Wednesday, 22 December 2010

ACC Abuses Degenerate

Common Sense Court Verdict

We posted here on the disturbing trend by the Accident Compensation Corporation, a state-run monopoly, to refuse compensation to accident victims on the grounds that their injuries were a result of "degeneration", which is to say, old age. 

A recent court case appears to make that rort itself subject to degenerative decay.  Which is good news.  As reported in the NZ Herald, we read:
ACC has been ordered to pay for the neck surgery of an injured claimant, even though he was "predisposed" to spinal problems because of degeneration.  The Accident Compensation Corporation can use age-related degeneration as a reason for disqualifying a claimant for surgery but only if a personal injury is caused "wholly or substantially" by ageing. 

Alan Lyth, the principal of Bairds Mainfreight Primary School in Otara, fell 3m in June 2008 from a ladder that was leaning on his home after cleaning leaves off the roof.  Aged 59 at the time, he suffered injuries to his right buttock, right shoulder and neck.  His orthopaedic surgeon, Rodney Gordon, recommended a spinal operation, but ACC refused to pay after receiving a report from one of its medical advisers, orthopaedic surgeon Ray Fong, which concluded: "... this is a degenerative condition rendered symptomatic following an accident."

A reviewer agreed, but in appeal evidence given to District Court Judge Martin Beattie, Mr Gordon said the ladder accident was the "majority" cause of Mr Lyth's needing spinal surgery, although he acknowledged there were degenerative changes in his neck. . . . "On the balance of probabilities it is my opinion that the injury certainly caused more than 25 per cent of the problem for which surgery was required." . . . His degenerative condition merely made it more likely that accident trauma such as the fall would "tip the nerve system over the edge and bring about [nerve] entrapment".

John Miller, head of the firm which employs the lawyer who represented Mr Lyth, said the case was an important judgment because it highlighted ACC's liability when degeneration was present but not the whole or substantial cause of the personal injury.
"... ACC says, 'Degeneration, end of story'; we say, 'Not end of story."'
Jolly good show.  Now that this particular monopolistic rort has begun to degenerate, courtesy of the courts, let the housecleaning begin in earnest. 

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