New Zealanders may very well be personally liable to top-up ACC compensation if they are convicted of any criminal offence that causes bodily injury to another person, says the Insurance Council of New Zealand.
The new law means the Courts can impose a higher reparation for someone injured in a motoring offence.
From December 6, as a result of the Sentencing Amendment Act 2014, if you’re convicted of an offence causing injury, the Courts could increase the amount of reparations to pay.
“Many New Zealanders will be blissfully unaware that from last Saturday if, for example, they commit a motoring offence or a breach of health and safety legislation that causes personal injury to someone else they could be forced to pay reparations over and above ACC compensation limits,” says Insurance Council chief executive Tim Grafton.
ACC currently limits loss of income payments to 80 per cent of their income and no more than $1818 a week.
“This means that if you caused the injury to someone, the Courts could require higher payments to be made by the guilty party,” says Tim.
“This creates a double standard in treatment where those suffering an injury as a result of a motoring offence, for example, have the potential to gain greater compensation than those suffering the same injury when no offence was involved or no-one was prosecuted.”
Exposure to higher reparations orders can extend to many other areas, such as health and safety breaches in the workplace, breaching the Dog Control Act or many other instances where an offence results in bodily injury.
“It also opens up compensation to overseas visitors. So, you wouldn’t want to cause a crash that badly injures a tour coach of well-heeled foreign tourists for example,” adds Tim.
“Insurance companies will be closely monitoring developments and some may consider changes to policies to cover the exposures from this Act.”