Forcing an Insurance Company to Keep its Promise by Uncovering How an Undiagnosed Vision Problem Prevented Our Client from Working as a Commodities Trader

Insurance Company

Our client was a very successful open-outcry trader on the floor of the New York Mercantile Exchange for 20 years. The job required our client to constantly look down at trading sheets and then up at large trading board displays in rapid succession. Due to an undiagnosed eye problem, our client began to make simple, yet serious “freshman” errors in executing trades. Initially, the client attributed the errors to slower cognitive performance due to aging. Visits with neurologists and neuropsychologists revealed, however, that the client’s mental processing power was far above average. But due to continuing and expensive errors, the client decided that working as a commodities trader was no longer possible and ceded the spot in the trading pit to another trader.

The Challenge

Prior to hiring our firm, the client made a long-term disability claim with a major, national insurance company. Within weeks, the insurance company denied the claim. The insurance company stated that the client’s inability to work would have had to have arisen out of a “sickness” or “injury,” and since the client’s physicians had failed to identify either, the claim was not payable. 

 The Solution

The trader contacted Schwartz, Conroy & Hack, PC after the insurance company denied the claim. We reviewed our client’s work responsibilities and medical records and conducted a lengthy interview with the client to pin down the medical cause of the errors in the trading pit of the commodities exchange. It was during the course of that interview that one of our attorneys became suspicious that the client had some type of visual disturbance, even though an optometrist had recently found that the client had 20/20 corrected vision.

 Based on our experience with past “low vision” cases, we referred our client to a specialized neuro-ophthalmologist, who found that the client suffered from something called “accommodative dysfunction.” Accommodative dysfunction is a condition where the eyes are unable to shift their focus from one object to another without blurriness. The delay in our client’s ability to shift focus from near (reading trade sheets) to far (reading the trading board display) was minor for an average person, but for our client, whose livelihood depended on rapidly shifting from near to far vision, it was devastating.

 Thereafter, our attorney and a vocational specialist actually went to the floor of the commodities exchange, where the vocational specialist timed and calculated the number of times a commodities trader had to look down at his or her trade sheets and back up, again, at the trading board.

Armed with the above medical and vocational data, we sent the insurance company a detailed letter demonstrating how this condition prevented our client from performing as an open-outcry trader on the commodities exchange floor. 

 Employing its own, biased expert, the insurance company argued that our client could use a new trading “tablet” that would allow our client to read the trading sheets, see the trading board and execute trades without shifting focus.  

 In response, our firm obtained an actual working “tablet” and, through digital photography and digital graphing, demonstrated how a “tablet” was a wholly inadequate solution to our client’s inability to perform open-outcry trading.

 The Result

 After our persistent barrage of medical and vocational proof, coupled with legal arguments, the insurance company relented. Due to our efforts, the insurance company offered our client a very generous, lump-sum offer to “buy out” the claim. The client was more than satisfied with the result and accepted the insurance company’s buy-out proposal. Although the road was rocky and took time, we obtained a fantastic result for the client without the lengthy and unpredictable process of a lawsuit.

The depth of our experience and our tenacity uncovered what was causing our client’s disability and forced the insurance company to keep the promises it made to our client.

Don’t hesitate to contact us if you are or anticipate having difficulties with your insurance company.