42 year-old Maria D’Urso has been self-employed for more than fifteen years as a freelance graphic designer. Maria worked with not-for-profits to help create and execute marketing promotions, and she loved her job. Since she worked from home and only had contracted work, Maria decided to purchase her own private disability insurance policy through a broker to cover any issues she might have due to illness or injury. Aside from some previous sports-related injuries, Maria has never had a serious medical issue.
Maria had been paying premiums for the last ten years, and thought she was fully covered. As it was entirely precautionary, Maria assumed that the level of coverage she had was enough to protect her in the event that she couldn’t work.
When Maria and her husband found out that they were expecting a baby, they were overjoyed to hear the news. They had been trying for a baby for several years, and were very excited to start their family. As she and her husband were both healthy, the doctor assured them that their baby would be fine. Initially Maria had decided to take six months off from work, confident that this would be enough time to allow her to rest after giving birth, and then allowing her to go back to her freelance work while still taking care of the baby at home.
However, once Maria had her daughter, complications arose. Only a few months after the baby was born, Maria found herself suffering from mood swings, as well as periods of sadness, irritability, low motivation, and difficulty sleeping. She found that she was not able to enjoy the time with her daughter, and became scared that she might hurt her daughter in some way. Maria’s fears began isolating her from both her husband and her daughter.
Maria, worried about her condition, went to see a doctor, and was diagnosed with postpartum depression. She began treatment for her symptoms, but was worried about the medication she was taking. However, Maria felt like she was on the right path to enjoy the rest of the time with her daughter. She was still not back to work yet, but was confident that the medication would have her back at work in a month or two.
Unfortunately, Maria’s daughter was not interacting with her or her husband the way babies normally do. She was not playing games, mimicking expressions or gestures, and even engaging with toys, songs, or games that Maria showed her. She would barely laugh, smile, or even make eye contact. Concerned, Maria took her to the doctor, and they felt she should be monitored for a potential autism diagnosis.
After hearing this news, Maria felt her depression come back again. She had no motivation to go back to work, had trouble sleeping, and found that she had no appetite, so she was very weak. After talking with her husband, Maria decided to put in a claim for disability
benefits with her private policy provider.
The insurance company denied Maria’s claim based on the fact that she was self-employed, insisting that because she worked from home, her situation had not drastically changed from when she applied to for the policy. They stated that if she was well enough to take
care of her daughter, she should be well enough to work from home.
Frustrated with her insurer, worried about both her daughter’s condition and her own, and overwhelmed with the expenses of raising a new baby, Maria thought all hope was lost. She said as much to her sister when they were out for coffee, and her sister mentioned getting in contact with Share Lawyers. Maria was doubtful, saying that she had no way to afford a lawyer to look over her claim. Maria’s sister told her that there were no fees unless they recovered money for her, and encouraged her to go to a consultation. The Share Lawyers team immediately got to work on Maria’s case, assembling all the proper documentation.
At mediation a settlement was reached, allowing Maria to focus on her family, without worrying about work. In the meantime, Maria knows that she will get back to work in the future, but wants to focus on healing and making sure her daughter and husband are as healthy and happy as possible.
*Names have been fictionalized to protect the privacy of our clients.