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Ellen Sycamore - 45 Year Old, Female, Administrative Assistant

Ellen Sycamore Success Story | Share LawyersAt age 45, Ellen Sycamore loved her job as an Administrative Assistant in a large hi tech company. There was always a new, exciting project that her team was involved with as her company was on the frontier of developments in new wireless technology.

She was starting to be concerned though, because in the past few months she found that her vision was blurred from time to time, and she found that she was far more fatigued by the end of day. She complained to her family doctor who told her to try some relaxation techniques, and to avoid stressful situations. Even though Ellen tried to do that, she found that her symptoms were worsening.

Her doctor referred her to a neurologist who sent her for a number of tests, and a few months later he came back with a working diagnosis of mild multiple sclerosis although the testing was not definitive.The uncertainty of the diagnosis caused Ellen to worry about her future health and livelihood, but she considered herself lucky she was still able to work and knew that if she had a problem that her employer had a great benefit package with Co-operators that would protect her if she couldn't work.

By the time Ellen turned 48 she found that she just couldn't continue the heavy volume of her day to day responsibilities, and she was told by her doctor that she should try taking some time off work to see if that improved her symptoms.

Claim Denied

Her initial claim for short-term disability benefits was accepted and she received benefits for 119 days. She then made a claim for long-term disability benefits from her disability insurer under her group disability policy. They argued that Ellen had worked with her MS and they did not accept that her symptoms had worsened to the point that she was no longer capable of carrying on with her work and that the time off during the previous 119 days were sufficient to allow her to return to her full-time duties as an administrative assistant. Her own doctors were not absolutely clear about whether she could do any work with the level of her MS but they did feel that she was suffering from MS and that her symptoms were real. Ellen tried to return to work, but after 2 weeks of working part-time, she found that she just couldn't handle the fast-paced environment and requirements of her job.

Help At Last

It was then that she called Share Lawyers. When she learned that we would take the case on a contingency fee arrangement, no charge unless we were successful, she was happy to find someone who could help without putting her further into debt.

Early Mediation

On Ellen's behalf, we sued the insurance company for all benefits owing and for future benefits. In order to establish entitlement to benefits, extensive medical records and further assessments had to be carried out. After this extensive review, and following the completion of Examinations for Discovery, where both we and the insurance company's lawyers asked extensive questions, it was agreed that it was in everyone's interests to attend a mediation to see if a settlement could be worked out.

Payment and Validation

When Ellen attended at mediation, a lump-sum settlement was negotiated in her favour. The negotiated amount allowed her to have some peace of mind for the future so that she could consider some alternative careers that met with her interests and more importantly would allow her to work at the pace that her symptoms would permit.

*Names have been fictionalized to protect the privacy of our clients.