Gradual process

17 Jun 2017 - 20:01 | Version 4 |

Contributed by Morgan Speight and current to 1 March 2017

An accident cannot be a gradual process. Gradual process injuries are conditions that develop over time. Typically an accident is described as having a 'degree of suddenness' about it.

Gradual process injuries are sometimes referred to as injuries that are caused by natural 'wear and tear' of the body, or injuries that develop because of a repeated process. Gradually developing conditions as the result of aging also fall into this category of injuries.

Do you have a gradual process injury?

The test is whether the injury was caused 'wholly or substantially' by a gradual process. If the injury was entirely caused by a gradual process, then it will be classified as a gradual process injury.

When is an injury 'substantially' caused by a gradual process?

There is no exact definition of what it means for an injury to be caused 'substantially' by a gradual process, as to what extent the injury was caused by a gradual process will differ between injuries.

The Courts have been reluctant to put a percentage on the definition, but generally if gradual process can be said to be 80% responsible for the injury (or more) then the injury will be a gradual process injury and will generally not be covered by ACC. In some situations, a gradual process may only need to have been responsible for 70% of the injury. It is important to note that whether something is determined to be a gradual process injury is done on a case by case basis, and every decision will be based around the individual circumstances of the injury.

A gradual process injury will be covered if it develops because of your job, or as a result of a medical treatment. This means that if your gradual process injury develops because of the kind of work that you do then ACC will be able to offer you the same entitlements that you would be eligible for had the injury been an accident.

Gradual process injuries that develop as a result of treatment

If your injury developed because of a treatment that you underwent for a covered injury, ACC will likely cover your gradual process injury. It will not cover a gradual degeneration that is a natural consequence of the aging process, or the wear and tear that can be expected over time.

It will be helpful in this area to obtain a medical opinion that the treatment that you have had is the reason that you have developed a gradual injury.

If you disagree with ACC's decision

If you disagree with a decision that your injury was substantially caused by a gradual process injury, rather than an accident, you should seek medical advice from another doctor and consider reviewing the decision.

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