ACC support for traumatised earthquake victims
The ACC Futures Coalition, an organisation set up to oppose the privatisation of the ACC accounts and to maintain the standard of ACC services, has congratulated ACC for its response to the Christchurch earthquake and is drawing attention to a little known provision from the Accident Compensation Act that could help many of those who have been traumatised by the events there and are unable to return to work because of that mental trauma.
“We would like to commend ACC for their response to the earthquake,” said Coalition spokesperson Hazel Armstrong. “The scheme is demonstrating that it is there for all of us in times of need. However, the full relevance of the Act may not be known by those most affected.”
“In October 2008, the ACC law was changed to allow workers, who are traumatised at work because they directly experience an event – such as an earthquake or a robbery, to apply to ACC for compensation.”
“The law change came about because the Government recognised that mental trauma can cause incapacity. Parliament was convinced by the experience of a train driver who – on the Hutt line – had the misfortune to run over a person who was on the track. He was so traumatised he could not return to work.”
“The Christchurch earthquake was seriously traumatic for many workers, said Ms. Armstrong. “It occurred during the working day and the sight, sound and experience of the earthquake would have led to trauma for many.”
“The threshold is high. In order to obtain cover and entitlement, the person must suffer a clinically significant behavioural, cognitive or psychological dysfunction. In other words the person must suffer more than stress or worry, but the person does not also have to suffer a physical injury,” said Ms. Armstrong.
“The claim must be supported by a reputable medical diagnosis (for example, post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and/or depression), and there must be clear evidence of the harm that resulted from the medical condition”.
Entitlements to weekly compensation can be sought, as well as treatment such as counselling and/or medication. Once the condition has stabilised, lump sum compensation can be sought. The claim is lodged by a treatment provider with ACC.
Those seeking more information should contact ACC or their treatment provider, or failing that their union or other advocate.
Contact: Hazel Armstrong Spokesperson) 027 472 1793
02:56PM Thursday, 10 March, 2011
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