At age 52, Dr. Denis Montrose had a thriving dental practice. He had noticed some mild tremors at age 50 and was diagnosed with mild Parkinson's Disease a few months later. Such a devastating diagnosis caused Dr. Montrose to worry about his future health and livelihood, but he considered himself lucky because he had purchased the best private disability policy available on the marketplace when his kids entered school twenty years before.
By the time Denis turned 52 he found that he just couldn't continue the heavy volume of his practice, and he started to plan for the day when he would have to stop working.
Denis knew what it was like to work with the symptoms of Parkinson's as he had been doing that for a couple of years. Shortly after his 52nd birthday, he found he just couldn't continue the daily physical demands of his dental practice.
Denis made a claim for long-term disability benefits from his disability insurer, under his private disability policy. The insurance company argued that Denis had worked with Parkinson's and they did not accept that his symptoms had worsened to the point that he was no longer capable of carrying on his dental practice. His own doctors were not absolutely clear about whether he could work with the level of his Parkinson's disease and due to the lack of their explicit statements of disability, the insurer felt they could comfortably deny his claim.
Denis soldiered on, attending his office and trying to provide administrative duties at the very least with some assistance from young dentists, so that his practice would not be totally lost, but his involvement with patients was diminishing, and his symptoms were worsening.
Help At Last
With declining income due to the increased expenses of continuing to operate his practice, Denis felt that everything he had worked so hard to establish was on the verge of being lost. Then he called Share Lawyers. When he learned that there would be no charge unless we were successful, he was happy to find someone who could help without putting him further into debt.
On Denis's behalf, we sued Empire Life 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. It was also necessary to involve experts in accounting to establish the impact of Denis's illness on his ability to sustain his income as a dentist.
After this extensive review, and following the completion of Examinations for Discovery, where both we and Empire Life'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 Denis attended at mediation, a lump-sum settlement was negotiated in his favour. The negotiated amount allowed him to plan an orderly departure from his practice and provided him with peace of mind for the future so that he could consider some alternative careers that met with his interests and more importantly would allow him to work at the pace that his symptoms would permit.
The lump sum settlement represented a compromise for Denis and for Empire Life , but it was a compromise for Denis that reflected his needs both for the benefits he deserved and for the desire to remove the insurance company from his life, which only added to his stress and diminished his quality of life.
*Names have been fictionalized to protect the privacy of our clients.