22 Dec 2021

ACC apologise for failing to tell woman she was eligible for financial compensation

3:31 pm on 22 December 2021

The Accident Compensation Corporation has formally apologised for failing to tell a woman she could be eligible for weekly compensation after she had to give up working due to post-traumatic stress disorder.

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Photo: RNZ/Vinay Ranchhod

The sexual assault survivor said ACC told her she was better off staying on a sickness benefit because its own process for getting weekly compensation was "too traumatic".

The woman asked ACC staff three times how to apply for weekly compensation but said she was either discouraged from doing so or not given the right information.

ACC disputes she was discouraged but an internal investigation found its staff did breach the Code of ACC Claimaint's Rights by failing to tell her how to apply.

In a letter, the agency said it sincerely apologised for ACC's failure to maintain its obligations under the Code. "We could have communicated with you better and informed you earlier regarding ACC's eligibility criteria to consider weekly compensation," it said.

ACC said it had raised these issues with staff as it looked to continuously improve its service.

The woman said she was pleased to receive an apology. "I hope that ACC do make changes as promised in their apology letter, so that people like me will experience less distress and receive the correct advice and support from them as soon as possible."

New figures revealed last week show few ACC sensitive claimaints receive financial support from the agency.

The woman's lawyer Brittany Peck, from John Miller Law, said it was encouraging to see ACC own up to its mistakes.

"I hope that ACC pay heed to stories like this in their current consultation on handling of sensitive claims. I also hope the government pays heed to it, and takes steps to reform the law that currently underlies the complex processes for claimants, and indeed ACC staff, and which results in unfair outcomes for sensitive claimants."

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