First, let me say that this post is not about the hundreds of good ERISA disability attorneys who go the extra mile to represent insureds, and are successful. Hats off to them; thank goodness they are still taking on new clients. BUT….
This article is about attorneys out there, who because they do personal injury law, believe they are God’s gift to private disability. I can’t believe my ears sometimes when I listen to what insureds tell me their attorneys advised them to do.
I have a short list of experienced, successful disability lawyers that I refer insureds to, also because their fees are reasonable. One attorney I knew in New York wanted to charge an ERISA insured $10,000 upfront to help with an appeal. Most attorneys are still looking for 1/3 of recovered past benefits and 1/3 of future benefits to age 65 or lifetime.
What I object most to is disinformation. Attorneys in general have no idea what goes on inside an insurance company and often give advice that leads their clients down the path of denial. I don’t know whether this is intentional or not, but it seems obvious that some attorneys might say to their clients, “just do the field visit” and wait for the claim to be denied because that’s where their money is. It’s possible probably more than we think.
Just the other day I heard that a very prominent attorney told a client to just accept the denial and not file an appeal. While this might happen in rare cases, all denied claims are worth an appeal. In this situation, I suspect the attorney got all the money she could from the insured and knew in advance an appeal might not be successful, hence no more money. The client was dropped like a hot potato.
As I said, I object to disinformation, which comes from a variety of different attorney sources. A lot of it comes from family attorneys who take it upon themselves to give opinions of what should be done even though they’ve never handled a disability case in their life. Insureds fall victim to uncle Fred’s opinions even though he’s a Patent Attorney.
Because of what I do as a Consultant, I hear all of the horror stories of disinformation communicated by attorneys. It’s a shame that so many insureds are milked for so much money only to be told, drop the case and don’t go to trial.
Most of my regular readers probably know I’m not a fan of attorneys anyway. At the beginning of my career, I worked for attorneys as an Expert Witness and was thrown under the bus so many times I finally gave it up. Although I did 85 depositions/cases I eventually realized that there’s the Plaintiff, then there’s the Defense, and the Expert Witness’ butt is always hanging out in the breeze. So, yeah, I’m not a fan of attorneys to begin with (except those I respect and have worked with), and wonder how many insureds are also thrown under the bus after the money runs out.
Be careful of those you choose to listen to even if they are an attorney. An attorney’s license is not necessarily a rubber stamp of honesty and integrity. Do your research and ask questions about success rates. Make sure you hire an attorney whose experiences merit the fees.