Hip, hip hooray: victory over ACC


An Arrowtowner has won a long struggle with the giant Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) over her hip operation.

Diana Holden has been pitted against state-owned ACC for almost three years after falling while walking along the Arrow River in October 2012.

Her medical specialists said the resulting hip injury - requiring an operation at about $20,000 - was due to the accidental fall.

But those opinions were staunchly opposed by ACC’s orthopaedic expert, who claimed Holden’s hip problem was a “developmental condition” and hadn’t been triggered by her fall.

Holden says she was never examined by ACC’s specialist - “He hasn’t even seen me.”

ACC refused to fund the hip operation.

The Arrowtowner’s quick to praise health insurer Nib – formerly Tower - for fighting the good fight on her behalf.

“If it wasn’t for my medical insurers, I wouldn’t have been able to afford to do it,” Holden says.

“They felt they had a case to be put against ACC.

“It’s expensive and they don’t do it unless they feel they have a case worth taking,” she says, “and they did with mine - right from the outset.”

It wouldn’t be easy for people to take on ACC on their own, Holden says.

Her case went three rounds, with the final scrap in the Wellington High Court this February.

The judgment in Holden’s favour has just been released.

It records how Holden suffered “constant deep pain” for nine months until her July 2013 hip operation - the pain “immediately vanished”, the judge records.

According to her surgeon’s post-operative report, Holden had what’s called a tear of the labrum, confirming her specialists’ earlier opinions.

A medical source says the labrum acts like a rubber seal to hold the ball of the thigh-bone securely within the hip socket.

However, even at the court case, ACC’s expert continued to maintain “a direct causal link” between Holden’s accidental fall and the injury itself “has not been established”.

As the judge puts it, “this is another case where there is a sharp difference of opinion” about whether Holden’s hip condition resulted from an accident or was “a gradual process”.

Holden’s lawyer won the day, however, with the judge particularly noting the submission that “her hip was in a stable condition and did not require surgery prior to the injury”.

The Arrowtowner says the verdict future-proofs her.

“It means if I have any ongoing issues with the hip then ACC will cover it.”