J became pregnant following a failed sterilisation. ACC granted J cover for her pregnancy and compensation for the pregnancy's physical effects. J also claimed compensation for loss of earnings on the basis that she had to stay home and care for her child, which ACC declined. The High Court upheld ACC's decision.
J's pregnancy constituted a personal injury, and it was the effects of the pregnancy that attracted cover under the Accident Compensation Act. The Court found that as personal injury is the basis for entitlement under the Act, "there can be no entitlement where a personal injury is no longer affecting a claimant". Accordingly, once J's pregnancy ended, she was no longer entitled to compensation.
In addition, the ACC scheme does not compensate "all consequences that follow from the covered injury". The Court considered the history of the ACC legislation, and found that the need to care for a child in circumstances of this nature is not a consequence of personal injury which the scheme was designed to compensate.
Further, after the birth J's inability to work was not because of her pregnancy. In assessing whether J was "unable" to work because of her personal injury (the pregnancy), the Court found that:
"Once a mother has recovered physically from her pregnancy and giving birth to her child, she will not be 'unable' to work because of her pregnancy… [Her] inability to work is almost certainly not going to be because of the… effects of the pregnancy but… [because of] factors such as childcare arrangements, the unavailability of the other parent and parenting choices."
The Court noted that any extension to cover under the ACC scheme is a matter for Parliament rather than the courts.