Jan 20

Major Punitive Damage Award


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A Guest Post by Noah Kadish J.D., Disability Benefits Lawyer

Plaintiff Wins $4.5 Million Punitive Damages Award

A Saskatchewan Queen’s Bench decision, Branco v. American Home Insurance Company (read it here at http://canlii.ca/t/fwsfm), released on March 21, 2013, is set to impact the way Insurers operate throughout Canada with regards to the treatment of Long Term Disability claims.

The Plaintiff, a Canadian citizen, was employed with a Saskatchewan company working at a mine site in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan. While there, the Plaintiff dropped a steel plate on his foot, which became so swollen that he feared that he may have chopped off his toes. Despite this injury, the apparently very motivated worker completed his 12 hour shift, washed the blood from his foot and then used snow to dull the pain. Later, suffering another injury to the same foot, he underwent an unsuccessful surgery, and was finally declared permanently disabled.

The Court found that although the insured had been declared permanently disabled, the insurers failed to honour their contractual policy commitments. As a result, $4.5 Million in punitive damages were awarded to the Plaintiff.

The importance of this decision cannot be understated. A person that is so severely injured that they are unable to work is reliant on their insurance coverage. An unjustified denial of coverage can have devastating consequences for someone in this position. Insurance policies are meant to provide a level of security that would otherwise be unavailable. For that reason, when an insurer chooses not to abide by their duty to operate with the utmost good faith, it is left to the Courts to set a precedent that deters similar practice in the future.

A Guest Post by Noah Kadish J.D., Disability Benefits Lawyer