Does Your Lawyer Have ERISA Disability Litigation Experience?
My name is Brandon Osterbind and I’m an injury and disability attorney in Central Virginia. We help people whose long-term disability insurance claims have been denied by the insurance company. And the question that you should ask every attorney is, “Do you have long-term disability experience?”
Why you must ask that question
I’ll tell you why you need to ask that question. Because ERISA long-term disability cases are unlike any other cases I have seen as a practicing attorney.
For example, divorce cases, criminal defense or prosecution cases, personal injury cases, workers comp cases, they’re all different because you can present evidence and call witnesses and give the judge documents in a hearing, in a court of law. You have your day in court, so to speak.
ERISA cases are different
But in ERISA disability cases, you don’t have your day in court and you never get to go testify in front of a judge. What the statutory scheme creates is a system wherein the insurance company ultimately has the right to determine what is a fact and what is not a fact.
The goal in an ERISA disability appeal is to make sure that the insurance company has all of the information that it might need to fight in your favor when it is making the decision about whether to grant you benefits or not.
I know that that sounds weird because the person who you ultimately have to sue is now making the decision that will be reviewed on appeal, or in your case, and that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
Why your attorney really needs experience with these claims
And that’s why I say that your attorney really needs to have experience handling these long-term disability ERISA claims. Because if your lawyer doesn’t understand that, he or she might be thinking in the back of his or her mind, “I now have an opportunity to go and put on my case.”
How things work in most other cases
Because for example, in a personal injury case, when I, as the lawyer, send a demand to the insurance company and the insurance company responds by saying, “Your case isn’t worth that,” then I’ll turn around and I’d have to file a lawsuit. Well, in that lawsuit, I will later have an opportunity to present my case or to present the evidence in my client’s case.
How it works in ERISA cases
But in ERISA disability cases, it’s just not like that. You have to appeal the decision of the insurance company that said, “No long-term disability benefits.” And during that appeal, it is your job to make sure that they have enough information in their file that when a federal judge reviews it later, the judge can say, “Yes, they indeed have abused their discretion and I will reverse that decision.”
What you should do
Make sure that the attorney you hire to represent you in a long-term disability claim has plenty of experience handling these long-term disability claims.
And if you have any questions about how the system works or whether you should hire an attorney for your long-term disability claim, feel free to reach out to us. You can email us or call us. Either way, we’ll be happy to speak with you and happy to help.