Am I Entitled To Attorneys Fees At The Expense Of The Disability Carrier If They Paid Benefits After A Lawsuit Is Filed?
If you purchased your disability policy through your employer, your policy is covered under the ERISA law. The disability carrier has the discretion to pay your benefits and, many times, will improperly deny legitimate disability claims. Sometimes filing a lawsuit is what it takes to get your benefits granted.
What about Attorneys Fees?
In ERISA cases, a court may, in its discretion, award attorneys fees if the parties achieve “some degree of success on the merits.”
Is the Mere Filing of a Lawsuit After a Plaintiff Files an ERISA-governed Disability Benefit Claim Sufficient to win an Award of Attorneys Fees?
It depends on where you live In the case of Koloff v. MetLife Ins. Co., 2014 WL 3420990 (E. D. Cal. July 14, 2014), Koloff asked for disability benefits and filed a law suit. The court dismissed the case because Koloff had failed to exhaust administrative remedies by allowing the carrier, MetLife, to make a decision. The court held in Koloff that a claimant doesn’t satisfy the requirement of “some degree of success on the merits” by achieving a “trivial success on the merits” or a “purely procedural victory.”
How About the Argument that the Law Suit was the Catalyst for Payment?
There is some case law support for what’s called “catalyst theory” for seeking attorney fees. The facts have to demonstrate that the law suit was a catalyst or linked to the decision to approve benefits. That will require discovery on the part of your attorney. The filing of the law suit is the key to getting you your benefits.
How will I Learn More About my Rights to Disability Benefits?
You can contact Long Term Disability attorney Nancy Cavey, who can help you get the disability benefits you deserve, regardless of where you live in the United States. Call today at 727-894-3188 for more information.