Unlike perhaps any other field of employment, the military represents an all-encompassing way of life rather than just a job to the many tens of thousands of people employed by the Ministry of Defence in the United Kingdom’s Armed Forces. As a result, when a member of the military suffers an accident that is anything more than minor, the consequences can shake every aspect of their way of life and, if the legacy of the accident is a life changing disability, end that way of life altogether.
The Ministry of Defence has a formidable job on its hands in carrying out its legal responsibility to eliminate or minimise risk across an expansive range of workplace environments and work processes and on the whole it manages this responsibility expertly and successfully. In the rare incidences when it falls short, an accident occurs and a member of the Armed Forces suffers an injury, it usually proves a supportive employer.
The injured serviceman/woman might find that they are able to claim compensation through the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS) or by way of a War Pension. In addition they might also be able to make a personal injury claim which if successful could result in compensation many times higher than the maximum they could expect through the AFCS.
Such compensation might prove invaluable if a serviceman/woman’s injuries preclude them returning to work in the military or perhaps working at all, but whilst AFCS claims do not have to demonstrate another party’s negligence and can be the result of combat related injuries, a personal injury claim does have to demonstrate negligence and cannot be made for combat related injuries – the so called ‘combat immunity’ principle. The Ministry of Defence can also choose to waive it responsibilities under employment health and safety regulations where matters of national security are involved in the circumstances of the accident. Thus, in certain rare instances, the consequences of accidents in the military might include a serviceman/woman not receiving the compensation that in other circumstances that might have expected to receive.
It is usually more than worthwhile for an injured member of the military to contact an expert compensation claim lawyer who specialises in the military to be advised of the compensation avenues open to them. After all, if their injury is serious enough to bring their military career to close and perhaps permanently change their life thereafter; it is very least they owe themselves.
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