One day, our client was working on an aircraft in Wilmington, Delaware when he began experiencing a dizzy spell and nearly fell off the aircraft. For nearly 3 years, he had been unknowingly battling vasovagal syncope, and this near-death experience caused him to seek treatment and reevaluate his life and career.
Our client reluctantly ceased working as an aircraft mechanic because he realized continuing his occupation put him at risk. He sought treatment from specialists in the United States and abroad. When he received his diagnosis of vasovagal syncope – a medical condition in which the body overreacts to certain triggers – he applied for short-term disability (STD) benefits. Still needing to avoid triggers that lead to fainting due to sudden drops in heart rate and blood pressure, our client applied to extend his STD benefits into long-term disability (LTD) benefits.
CIGNA LINA acknowledged our client’s disability and granted STD benefits, but reversed course when he applied for LTD benefits. Puzzled, our client contacted Dabdoub Law Firm for help.
How Vasovagal Syncope Prevents Our Client from Doing His Job
Before starting his job as an aircraft mechanic, our client proudly served in the U.S. Air Force. In 2017, our client suffered a fall and head injury at work. This traumatic brain injury likely led to our client’s neurological damage, which ultimately forced him to stop working in December 2020.
Vasovagal syncope occurs when you faint because your body overreacts to certain triggers. The triggers, which may include stress, heat exposure, or the sight of blood, cause your heart rate and blood pressure to drop suddenly and lead to fainting.
Our client’s occupation required him to perform maintenance on C-130 aircraft. As part of his physically demanding job, he had to work on platforms 10 to 20 feet in the air and avoid dangerous areas like engine intakes and propellers. At any point during his workday, our client could encounter a trigger and fall 15 feet to the ground or directly into a propeller.
For this reason, he was forced to quit working. The stakes were literally life or death. CIGNA LINA acknowledged this fact when our client applied for STD benefits but seemed to forget it when he asked for LTD benefits. Due to the large amount of medical evidence in our client’s case, CIGNA’s denial was wrong and unreasonable.
Multiple Experts Agree on Our Client’s Diagnosis
When he made the difficult decision to stop working, our client consulted specialists in the United States and abroad. His doctors are all in agreement that his symptomology fits with the diagnosis of vasovagal syncope. According to his medical records, our doctor suffers from dizzy spells when he alters positions, such as going from sitting to standing and vice versa. His medical condition causes poor balance, and he has to hold on to something to keep from fainting or falling over. As such, he now walks with a cane.
In his symptom diary, our client notes that his condition is getting worse. He experiences severe dizziness and unsteadiness with any physical activity.
Our client’s primary care physician has instructed him to avoid “lifting, pulling, pushing, bending, stooping, twisting, climbing, kneeling, squatting, overhead work, work with power equipment or higher than 3 feet.” This list of restrictions may as well be our client’s job description. Working as an aircraft mechanic requires a constant changing of body positions and an ability to work on high platforms, tasks that our client can no longer perform safely.
Additionally, our client’s cardiologist instructed him to avoid triggers, which in our client’s case, means avoiding physical activity, including working. Encountering triggers puts our client at risk of serious injury. As his cardiologist writes:
“[Due] to the illnesses mentioned above, he is suffering from the symptoms of vertigo, which will make him unable to get engaged with any kind of employment.”
Our client cannot even walk safely without a cane. For CIGNA LINA to insist he can return to working on aircraft is, frankly, absurd.
CIGNA LINA’s Convenient and Self-Serving Denial of Benefits
If anyone meets the definition of disability under their insurance policy, it is our client. By ignoring the nuances surrounding his claim for disability benefits, CIGNA LINA abandoned its fiduciary duties toward our client – in direct violation of ERISA law.
With this violation, our client had every right to sue CIGNA LINA in federal court. To avoid litigation, however, Dabdoub Law Firm gave the insurance company another chance to take a good-faith look at our client’s case.
Upon appeal, CIGNA LINA did not turn a blind eye and saw clearly that our client was entitled to LTD benefits. Instead of going to court, the insurance company reversed its decision and approved his appeal, granting him LTD benefits. Dabdoub Law Firm was happy to help.
Disability Insurance Companies Have Lawyers. Shouldn’t You?
Because our law firm was created to focus on disability insurance, we have developed expertise in this complex area of the law.
Our expertise in long-term disability claims means our clients have the backing of a law firm with attorneys who have:
- expertise in disability claims.
- fought all major disability insurance companies and know their tactics.
- a track record of success.
- won major disability lawsuits that have improved the law for claimants like you.
- recovered millions of dollars in disability benefits.
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.
Federal law applies to most disability insurance claims, so we do not have to be located in your state to help. We help clients nationwide.
Call to get experienced disability lawyers on your side with:
- Submitting a disability insurance claim,
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