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Florida Appellate Court Finds Definition of Occupation is Relevant to Disability Insurance Breach of Contract Case

In 2004, a Florida appellate court found the definition of occupation is relevant to a disability insurance breach of contract case. In this case, the claimant, Bruce McPhee, was not actively working in his occupation at the time he claimed disability. However, his disability insurance policy did not require him to be actively employed at the time he became disabled. To receive benefits, Mr. McPhee needed only to establish that he was disabled from the occupation he was regularly engaged in.

Disabled CEO Files for Disability

Prior to filing for disability in 1998, Mr. McPhee worked as the CEO of a window shutter company. He was terminated from that employment in 1996. His contract with the company, however, stated he had guaranteed employment until 1999.

Mr.McPhee suffered from terrible pain in his neck and shoulders as the result of a car accident years prior. Even while working, his doctors advised him that he should not.

Following his termination, Mr. McPhee continued looking for work in the same field. Meanwhile, he continued to suffer from pain. In 1998, he had a spinal stimulator implanted, but it provided no relief. It was at that time he was forced to accept what his doctors had been saying and file for disability.

Policy Language Should Be Reasonably Interpreted

The appellate court found that, in order to determine whether he was disalbed under the policy, it was relevant for the jury to consider what his regular occupation was. The appellate court found that even though Mr. McPhee was not working at the time he became dislabled, his regularly engaged occupation was CEO.

Insurance Companies cannot rewrite the contract

This case presents an interesting issue we see in disability insurance law. Insurance companies try to rewrite policy language or interpret it differently than it was intended, to avoid paying benefits for valid claims. The policy governs in disability insurance claims. The terms of the policy dictate whether a person can receive benefits. But, the policy is what it is - an insurance company cannot rewrite it for its own benefit.

We have handled several cases where policy interpretation is at issue. We know what to look for in these types of cases. The experienced attorneys at Dabdoub Law Firm are prepared to fight for your benefits and know how to pursue them under the terms of your policy.

Disability Insurance Companies Have Lawyers. Shouldn’t You?

Because this law firm was created to focus on disability insurance, we have developed an expertise in this complex area of the law.

All our lawyers commit every day of their legal career to helping people get disability benefits from UNUM, MetLife, Prudential, Northwestern Mutual, Hartford, CIGNA, and others.

Because federal law applies to most disability insurance claims, we do not have to be located in your state to help. We help clients nationwide.

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