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Expert Evidence

An opinion from an expert about an issue in your case.

It often helps to get an independent neutral expert with recognised qualifications, skills, and experience to express a competent opinion on the issues in your case. We know that access to medical evidence is a barrier to access to justice so we've been working with The Know Co. to do something about this.

The expert evidence barrier

There are well-known and acknowledged barriers related to expert evidence, including difficulties in people obtaining and presenting the expert medical evidence that is crucial to resolving most ACC disputes. This puts many injured people at a comparative disadvantage.

In practical terms, nearly all claimants face barriers to accessing expert evidence before they can use the dispute resolution process. This continues once people lodge review applications. The most certainty that can be agreed upon with ACC (or determined by a reviewer) is that further evidence is required. In these cases the client and ACC need to work together to agree on an assessor, the questions to be answered, and how this will be funded. There can also be issues around the independence of the assessor. This means that even if the assessor is correct, people can perceive them to lack independence because they are funded by ACC.

The Expert Evidence Pilot

During the second quarter of 2024, our Advocacy Service will be working with The Know Co. Ltd to pilot and an expert evidence process. The reason we are doing this is to understand:

  • whether independent expert evidence helps ACC and claimants achieve sustainable resolution, for example, is it substantially helpful in achieving resolution of the dispute, and

  • does the timing of this expert evidence process impact on achieving this sustainable resolution, for example, is the evidence best obtained in the course of the advocacy process following an early neutral evaluation, or is the best done after a consensus-based meeting as part of a resolution agreement.

This service will work closely with the early neutral evaluation service. Once the evaluation has determined that medical evidence is likely to be helpful, questions will be drafted for the assessment and a referral to the medical assessor will be made.

It will begin with specific types of disputes and it will then expand to include all dispute types which might benefit from expert opinion. You can discuss with your advocate whether your case is eligible to be involved with this pilot and whether this is a service you would like to use.

This service will be provided by The Know Company Limited (The Know Co.) and aims to provide this evaluation once the relevant files have been provided

There will be a cost to participating in this trial, but you can talk to your advocate about this. Our Advocacy Service may be able to fund this cost and then seek reimbursement of this cost as a disbursement from ACC through the Review Costs and Appeals Regulations.

The medical assessment will be provided to you, ACC, and the conciliator. It will be provided in the context of the confidential conciliation process. Use of any medical opinion beyond the conciliation will be a matter for discussion and agreement.

A pilot of this service is available now for eligible clients from our Advocacy Service to use (if they meet the criteria for inclusion). The trial will be evaluated. If successful, the service will be expanded from mid-2024.