Malicious actions by insurer results in significant punitive damages.

April 16, 2013, Kitchener, Ontario

Posted by: Robert Deutschmann, Personal Injury Lawyer


A 46 year old Canadian red seal welder was working in a remote location overseas for a Saskatchewan based Canadian company. He dropped a steel plate on his foot and sustained serious injury which he looked after himself.  About 2 months later he again injured the same foot. He went home 2 days later and sought medical attention. He was home in Portugal for 2 months, then returned to work still injured and reported the accidents to the company doctor.

The company doctor referred the man to a surgeon in Portugal, and after consideration the man underwent the recommended surgery. The operation was not a success, and the surgeon concluded the man was permanently disabled, advising the insurance companies representing the WCB, and the company accordingly.

The insurers repeatedly stopped LTD benefits and requested the man return to Canada for examination by their specialists. He complied, returning twice in two years. All of the physicians confirmed the disability. The insurer then paid some back benefits but made no further ongoing payments. The insurers offered the man a tiny lump settlement minus legal costs, which he refused.

The man complied with all of the insurers' requests attending all specialists. None provided occupational rehabilitation options. When finally referred for vocational retraining he was advised that at his age and high education he was not well suited to their services. The insurer requested he retrain as a gardener which was and occupation inappropriate in terms of pay and physical demands. About three and a half years after the accident the insurer terminated his benefits again on the basis that the man would not accept retraining.

For 9 years the man’s claim was consistently blocked, bungled, and denied by the insurers even after court orders to the contrary. His marriage disintegrated due to his financial woes. He lived on borrowed money, often with family members. He was ashamed and became mentally distressed.  The insurer finally paid back benefits the day before the trial in 2012.

The Judge awarded aggravated damages for mental distress, ruled the insurers had breached the duty of good faith and fair dealing, and breached their policies. The judge characterized the insurer’s actions as malicious, designed to leverage a reduced settlement of claim. He awarded punitive damages against the insurers in the amounts of $3,000,000 and $1,500,000.

You can read the full decision here.





Posted under Personal Injury, Car Accidents, Disability Insurance, Treatment

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