Judge Denies SeaBright Insurance Push to Shirk Responsibility for Unlawful Processing of Worker’s Comp Claim

An Arizona court has denied SeaBright Insurance Company’s (“SeaBright”s) motions for summary judgment after the carrier was sued for bad faith during the handling of our client’s worker’s compensation claim. The first motion argued there was insufficient evidence to find the insurance provider acted in bad faith. In their second motion, SeaBright claimed our client failed to provide proper evidence pertaining to medical damages, lost earning capacity, and lost credit reputation.  These efforts to avoid legal accountability were denied.

On November 11, 2011, our client, a hardworking well-driller for Yellow Jacket Drilling Services, was in the process of turning a 24-inch pipe wrench, when his back popped, triggering significant spinal pain. Light duty was prescribed after it was impossible for him to return to normal activities. Our client later visited a private physician whose x-rays revealed possible disk injuries.

SeaBright responded by forcing our client to visit Independent Medical Examiners (IME’s) who consistently denied the need for surgery and prescribed common pain medications after considering it a typical back strain. But SeaBright knew it had breached its duty of good faith and fair dealing to this client. Discovery admissions have confirmed that SeaBright failed to conduct a reasonable investigation and failed to provide any reasonable basis for their denial. SeaBright also engaged in pre-textual denials in which they claimed that the injury was pre-existing due to a lack of medical records – – yet they never attempted to obtain the appropriate medical records.

Due to these denials, our client was forced to hire an attorney and request a hearing with the Industrial Commission of Arizona. Yet before the hearing, SeaBright’s selected physician confirmed that our client did in fact sustain an compensable, on-the-job injury. The examiner then recommended injections, surgery, and continued leave from work. Only after this did SeaBright decide to accept the claim for the surgery and other payment benefits.

Nevertheless, SeaBright continued to delay payment by attempting to negotiate a full settlement. Though coverage was admitted October 24th, 2012, benefits did not begin for another several months. The carrier then belatedly authorized a surgery that never should have been delayed in the first place.

In regards to the portion of the lawsuit discussing outstanding damages, our client provided evidence that SeaBright’s bad faith actions caused mental anguish, credit damage, lost earning capacity, and physical impairment. This was corroborated by expert testimony and financial documentation.  Here too, SeaBright’s efforts to avoid accountability were denied.

Our Arizona bad faith workers compensation insurance litigation team will continue to advocate on behalf on this client and ensure his grievances are heard and will make every effort to right this insurance wrong.