Lawyer Needed For Disability Claim

Insureds in Grand Prairie, Arlington, Weatherford, Fort Worth, Mansfield, Dallas, and other places in Texas, who have some form of disability insurance will too often, have to seek the assistance of an experienced Insurance Law Attorney when they make a claim. This is because insurance companies that issue disability policies are reluctant to pay these types of claims.
A case decided in 1978 serves as a good example. This is a Beaumont Court of Appeals case. The style of the case is, Lone Star Life Insurance Company v. Joseph B. Griffin. Here is some background.
Griffin testified that as he was returning to his home from his farm, he passed by his drugstore. As was his custom, he entered the store to see if everything was normal (having been burglarized several times in the past). He smelled smoke which he found to be coming from the rear of his building. He testified that he emptied his fire extinguisher but his efforts were futile; that he was trying to get out of the building when an aerosol can exploded in his face; that he lost consciousness while upon the floor of the store near a door, and regained consciousness later in a hospital.
A Dr. Popejoy testified as to his treatment of Griffin beginning at about two in the morning following the fire. He told of finding external burns on several parts of Griffin’s body but the most serious injury was to his lungs from the inhalation of smoke and fumes. Griffin was hospitalized for several weeks and testified that he was unable to do any work for several months thereafter.
Dr. Popejoy testified positively and unequivocally that Griffin’s injuries were caused by the inhalation of the smoke and fumes which resulted in his total and permanent disability. A Dr. Anderson examined Griffin for Lone Star. His examination was more than two years after the accident and he found Griffin to be only partially disabled, at the worst. Anderson attributed Griffin’s condition to his constant smoking of cigarettes which he admitted to have been addicted to for approximately fifty years. Anderson testified that Griffin could do all of the work of a pharmacist but could not do any sustained heavy lifting.
The policy of insurance provided that Lone Star would pay plaintiff $1,000 per month for sixty months for an accidental injury resulting in total disability and that it would pay $1,000 per month for twenty four months for total disability resulting from sickness. Lone Star paid several monthly payments of $1,000, noting on each check that the payment was for accidental injuries. Without any change in its medical information in its file and for some undisclosed reason the checks were coded to indicate that the disability was the result of sickness, not an accident. The twenty-fourth payment was coded to indicate a sickness disability payment and a letter was written. The check indicated it was the last payment.
Griffin hired a lawyer and filed a lawsuit.
A jury awarded Griffin $34,518.40, plus twelve percent penalty, $4,142.21, plus $9,900 in attorney fees. Pursuant to the Texas Business and Commerce Code, Section 17.50, each of such awards was trebled so that the total judgment against Lone Star was in the sum of $132,181.83, with interest at nine percent per annum. (this section does not allow a trebling of attorney fees or a trebling of the interest amount)
On appeal this appeals court reversed the trebling of damages.

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