A.C.C. is making payments: manager

By Lumepa Hald 06 January 2022, 8:11PM

The Accident Compensation Corporation (A.C.C.) continues to make weekly payments to victims of accidents including victims of violent incidents during and after working hours.

The A.C.C. Compensation Manager, Tiulama Maugatai, told the Samoa Observer in an interview in December that under the law the corporation can pay up to 70 per cent of the legal amount that a person can receive as compensation following an accident.

He said this and gave two examples of weekly payments currently being processed by the corporation, following concerns by members of the public that the A.C.C. has not been paying victims.

As an example, the corporation’s manager made reference to the case of Frysna Rimoni, a woman who was shot in the face in January 2019 by her partner, and was an employee of the Pacific Forum Line at the time of her shooting.

Ms Rimoni, who was the Pacific Forum Line’s Finance and Administration Manager, had to be flown to New Zealand in early 2019 for life-saving medical attention and is now permanently blind and lives in N.Z.

Tiulama said she currently receives $1,000 tala per week from the A.C.C. to compensate for her permanent injuries and the corporation gets regular updates on her condition.

The $1,000 that the A.C.C. pays on a weekly basis to Ms Rimoni for her treatment is the maximum amount that the corporation can pay, as it is 70 per cent of the legally-allowed amount that a person can receive as compensation for accidents.

The law also requires that the A.C.C pay these amounts to the injured for a maximum period of five years according to Tiulama, as after five years another clause in the law under “permanent injury” kicks in so another calculation has to be done to determine the amount to be paid for that category.

In relation to Ms Rimoni’s case, Tiulama said it happened after hours, but an amendment was made by the Parliament to the Accident Compensation Corporation Act in 2003 which now ensures a worker is covered for accidents on a 24-hour basis.

The defendant in Ms Rimoni’s case, Peter Tulaga, was jailed for 28 years after the Supreme Court found him guilty of attempted murder in July 2019.

Another example that Tiulama used was the case of the former Unit Trust of Samoa (U.T.O.S.) Chief Executive Officer, Sa’u Justina Sa’u, who died October 2018.

Her husband Kolani Junior Lam was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Tiulama said the Ministry had to wait for the judgement on the case in order to make a decision on the payments that would be made by the corporation. 

“Right now the A.C.C. is paying her dependents, four children and her mother $1,000 tala per week,” said the corporation’s manager. 

“The maximum amount for compensation was decided on because she was also a high paying worker in the system.”

As Sa’u’s case is one of her own death, Tiulama also said that a further $16,000 tala was paid to her dependents as a “death lump sum” compensation. The maximum compensation one can get from the A.C.C. for death is $20,000 tala, but the A.C.C had discovered Sa’u was not the sole provider for her family, as the grandmother of her children had also looked after her children without the need for assistance. 

And while Sa’u’s mother will receive her portion of the compensation, her children’s share will only be released to them when each of them turns 18. Currently the funds are being held in trust by the corporation.

By Lumepa Hald 06 January 2022, 8:11PM

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