Podiatrist with median nerve injury files lawsuit and obtains lump-sum buyout of disability policy
Author: Attorney Cesar Gavidia
Dr. C, a podiatrist / podiatric surgeon, was successfully practicing in Texas prior to the injury which caused his disability. During a routine blood draw, the phlebotomist taking Dr. C’s blood sample mistakenly injected the needle too deep into Dr. C’s right arm. Dr. C immediately felt shooting and burning pain radiating down his right arm and into his hand. In the weeks that followed, Dr. C experienced severe burning and tingling in his right arm. Dr. C consulted with a colleague in the hospital, a hand specialist, who explained that it was likely that the phlebotomist had injured his median nerve during the blood draw. The hand specialist advised Dr. C that if his symptoms did not resolve within a few weeks to come back and see him.
The pain, numbness, tingling and paresthesia which Dr. C was experiencing in his right hand did not resolve and although he had continued working as best he could, his symptoms began affecting his ability to perform his core procedures as a podiatrist / podiatric surgeon. In the hopes that his symptoms would resolve with time, Dr. C decided to take a leave of absence and initiate a claim with his long-term disability insurance carrier.
After submitting his long-term disability claim, Dr. C’s disability insurance company began their investigation. The disability carrier took him through the usual steps of requesting Dr. C’s medical records, tax returns, personal and business financial records, CPT codes and a volume of other relevant and non-relevant items. The disability insurance company even sent Dr. C to an independent medical examination (IME) with a neurologist, which the insurance company selected to examine Dr. C’s hand. The insurance company’s hired doctor determined that, given the requirements of Dr. C’s occupation as a podiatrist, Dr. C would be limited from performing his occupational duties, including his ability to perform fine motor tasks such as handling surgical instruments that would require prolonged use of his right hand. Shortly following the IME, the disability carrier began paying Dr. C’s disability benefits.
The disability carrier paid Dr. C’s disability benefits for almost two years before they decided to send Dr. C to a second IME with an orthopedic hand surgeon. After a brief examination the second IME opined that although Dr. C likely sustained an injury to his median nerve his complaints were only subjective and therefore they should not restrict him from performing his duties as a podiatrist. After receiving the opinion from the second IME the disability insurance carrier terminated Dr. C’s claim for disability benefits.
After receiving his denial letter, Dr. C retained Attorneys Dell & Schaefer to represent him. Dr. C’s attorneys, Gregory Dell and Cesar Gavidia promptly filed suit for breach of contract against the disability insurance company in state court. Shortly after participating in extensive discovery and subpoenaing volumes of documentation from the disability insurance company, which included every document which the disability insurance company produced in connection with Dr. C’s claim for benefits, including the insurance company’s underwriting and application file, the insurance company settled with Dr. C. for a lump-sum buyout of his disability insurance policy.