Earthquake rescuer with PTSD wins landmark payout

A Christchurch builder who helped rescue people trapped in the 2011 earthquake has won a landmark court case against ACC.

Bill Toomey suffered post-traumatic stress disorder after helping free people from the collapsed PGC building, and when he approached ACC for help they said no.

A builder by trade, Mr Toomey rescued survivors by drilling through the collapsed concrete floors of the office building.

"It was chaotic, it was a mess. I can only relate it to 9/11" Mr Toomey remembered.

He was traumatised by the experience, and was admitted to hospital unable to walk.

Being unable to work, he lost income. 

ACC refused compensation, stating that unpaid volunteers aren't covered under its interpretation of the legislation.

Louise Newman, Mr Toomey's lawyer was outraged, stating "he was never the less using his specialist skills as a builder to assist and help rescue people in that building".

A judge in the Auckland District Court agreed and ordered ACC to pay out.

ACC is reviewing the decision and has 21 days to decide if it will appeal the decision.