Paul was a Share Lawyers client who struggled with opioid addiction for a number of years. It’s estimated that roughly 6 million people in Canada suffer from chronic pain, a condition that is often treated with prescription opioids.
About 6 years ago, Paul had an accident on the job. He and his father had started a construction company. One day, as their work day was winding down, Paul slipped. He was working on the roof, and fell two stories. He broke both of his legs and ruptured his achilles tendon.
Because Paul and his father were essentially self-employed, Paul was not covered by WSIB. They had, however, purchased a private insurance policy - just to be safe. Paul spent months in rehabilitation therapy, working on getting back on his feet, in every sense.
During this time, Paul applied for longterm disability and was accepted. He took the time he needed to work on his recovery, but just couldn’t stay inactive; he desperately wanted to work. So, within a few months, Paul was back on the job. His injuries had healed, and he was prescribed Demerol to help with his chronic pain.
But the pain never seemed to go away. In fact, it was both constant and unbearable. There were days he could barely manage to get his shoes on. Though he was taking the prescribed amount of medication, nothing seemed to dull the pain. After a couple of years, as a result of the chronic pain, he became dependent on the Demerol.
Paul started having a harder time in his day-to-day life and was becoming more dependant on the pills. He grew more withdrawn from his father and became isolated from the rest of the family. He started making appointments with doctors to try and get multiple prescriptions, and found himself lying about how much pain he was really in to get a higher dose.
Eventually, he was burning through his month’s prescription in a matter of days. In an act of desperation, Paul started searching for opioids on the street, finding substitutes wherever he could - including Fentanyl - and even turning to hard alcohol for relief. At this point, he would do anything to ease the pain.
After a while, everything fell apart. When his family realized how far Paul’s addiction had gotten, they asked him to get help in a rehab facility. The only local facility the family could afford, however, had a long waiting list. Paul stopped working and applied for long-term disability again - only this time, he was denied. Paul’s private insurance contract stated that disability based on addiction would only be paid out if the person was currently in a treatment program. Paul and his family were stuck.
Paul’s father had contacted Share Lawyers years ago after Paul’s work accident, just in case the disability claim was denied. When Paul was denied, his father again phoned our offices asking for help. We reviewed all of Paul’s medical information and the reasons that the insurance company had denied the benefits. We determined that Paul had a good case and we told him there would be no fees unless we won the case.
It was a difficult fight, but we were able to get Paul a settlement, and are happy to report that he successfully weaned off both the opioids and alcohol he was taking to self-medicate and is now managing his chronic pain under the supervision of a team of healthcare professionals.
*All names and identifying details have been changed to protect the confidentiality of all involved.