCS, you can still file a negligence claim. However, your negligence claim amount will be adjusted as per the compensation you received thereby avoiding any double payments.