Vaimoana Tapaleao is the New Zealand Herald's Pacific Affairs and People reporter.

Christmas accidents result in $7.2 million bill and thousands injured

Just over 3,700 people made injury claims to ACC for injuries that happened on Christmas Day alone, in 2016. Photo /Getty Images
Just over 3,700 people made injury claims to ACC for injuries that happened on Christmas Day alone, in 2016. Photo /Getty Images

The festive season proved not so merry for thousands of Kiwis who hurt themselves over the holidays, with ACC paying out just over $7 million in injury claims to date.

A total of $7,218,966 in claims were accepted by the Accident Compensation Corporation for accidents that happened on just six dangerous days over the recent holiday period - Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day, New Year's Eve, New Year's Day and January 2.

And although that figure is already sizeable, it is expected to balloon in the next 12 months as some Kiwis receive continued support for injury rehabilitation and treatment.

Figures released to the Herald on Sunday show 25,403 people made claims for injuries they had suffered on those days, with the highest number of injuries reported on January 2 (4826 claims) and the first day of 2017, when 4602 people were hurt.

The top causes of injuries included loss of balance, tripping or stumbling, being pushed or pulled, being knocked over by an object or being struck by an animal.

The injuries that were diagnosed most often were soft tissue injuries (strain, sprain or contusion), lacerations, punctures, stings, fractures or dislocations - and dental injuries.

Injury by a "foreign body'' poking an eye or another part of the body also made the list.

ACC couldn't provide more detailed descriptions of the injuries or exactly how they occurred.

Asked how many accidents involved alcohol, ACC spokeswoman Suzanne Muth said because the organisation was a no-fault scheme, people were not required to say whether alcohol contributed to an accident.

But ACC estimates 11-13 per cent of all claims are alcohol-related.

Last year's figures over the holiday period - but including the cost of ongoing treatment - - show a total of 26,135 claims with a cost of more than $23 million.

The single highest claim cost was on New Year's Day, when 4949 claims were accepted, resulting in a payout of just over $5.3m.

"The majority of clients will only need medical costs. However, some will require ongoing care, as they recover, on a case by case basis.''

Muth did not say whether ACC would target the festive season in any new safety awareness campaigns as a result of the high holiday costs.

But ACC did have a few injury prevention tips to keep Kiwis safe.

They included fastening loose rugs to the floor, wiping spills as soon as they happen, running power cords along walls, putting toys away and clearing up clutter from walkways.

And when it comes to holiday DIY projects, ACC encouraged people to always use a safe and stable ladder when carrying out work, making sure you know how to correctly use hired equipment and being realistic about your ability - if you can't do it, get an expert.

Top 10 injury causes 2016-2017:

1. Loss of balance or personal control
2. Lifting, carrying or strain
3. Struck by person or animal
4. Collision or knocked over by an object
5. Tripping or stumbling
6. Twisting movement
7. Slipping or skidding on foot
8. Puncture
9. Other or unclear cause
10. Pushed or pulled

- NZ Herald

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