What is a service complaint?

According to the Service Complaints Commissioner for the Armed Forces, a service complaint is a workplace grievance. It covers wide of area of issues – in dealing with the various ways serving personnel can complain about how they think they have been mistreated in the military. Amongst the areas covered by service complaints are conditions of work, any action taken in respect of inadequate performance At work, and the way in which basic employment related services are delivered – including the payment of wages allowances [or any complaints about military pensions are dealt with by a separate complaint system].

Service complaints are sometimes wider in scope than comparable disciplinary and and grievance systems in non-military businesses. For example, service complaints can include dissatisfaction with any action taken by the military police.

Many such complaints are resolved informally – but some need formal resolution. Military personnel have, however, limited access to civilian Employment Tribunals. By way of example, a serving soldier can make an employment tribunal claim for compensation in respect of unlawful discrimination [though not disability or age discrimination], but employment tribunals don’t have the power to deal with military personnel when it comes to claims of unfair dismissal or for unfair selection for redundancy.

Looking for legal help with a service complaints? Contact us

Call a military solicitor from our team today on 01722 442300 or email us using the contact form below

Comments or questions are welcome.

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Claiming for loss of hearing or deafness in the military

Those who have served in the military and suffered hearing loss of tinnitus (ringing in the ears) after 1987 may find that they are eligible to claim compensation.

Loud engines, heavy machinery, explosions and gunfire can all lead to hearing loss, especially when Armed Forces personnel are not provided with the equipment they need to protect their hearing. The damage to hearing can be long-term, from tinnitus to deafness and it is only fair that individuals are compensated if they suffer due to failures on the part of the MoD. The MoD is bound by 2005 regulations designed to prevent the exposure of workers to very loud noises. The MoD should provide those exposed to high noise levels with ear plugs but it often not done. The health and hearing of military personnel should also be checked regularly.

In order to claim compensation for hearing loss, comprehensive evidence will be needed. An audiologist will be needed to assess the claimant and produce a report on the cause of their injuries and their severity. If it can be shown that the loss of hearing has been sustained due to military service rather than other factors and that this directly resulted from the negligence of the military, the claim is likely to succeed.

The armed forces rely on the excellent communication skills and teamwork or all members. Hearing loss can therefore be career threatening. If you have serious hearing difficulties or ear problems such as ear drum perforation or grommets, you will not be accepted into the armed forces. Equally, if you develop serious hearing difficulties, you could be discharged from service.

Recent research from a campaign group suggests that 2 out of every 3 members of the armed forces who served in Afghanistan now have hearing difficulties.

Call our military lawyers for advice on military deafness claims

It is important to instruct expert solicitors for your military deafness compensation claim but these can be difficult to come by. Fortunately, the solicitors at Bonallack & Bishop specialise in military injury claims.

Whether you are in the army, navy or air force, if you are thinking of claiming compensation for your hearing loss, get in touch today with us on 01722 422300, or

Send us an email via the contact form below.

Comments or questions are welcome.

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Military injury claims – the real figures, the real cost

According to figures recently published by the government, the last seven years has seen 36,000 retired and serving military personnel successfully claim injury compensation. In addition to the successful claims, a further 11,000 were unsuccessful.

The statistics also reveal that since 2005, 16,000 of those 36,000 claims, were made by military personnel for injuries they suffered either on training or on the battlefield – under which together they received a total compensation package of almost £341 million.

The figures confirm that the highest military injury compensation claim payouts were to those who have received the most serious injuries – with individuals receiving lump sums of up to £570,000 to a total of £114 million.

One of the reasons given for the rise,  of course, was the introduction by the Ministry of Defence after 2005, of the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme. The new scheme is, as I reported in an earlier blog [Click here to read my earlier blog about the AFCS], is hardly generous rise scandalously little compensation for many serious injuries – far, far less than you would receive in a civilian court for an accident at work – but that scheme was a distinct improvement on the scheme. It replaced in 2005 – the much more limited War Pension Scheme. Partly due to more active promotion of the new and improved compensation scheme by the MoD (with increased advertising, it was featured for example, on YouTube) just 165 military personnel made claims for compensation in 2005 – but under the new Armed Forces Compensation Scheme , by 2011-12 that figure had increased to  8,815.

Those who work with the military you in will be aware of the truly horrendous injuries suffered by many serving soldiers – especially in Afghanistan. Whereas in years gone past, many of those with severe injuries simply died on the battlefield, improved modern medical techniques mean that  many more of those with really serious injury, survive – and this includes, for example, an increasing number of multiple amputees.

It seems to me, the providing a fair level of compensation for those who are severely injured whilst serving their country is entirely proper – yet the likes of the Daily Mail have launched yet another smear campaign against the so-called compensation culture, criticising the amount of compensation made payable to military personnel.

Whilst no one would support compensation being awarded in respect of fraudulent military claims for compensation, surely no one, not even the Daily Mail, could expect someone who had suffered severe physical injuries, with the loss of multiple limbs in the course of fighting for their country, to receive no financial assistance at all.

Thinking of making a military injury compensation claim? Our specialists can help

If you have sustained an injury on the battlefield or during a training exercise you could be entitled to compensation. Don’t rely on the MoD’s own Armed Forces compensation scheme – payouts are set well below the level of awards in civilian courts.

For specialist legal advice, simply give a military law solicitor from our team a call on 01722 422300, or

Get in touch using the enquiry form below.

Comments or questions are welcome.

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Service Complaints Commissioner criticises complaint system

The military service complaints system is broken – or at least that’s the message from Dr Susan Atkins, who is the Service Complaints Commissioner for the Armed Forces. In the forward to the Commissioner’s 2012 annual report published recently, Dr Atkins pulled no punches in her current views in admitting that, “for the fifth year running, I am still unable to say that the service complaint system is working efficiently, effectively or fairly”. Pretty damning stuff.

Dr Atkins also criticises the government’s rejection of her earlier recommendations for a separate Armed Forces Ombudsman, which she said would give an opportunity to increase confidence in serving military personnel that the service complaints system was working fairly, and to optimise the use of limited resources.

Dr Atkins also criticised the delay that continues to bedevil the complaints system – pointing out that by the end of 2012, the army still had 430 cases which have been stuck in the system for over 24 weeks – 24 weeks being the target period in which complaints should be finalised.

The report confirms that in 2012, there were 646 separate complaints made to the Commissioner – up by 23% since 2011 and 49% since 2010. However, many of these complaints were not internally related – but were from members of the public who wanted to complain about behaviour of military personnel.

Amongst the other findings of the 2012 annual report were that although male service personnel, [who provide 90% of regular armed forces manpower], it was female personnel who were more likely to make a complaint with regard to discrimination, bullying, harassment or other improper behaviour. The report also ascertained that, depending on service and seniority, between 20 and 50% of all complaints were upheld – either in whole or in part.

All in all, a fairly negative report from the Commissioner – let’s hope she has something better to say about an improvement in the service complaints system next year.

Need legal advice with regard to service complaints? Contact us

Call our military law solicitors today on 01722 442300 or email us using the contact form below

Comments or questions are welcome.

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Claiming compensation for military injury – two options

As a member of the Armed Forces, you have two options when it comes to claiming compensation for an accident sustained on duty.

Firstly, you can follow the usual civilian claims route and make your personal injury claim against the Ministry of Defence through a county court with the assistance of a specialist accident claims solicitor. This is the way most service personnel choose to make a claim.

The Armed Forces Compensation Scheme

Alternatively, you may prefer to claim for yourself, or on behalf of a family member through the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS) which is open to all military personnel. The AFCS was established in 2005 as a replacement for the War Pensions Scheme and accounts for all types and severity of injury.

The scheme was designed to reduce the traffic in the county courts, instead encouraging armed forces members to use the military process and with the number of military claims going through county courts declining it appears to have been successful. The problem is that those using AFCS tend to receive smaller payouts due to the rigid 15 tiered system used to assess injuries and the compensation that should be paid. Unfortunately, this means that claimants often receive less than they deserve and effectively only receive their military pension with a small amount added as compensation.

The AFCS will not pay out more than £570,000 irrespective of the seriousness of the injury and when this is compared to the millions which may be awarded in a disastrous injury claim it appears very small. Some important considerations appear to be overlooked in AFCS payouts such as medical care expenses, loss of earnings due to forced retirement, costs of adapting the home and lost pension rights. These things would all be considered in the county courts.

It should be mentioned that the scheme generously gives claimants 7 years in which to make their claim compared to the three year claims limit enforced by the county courts. The danger here though is that is that military personnel are unaware of the different time limits and miss out on their chance to claim in the county courts.

For specialist advice on Military Injury Compensation, call us today

If you’re thinking of making claim following either an accident at work, or after suffering medical negligence in the military, we strongly advise that you instruct a military injury claims expert to handle your case. These can be hard to come by but thankfully our accident claim team have the experience of dealing with the military you need to recover the full and fair amount of compensation that you deserve – wherever you are based in the UK, or overseas.

Call us now on 01722 422300, or

Complete the contact form below to get in touch with our military law solicitors.

Comments or questions are welcome.

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New member of the LSAP and AFHOS team

IMPORTANT –  LSAP [the Long Service Advance of Pay scheme] is frozen and  AFHOS [the Armed Forces Home Ownership Scheme] has closed. Neither is open to new applications. They were replaced in April 2014 by FHTB [the Forces Help To Buy Scheme] – click here to find out more about this new military home loan scheme

We are pleased to welcome Sara Fewell who has become the newest member of our legal team in Salisbury. Sara, who qualified as a Licensed Conveyancer in 2010 joins our Residential Property department bringing enthusiasm and experience to the position. In particular, Sara will lead the team dealing with all aspects of conveyancing for the military, including property purchases using both the MoD’s Long Service Advance of Pay and Armed Forces Home Ownership Scheme.

Prior to joining Bonallack & Bishop, Sara worked for firms in Southampton and Bristol alongside studying for the Council for Licensed Conveyancers exams. Her experience spans all areas of residential conveyancing so for advice on sales or purchases, remortgaging or transferring equity, get in touch with Sara. Whether buying or selling a property, developing a strong relationship with your conveyancer is essential. Sara recognises this and enjoys building a rapport with her clients and keeping them informed throughout the legal process.

Tim Bishop, the firm’s Senior Partner, expressed his excitement at adding Sara to the team, saying, “Sara’s experience as a conveyancer strengthens our Residential Property team and we are sure that her clients will appreciate her personable manner and commitment to easing the stress of moving home. I’m particularly pleased that she has good experience of dealing with the military – as we are seeing an increasing number of military clients buying property using both the LSAP and AFHOS schemes”.

For help with LSAP or AFHOS, contact our team today

• To receive a FREE quote, give our military law solicitors a call on [01722] 422300, or

• Send us an e-mail at advice@military-lawyer.co.uk

 

Claiming compensation – army training accidents

You would expect the vast majority of army accidents to be sustained in the heat of battle, however a greater number of injuries (albeit less serious ones) are suffered on manoeuvres and in training.

When army personnel are not given sufficient briefing and preparation or are treated neglectfully by superiors they can be put at great risk during training exercises. Procedures exist to negate the risks involved but these are sometimes not followed leading to accidents which cause injury. If you are injured on armed forces training and it is not your fault, you could be entitled to claim compensation.

When you join the army, you prepare yourself for a dangerous career and the exercises you undertake in preparation for war are also likely to carry a degree of risk. However, like anyone, members of the army should be able to rely on their employers to protect their well being in the workplace. If members of the armed forces are not properly briefed or supplied with faulty equipment by their supervisor a compensation claim should be considered. However, a successful claim will require proof that the injuries sustained were caused by negligence or careless on the part of the MoD.

There are deadlines for making a claim so it is important to act quickly. Generally speaking, military injury claims must be made within 3 years of the incident. However, this limit is increased to 5 years if you are claiming under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme.

Thinking of making a claim after an army accident? Our army lawyers can help

If you have sustained an injury during an army training exercise which you do not believe was your fault, our specialist army lawyers could help you win deserved compensation.

  • To get specialist legal advice, simply give us a call on 01722 422300, or
  • Get in touch using the enquiry form below.

Comments or questions are welcome.

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Common causes of work accidents in the military

Work in the Armed Forces can, to the uninformed outsider, appear far more hazardous than almost any job they might care to consider outside of the military. The tendency is to believe that members of the armed forces spend much of their time handling weapons, munitions and explosives, parachuting out of aircraft, riding over rough terrain in huge, heavy armoured vehicles and generally risking life and limb twenty four seven.

In actual fact, with the exception of combat, they are as safe at work as most people and a good deal safer than many. That is because the Ministry of Defence (MoD) or any sub-contractor employing people in the military are under the same legal duty as any other employer to ensure that workplaces are safe and to ensure as far as is reasonably practicably the health and safety of their employees.

Only in very rare and exceptional cases will the Secretary of State for Defence exempt the MoD from having to comply with the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 on grounds of ‘national security’ or due to what is called the ‘combat exemption’; where personal injury claims cannot be brought in instances where the injury was sustained when the victim was in a combat zone and exposed to enemy action.

Consequently the causes of most of the work accidents in the military tend to be the same as the causes of similar accidents in other work sectors. Accidents involving slips and trips and manual and other handling statistically predominate, followed by being hit by an object and falls from height. This suggests that, as is still frequently found in ‘civvy street’, there can be instances in the military of poor health and safety practice around keeping the workplace clean and tidy to prevent slips and trips and providing sufficient or adequate manual handling training and reinforcing that training in a timely manner.

Less frequent instances of failures to keep military personnel safe at work manifest as injuries sustained as the result of inadequate clothing in cold and wet weather, friendly fire, sports accidents, military medical negligence, training accidents, road traffic accidents and psychological trauma/combat stress. Most of the accidents are avoidable, a considerable proportion are not the fault of the victim and just because that victim is a serving member of the military does not in any way mean that they are not permitted or entitled to make a workplace military accident claim for compensation.

For expert advice about claiming military accident compensation, talk to us first.

How common are accidents in the military workplace?

Considering all the potential dangers that members of the armed forces encounter in the course of their normal work, for instance in handling firearms and munitions, explosives, specialist vehicles, fast-roping, undertaking demanding physical training and playing sports, the number of accidents reported annually in recent years are relatively low. In 2010-11 the military reported the following accidents to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE):

• 1 fatality (due to a fall from height).

• 83 major injuries (the vast majority caused by slips and trips and rest as a result of manual and other handling, being hit by an object, falls, vehicles, animals and harmful substances).

• 181 over 3 day injuries, a third of which were caused by slips and trips and the remainder, in slightly different proportions, caused by the same factors as for major injuries.

Of course one accident is an accident too many but the gradually declining numbers of accidents in all reportable categories indicate that the Ministry of Defence is continuing to improve its expertise in risk management.

The statistics reported above only include injuries serious enough to require reporting to the HSE under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 and do not provide any indication of how many injuries in total are suffered by people working in the military which do not fall into that category. Fortunately, for the purposes of this article, a 2011 study for the US National Institute of Health (NIH) provides a snapshot of what could be considered a representative example of injury rates and risk factors for 660 British infantry soldiers sampled undergoing standard pre-deployment training. Additionally, data compiled by the Defence Analytical Services & Advice organisation indicates a markedly higher number of fatalities (non combat) and major injuries than appear in the HSE figures.

The NIH study found that in the course of the training 58.5% of the soldiers suffered one or more injuries. 71% of those injuries were to the lower body, including 14% to the lower back, 19% to the knees and 15% to ankles. 83% of the total injuries were blunt trauma injuries. The injuries were sustained thus:

    • 30% physical training
    • 26% general training/work
    • 22% playing sports
    • 22% other causes

95% of the sample stated that they had previously suffered lower body and specifically lower back injuries during their period of service.

These statistics, if we choose to consider them as a representative sample of the injuries and risks experienced by the military as a whole, suggest that HSE reported injuries might represent just the tip of an enormous unreported and uncompensated injury iceberg.

Contact our Military Injury Claim Solicitors today

Considering making a military injury compensation claim? Our team are specialists

For FREE phone advice and a FREE first appointment

• Call our Military Solicitors on (01722) 422300 or

• E-mail our team at advice@military-lawyer.co.uk 

The consequences of military related illness and disease

Taking the consequences of military related illness and diseases in order of importance from a humanitarian standpoint inevitably places the pain and suffering of the service personnel who contract diseases and fall ill through no fault of their own unquestionably in the number one position. Some of the diseases members of the military can be exposed to in far flung corners of the globe can be extremely unpleasant and even potentially fatal, such as Coxiella Durnetii which can cause inflammation of the heart or Visceral Leishmaniasis which inflicts a cocktail of adverse health outcomes, such as fever, enlargement of internal organs, weight loss and even death on its victims.

Add to those more ‘exotic’ ailments such well-known diseases as tuberculosis, malaria, influenza, various industrial diseases and a range of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), to name but a small number, and it is easy to understand the extent of the potential health perils serving members of the military might be exposed to – if their employer doesn’t comprehensively discharge their duty of care towards them. The vast majority of food, soil and water-borne diseases, industrial diseases, blood-borne infections, respiratory infections and STDs are preventable or treatable and the Ministry of Defence has a legal responsibility under current health and safety regulations to see to that they are prevented or treated.

The second most important consequence of military related illness and disease is the reduction in efficiency in the armed forces caused by servicemen and women being unavailable for duty due to having contracted a disease and fallen ill. A recent study of hospitalised and out-patient British servicemen/women carried out by the American National Institute for Health (NIH) found that within their sample, on average, those hospitalised due to disease stayed in hospital for 3 days and were off duty for 20 days. Those who were out-patients and attended hospital on average once were off duty for 22 days. Considering that on average ten to fifteen times the number of service personnel fall in due to disease (usually on operational duty) than are injured as a result of being injured in combat, the scale of the problem begins to come into focus.

At number three in the top three of consequences is the fact that service personnel, who contract diseases because their employer failed to take the necessary steps to protect them, might be able to make a claim for compensation. Many service personnel, who find themselves in this situation, for instance, suffering from malaria because they were not vaccinated or vaccinated in time or suffering from the effects of inhaling asbestos dust or some other hazardous substance, would benefit from consulting a specialist solicitor who specialises in military injury claims.

Need a Military Injury Claim Solicitor – call us today

There are strictly enforced time limits for all accident and medical negligence claims. Don’t risk losing your right to the compensation you deserve.

For FREE phone advice and a FREE first appointment from one of our Specialist Military Solicitors;

• Call (01722) 422300 or email us at advice@military-lawyer.co.uk