Before explaining how you might benefit from successful ERISA disability litigation, it will help to explain a bit about what this law means. ERISA stands for the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. This 1974 law established standards for corporate health and pension plans. Most of these regulations according to an Orinda ERISA attorney are meant to protect the people who have these company benefits.
Successful ERISA Disability Litigation Benefits
The rules may also change the outcome of ERISA disability litigation when compared to suing private insurers. Their are some grey areas that might only be answered in each case. In general, you may only collect lump-sum payments for your policy benefits, clarification of rights given to you by the plan, and in some cases, attorney’s fees.
This means that you are NOT allowed to sue for:
* Pain and suffering
* Emotional distress
* Bad faith
* Punitive damages
Note that you might be allowed to make these extra claims if you are suing for benefits with an individual disability policy.
Other Claims in an ERISA Disability Lawsuit
Some other questions that end to arise in these kinds of lawsuits include:
* Which benefits you can recover
* Are court awards offset by other benefits
* Interest on past-due benefits
For instance, some courts allow you to recover all due benefits up to the judgement. Others limit benefits to those that should have been paid up to the date that the claim was denied by your insurance company.
In some cases, your award can be reduced by any other benefits that you might be entitled to. For instance, workman’s compensation or social security benefits might reduce the amount that the insurance company must pay you.
Typically, courts will award you interest on any benefits that you have been denied. The interest rate will be set by the court. In general, courts will award higher interest rates if they find that the insurance company’s conduct was particularly unfair. It will be up to your disability lawyer to make the case that you deserve a higher interest rate.
How Are Future Benefits Handled?
Since the future benefits that you are entitled to is still not entirely certain, courts may not award lump-sum payments. They may ask the insurer to simply clarify what benefits you will receive for the term of the policy or the length of time that you remain disabled. In some cases, insurers will agree to settle with a lump-sum award that includes calculated future benefits.
What Usually Happens With ERISA Disability Cases?
Most of these cases get settled before they ever go to course. Insurance companies usually prefer to settle when they aren’t sure that they can win the case. The advantage for you is that you can get your cash payment faster.