It can be devastating to be denied disability benefits that you have received through your employer and that you desperately need. Maybe you have decided to hire an attorney and bring a claim against your insurance company for ERISA violations. ERISA suits can be more complex than many other types of civil lawsuits, and there are a few big decisions that you’ll have to make with your attorney before you can bring your claim in court.
What can I ask for?
Under ERISA law, you have few options when suing your long term disability insurance carrier. The most obvious choice would be to demand the benefits that the insurer denied you. In ERISA, the court can only award your long term disability benefits up to the date of its decision, not into the future, so that amount is limited to what should have been paid by the insurance carrier, but wasn’t.
You can demand interest on the benefits, but may not receive it. If the court grants interest be paid, it will determine the amount of interest by considering date that the benefits were denied, and calculating interest accrued since then.
In addition, to interest you can request that the insurance company cover the attorneys fees and costs.
Under ERISA, there are no punitive or emotional distress type damages.
Settle or continue fighting?
Once your suit has been filed, you may be ordered to court sponsored mediation, or agree upon private mediation. This decision is important, because you could get a much different result by fighting your case through to judgment than you can by settling, with different pros and cons accompanying each choice.
Luckily, you don’t have to make this decision on your own. Your attorney will lay out for you the advantages and disadvantages of litigating or settling in your specific case. That way, you can make an informed decision, and pursue the course of action that is most likely to get you the result that will best take care of your needs.
In general, settling an ERISA case will allow you to receive payment more quickly. This might be the ideal choice if you are desperate for money. However, if you can afford to delay your receipt of your disability related income – and if the facts of your case make it likely that you’ll win a lawsuit – then it might be worthwhile to litigate to judgment. If you win, you may get much more from a successful lawsuit than you can from a settlement, even if the litigation takes years. Keeping in mind that the court would only be able to order the insurer to grant or reinstate disability benefits through the date of judgment and then your claim would be remanded to the insurer for ongoing benefit handling.
An ERISA lawsuit can be a long, frustrating process, and there is no guarantee that you will be successful. At ERISA Law Center we make sure to give you the facts and strength of your case, in order for you to make the best decision for you and your family.