Articles Posted in Disability Claim

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In Canada, we live in a free and democratic society. We are supposed to have access to the Courts when things go wrong in order to pursue justice and protect our rights and freedoms. When you’ve been wronged, and all else fails, you ought to be able to pursue your remedies before a Judge, in a Court of law.

This concept sounds great. But, the reality is, the idea of access to the Courts to protect our rights and freedoms simply does not exist (notwithstanding any delay in having your case heard, or lack of judicial resources; which is a topic for another day).

Want a few examples? Sure….

Innocent injured worker hurt badly on the job on account of the blatant negligence of their employer. Think you can sue? WRONG! Schedule 1 Employee vs. Schedule 1 employer can’t sue. That claim will likely be statute barred, and the injured worker will need to pursue matters through the WSIB. There are no large awards for pain and suffering (or large awards for that matter) at the WSIB. If you don’t like the result at the WSIB, you may apply for leave to appeal the result to the Court, but your case will NOT be heard by a jury of your peers, if it’s even heard at all.

Involved in a single car motor vehicle accident and your own car insurer is denying your accident benefit claims every step of the way? It would seem reasonable and only logical that the injured motorist can sue their own insurer for benefits denied. WRONG! Those sort of claims are now statute barred under the SABS and the Insurance Act. All disputes must go before the License Appeals Tribunal or LAT. The majority of those proceedings occur in writing, so the injured motorist doesn’t even get their “day in Court” so to say. If the injured motorist isn’t satisfied with the LAT’s decision, they can appeal to the Court, but again, their case won’t be heard by a jury of their peers.

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Last week’s Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog Post was entitled “Long Term Disability Claim Delay = No Pay (Ontario). If you didn’t check out that blog entry, you can do so here.

We got a lot of positive feedback from our readership which we have been permitted to share with you! We think these comments will provide some helpful insight in to the challenges which people face when making a claim for Long Term Disability Benefits. There is assurance knowing that “you’re not alone” when it comes to understanding how LTD claims work, how LTD policies work, how/why you’re getting denied; and how insurance works in general.

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Bills stack up. Particularly around the Holiday season. Unless you’re independently wealthy or have amassed considerable savings, you’re ability to pay off these bills comes through income generated from working (or very generous monetary gifts!). What could be worse than being unable to return to work on account of a disability; or losing your job because you can’t work.

Most LTD Policies pay a monthly benefit at rates of 80%, 70%, or 66% or your net pre-disability income. This leaves a significant shortfall; even if your LTD claim has been approved by the LTD insurer. If you’re lucky, you may have one of those few policies which pay out LTD benefits at a higher percentage. But, those policies are expensive and few and far between.

Many clients want to know how they can speed up the processing and response time of their LTD claim. How can they get approved faster; so that their debt burden is more manageable?

If our LTD lawyers knew the answer to these questions, we would share it with the world. Unfortunately, there is no science behind the speed at which your LTD claim will get approved or denied. A lot of it depends on the insurance adjuster on the other end; the nature of your disability; the culture of the insurance company you happen to be dealing with; along with the amount of medical records involved in your LTD claim. The fewer records which an insurer has to review, the less time it ought to take to deliver a decision on your claim.

But, we see a number of instances where the LTD insurer requests more and more records. One set is just never enough for them to make a decision; one way or another. Some see this approach as thorough; and the LTD insurer is just doing their job. Others see it as frustrating; and an effort by the insurer to latch on to a document to deny a meritorious claim.

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Our law firm gets a variety of calls from people who have had their Long Term Disability claims denied.

These people have A LOT of questions about how to best proceed with their Long Term Disability Claim after their claim has been denied. Some of the questions our lawyers hear are:

What do I do now that I’ve been denied?

How can I fight the insurance company? Can I do so on my own?

Do I need a lawyer?

How much will it cost to get lawyer?

How long will it take to get my LTD benefits re-instated or have my case settle?

Why is the insurance company being so hard on me?

Are they like this to everyone?

All of these questions are certainly valid; understandably so. This is probably your first time applying for LTD Benefits. And it’s also probably your first time getting denied as well.

Our lawyers would be pleased to answer all of these questions, if not more, via free phone consultation toll free at 1-877-730-1777 or via email at info@goldfingerlaw.com.

The topic we wish to address in today’s installment of the Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog is the questions whether or not to appeal your Long Term Disability Claim. Whether to appeal, or not to appeal is a tactical move that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

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Long Term Disability Insurance, and Critical Illness insurance are both “living policies“. They differ from a death benefit or life insurance policy in that the insured is still alive and the beneficiary; while alive; is able to recover the benefits.

In a “death policy” or “non living policy” only the designated living beneficiary, trust or corporation can recover the benefit. Somebody will need to have died in order to make a claim or recover benefits.

When making a claim for long term disability or critical illness benefits, it’s important to know what you’re getting in for.

Those application forms and questionnaires are very important. They are source documents for your case. They will go on to provide evidence upon which an insurer will use to potentially defeat your claim. These forms will also be scrutinized by a Judge or Jury with respect to how they were completed, what they say, and even when they where filled out.

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A lot of our practice is focused on litigating short term, and long term disability claims against large insurance companies such as Manulife, Great West Life, Sun Life, Industrial Alliance, RBC Insurance, La Capitale Insurance, Co-Operators Insurance, Equitable Life, Canada Life etc.

These claims arise when a policy holder, of disability claimant; makes a claim on their Long Term Disability Policy (LTD), but their claim gets denied by the insurer. When that happens, people call our law firm and we’re able to help them get the benefits and justice which they deserve.

The area of Long Term Disability Law can be very confusing. Unlike a car accident, slip and fall or dog bite claim where we are able to clearly identify the wrong doing or negligence, a Long Term Disability Claim is purely contractual. That means if you don’t have an LTD policy, then you can’t have an LTD claim. It’s that simple.

The parameters of the claim are set up by the wording of the policy. Because every LTD policy is unique, every claim is very different.

Here’s a quick example. Some LTD Policies provide for benefits at 65% of your gross monthly earnings. Other policies provide for benefits at 75% of your net monthly earnings. Some policies provide for LTD benefits up to the age of 65 years old. Other policies provide for LTD benefits for just 5 years. The definitions of disability in each policy is also different and can vary dramatically from policy to policy. Some policies contain onerous exclusions for disability if based on a soft tissue injury or psychological illness. Other policies don’t contain those sort of exclusions.

The level and amount of coverage all depends on the policy, and how good (or bad) it is for the claimant. The claimant didn’t draft the policy. They were drafted by insurers, for the benefit of insurers to limit their potential exposure.

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Our law firm handles a wide array of personal injury and disability claims. Many of our cases are against large, multi-national insurance companies who provide all types of insurance coverage. One of the most common sort of claims we see are Short Term, and Long Term Disability claims against such companies as SunLife, Manulife, Great West Life, Industrial Alliance, Canada Life, Co-Operators, RBC Insurance, Desjardins, SSQ etc.

One of the biggest eye openers for our clients is what happens when they take a look at the fine print contained in their respective long term disability policies. After all nobody other than a personal injury lawyer uses an LTD Policy as their night time reading material.

These LTD policies are written by insurers, to minimize the potential exposure of an insurer; while giving the appearance that you’re getting amazing coverage. For most group and individual policies, you get what you pay for. The cheaper the policy, the cheaper the coverage. But even the best, and most iron clad policies are riddled with loop holes which may minimize your potential claim.

The purpose of this week’s edition of the Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog Post is to examine your run of the mill LTD Policy, and examine those provisions therein designed to limit your claim.

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Over the past few months, we have seen a war play out in the media between Ontario doctors and the Ontario government. Doctors and the province have been operating without a proper contract in place for quite some time. Neither side can agree to terms. Ontario unilaterally cut doctor fees, along with certain billing codes. The result is that it has presented a cut to Ontario’s thousands of doctors. Doctors are fighting this in Court by way of Charter challenge. It’s pretty interesting to see the public relations battle play out in the media. Not to mention that Ontario doctors are actually launching a Charter challenge, which gets any lawyer excited.

Some doctors are chosing to scale back their hours (why work more for less), close clinics, or move out of unprofitable centres. This was discussed in yesterday’s Globe and Mail which examined how some doctors were closing clinics (methadone and radiology) on account of the cuts to the OHIP system and billings.

The purpose of this edition of the Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog is to examine the crucial role which family doctors play in the context of a personal injury or long term disability case. At the end of the day, the family doctor can be the MOST IMPORTANT person on an injured accident victim or disability claimant’s team.

The great thing about Canada, is seeing a medical doctor is FREE. This is in stark contrast to the United States, whereby, for the most part, every time you visit you doctor, you have to pay for the visit (not withstanding Obama Care).

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Our law firm litigates countless Long Term Disability (LTD) claims against large, multi-national insurers such as Great West Life, Sun Life, Manulife, Industrial Alliance, Desjardins, SSQ, Canada Life, Empire Life, RBC Insurance, Co-Operators, Equitable Life and the list goes on.

Litigating these claims can prove to be difficult for a variety of reasons.

It’s important for all claimants to understand that these claims are based on what the policy says. In our office, we refer to this concept as the four corners of the insurance policy.

There are certainly ways around these four corners, along with way at tackling damages for LTD claims which are outside of the scope of the police such as punitive, aggravated and damages for mental distress. But these topic will not be covered in this edition of the Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog Post.

For now, we are going to focus on damages under the LTD policy.

The policy will define what the monthly LTD benefit amount is; how long benefits will be paid for; when those benefits will begin to be paid; what medico/legal definition a Plaintiff must meet in order to be considered disabled under the policy; what injuries are and aren’t covered under the policy; and what exclusions would limit recover under the policy.

Plaintiffs/Claimants don’t write their policy. Insurance companies do. Accordingly; many provisions contained in long term disability policies aren’t there to protect claimants. Rather, they are there to protect the insurer’s interests so as to mitigate their damages and minimize any potential pay out.

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In Ontario, injured parties who are seeking for compensation generally have 2 years from the date of the accident, or the date of denial to sue. With the exception of minors and sexual assault claims, this is the general rule of thumb which it should not be taken lightly.

This two year period in which Plaintiffs have to sue is called a “Limitation Period“. And if you miss that limitation period to commence your claim, then you’re out of luck.

We have a specific Act in Ontario devoted specifically to limitation periods. It’s called the Limitations Act, 2002 and it sets out the time periods in which you can, and can’t commence a claim.

Determining when a limitation period begins to run in a car accident, or bike accident case is pretty easy. The time begins to run from the date of the accident itself. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist, or an elite personal injury lawyer to figure this out.

BUT: what happens when the triggering event from when time begins to run isn’t as clear as a car accident. What happens in cases not caused by torts or negligence on a identifiable date; such as in a long term disability case for benefits which have been wrongfully denied.

That’s when limitation periods can get tricky and when disability claimants and injured parties can get tricked. Keep reading so you don’t get tricked like countless others.
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