The scheme is operated under Rule 9.26 of the PCS rules, at the discretion of the national executive committee (NEC).
This means that there is no absolute entitlement to assistance. The NEC, if it decides to grant assistance, may withdraw assistance if they do not believe the case should be supported further. The decision of the NEC will be exercised through the director of legal services except where the NEC decides otherwise.
The operation of the scheme
1. The PCS scheme provides assistance to members and their partners/spouse who have an accident or injury (whether or not at work), develop an illness, or who are the victims of medical negligence anywhere in the United Kingdom where that accident, injury or illness is caused by someone else’s negligence.
The PCS Scheme also extends to members’ families where the family member has an accident outside of work or is the victim of medical negligence.
2. Any claim for a partner/spouse or family member who is injured at work should normally be directed to his or her own trade union in the first instance. Claims for a partner or family member will not be accepted where they are eligible to join PCS or the recognised trade union in their workplace but have not done so.
3. In order for the member, partner/spouse or family member to qualify under the scheme the member must normally be a fully paid up member of PCS and have been a member at the time of the accident or injury arising.
4. Where a claim has been started using the member’s own lawyers, assistance will not normally be given. If the claim is accepted this will only be on the basis that the member is responsible for any costs arising prior to the involvement of the PCS legal and personal case unit.
5. The member is deemed to have authorised the union’s lawyers to disclose any information relating to the case, including medical reports, to PCS.
6. PCS may withdraw assistance at any time if the member fails to co-operate with the prosecution of the claim, including failure to attend medical examinations, to respond to correspondence and/or to provide all the relevant information.
Should assistance be withdrawn, the member will be liable for any legal costs incurred by the union up to that point.
The member may be notified of his/her liability to cost either by PCS legal and personal case unit or its chosen solicitors. In particular the member’s attention is drawn to clause 7 below.
7. If the member chooses to withdraw or transfers instructions after a claim has been intimated to potential defendants (other than with PCS consent), the member will be liable for the union’s legal costs incurred up to that date.
Note: Any reference to the term “member” in clauses 4 - 7 of the terms and conditions refers to the individual making the claim, whether member, partner/spouse or family member.
General guidance - personal injury claims
Unfortunately, not all accidents or injuries give rise to a right to compensation.
To succeed you need to show a number of things, namely that:
- there is someone against whom a claim can potentially be made; and
- he/she owes you a duty to avoid injury to you and can take reasonable steps to avoid that injury; andhe/she has failed to take reasonable steps to avoid injuring you; and
- your injuries are a direct and foreseeable consequence of the failure to avoid injuring you.
Limitation: is it too late to pursue a claim?
Court proceedings must be started within three years from the date when the accident or injury occurred.
For RSI and similar occupational injuries, limitation is likely to run from the date when the claimant first began to suffer symptoms, whether or not these symptoms were given a specific diagnosis.
Court proceedings for claims involving ships, aircraft or similar must be started within two years. Similarly, in the case of a criminal injury (assault), an application needs to be submitted to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority within two years of the date of the assault.
Important: PCS cannot guarantee to take on a case or to issue court proceedings where the claim is received by the PCS legal and personal case unit less than four weeks before limitation expires.
If you are involved in a road traffic accident, it must be reported to the police. (NB the driver causing the accident can be prosecuted for not doing so).
Any report to the police can be used by the injured party in proceedings for compensation, so do not make any statements that might lead blame to be placed on you, or prejudice the claim.
If you are involved in a road traffic accident you should inform your insurance company as soon as possible, even if you do not intend making a claim through them. Failure to do so may lead to them refusing to take the claim on later.
If the accident has happened at work it should be reported to the local DWP Office. You may be entitled to claim for industrial injuries disablement benefit. Your local DWP should be able to advise you.
Where an injury qualifies as a disability, you may be entitled to claim under the Equality Act if your employer fails to make reasonable adjustments to your workstation or method of work upon your return to work.
Discrimination claims are pursued through Employment Tribunals and the claim has to be lodged within three months of the act of discrimination unless you can show an ongoing grievance in which case the time limit may be extended.
Where you think that you may have a discrimination claim you should contact your branch officials or PCS group office as a matter of urgency for advice on the possibility of taking a case and certainly within the three month limit.
Civil service pensions injury benefits scheme
Where an accident has occurred at work and while on duty it may be possible to apply for injury benefit under the Civil Service Injury Benefits Scheme (formerly known as Section 11 of the PCSPS).
Any injury benefit paid is dependent on the extent to which earning capacity is impaired as a result of the injury and length of service.
It should be noted, however, that these benefits will have to be repaid should a claim for personal injury compensation succeed.
Contact your department or agency superannuation section for further information in the first instance.
When making a claim under the PCS personal injury compensation scheme, you are advised not to discuss your claim with anyone without first seeking advice from your assigned solicitor.
Please note PCS may wish to publicise the outcome of your claim.