Can I make a Defence Forces Accident Claim*?
We understand that filing a compensation claim against the Defence Forces can be intimidating. Soldiers have the same right to compensation as civilians. A military injury claim, also referred to as a military negligence claim, is a legal process in which a member of the military service files a personal injury claim against the Defence Forces for an injury sustained while serving for the Defence Forces.
Even though providing military service for your country is recognised as being a dangerous job and many Defence service personnel accept the fact that they may sustain an injury in the line of duty, it does not mean that they do not have the same rights as everyone else. If an accident occurs that could have been avoided with reasonable care, the injured party may be in a position to file a negligence claim.
Common Defence Forces Accident Claims*
It is essential to take all necessary safety precautions within the Defence Forces as their nature presents challenges to working safely on a daily basis.
The Defence Forces have a responsibility to ensure that the best possible safety procedures are carried out and followed. The Defence Forces are accountable for safety hazards that may cause a personal injury to a soldier or a Defence Forces personnel.
The most common Defence Forces accident claims are:
- Accidents resulting from the careless discharge of guns
- Injuries sustained by a non-freezing cold, also known as trenchfoot
- Training drill accidents
- Accidents involving the Defence Forces vehicles that was not your fault
- Falls from a height
- Hearing loss caused by noise
- Fatal injuries
- Off duty accidents
- Aircraft accidents
- Military PTSD claims
- An injury caused by a military accommodation that is either hazardous or substandard
- Victims of military abuse including sexual assault, sexual abuse or harassment.
What do I do if I'm involved in a Defence Forces Accident?
Following a Defence Forces accident, there are a number of steps you should follow:
Seek medical attention
Your health is your wealth and should be your first priority. Immediately after a military accident, take a second to assess yourself to determine if you have any injuries. Then check if anybody else involved in the accident need medical treatment. If you or anyone else involved has sustained a serious injury ensure that you contact an ambulance or medic to attend the scene.
For minor injuries, you must remember that minor injuries where you ‘feel fine’ could progress to more serious injuries in the future. In this case, it is always better to be safe than sorry and advisable that you inform the medic or your local GP and get your injury checked out.
Report the accident
It is critical to report the accident to your superior. It doesn’t matter how small you think the accident may be. By law, accidents at work are required to be reported if the person is injured and can’t perform their daily work tasks for more than three days. Make sure to fill out an Accident Report Form. This can be used for reference in any medical examination and will also prevent any similar accidents from happening in the future.
Identify any witnesses
If possible, try to collect the contact details of anybody that witnessed your accident. This may be of use if you do decide to pursue a military accident claim. It is also useful to find out if there is any CCTV in the area where your accident happened.
Document the incident
It is important that you collect all the relevant information in connection with your accident:
- How the accident happened
- Details of any witnesses
- If there are any CCTV recordings of your accident
- Take pictures of where the accident happened and what caused your accident
Speak to an accident claims solicitor
If you are considering moving forward with a Defence Forces accident claim for any personal injuries sustained it is advisable that you speak with an accident claims solicitor as soon as possible. If you are proceeding with a claim, the first step will be submitting your claim to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) for assessment. An accident solicitor can help you in preparing your application to the Injuries Board and ensure that you follow the process in the correct format, meaning that you can move forward with your claim quickly without unnecessary delays.
It is important to remember to keep copies of any expenses that you have incurred as a result of the accident. It is also imperative to retain copies of medical reports or incident report forms where possible as you will need them when making a claim.