Woman sues over disability 'bias'

01:43, Jan 31 2009

A ground-breaking case with the potential to change the lives of thousands of New Zealanders with disabilities begins in the High Court today.

Melanie Trevethic says that if she were in a wheelchair because she had crashed her car while drunk, then under ACC she would be getting 80 per cent of her former income, all her medical costs would be met with no asset-testing, and ACC would have also paid for a modified vehicle to allow her to continue part-time work.

However, because it is the disease multiple sclerosis that put her in a wheelchair, the 50-year-old Cambridge woman gets none of that.

Ms Trevethic is suing the Crown over what she calls the "insane discrimination" between people who qualify for ACC because they were injured in an accident, and those incapacitated by illness.

She sued the Health Ministry under the Human Rights Act in 2003, claiming unsuccessfully that the funding system discriminated against her on the basis of what caused her condition.

The case in Wellington is set down for two days.

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The Dominion Post