Many valid long term disability claims are wrongfully denied by insurance companies. This requires insureds to hire lawyers to represent them in Court. When hiring a life, health, or disability insurance lawyer, there are multiple important criteria to look for. These include experience, expertise, and a personal comfort level with the lawyer you hire. However, there is one additional criterion that is absolutely essential – trial experience.
Many insureds overlook a lawyer’s trial experience. Some don’t even know it’s an important factor. If the lawyer you are considering hiring doesn’t try cases on a regular basis, you are probably looking at the wrong lawyer!
You may think, “I don’t want my case to go to trial. I want the case settled. I want to move on with my life. I’m too tired from fighting my insurance company. I need to focus on my health.” That’s fine. In fact, the vast majority of all litigation settles before trial. If most cases didn’t settle, the court system would completely fall apart. There simply are not enough resources to try all the cases. Rather, over 95% of cases settle before trial. However, if the insurance company knows you don’t want to go to trial, or your lawyer is unwilling to go to trial, your settlement will never maximize its fair value.
If you think about it, the reason for this is obvious. Insurance companies settle cases because of their fear of what will happen at trial. They also keep score. This means they know which lawyers have the skill and resolve to take a case the distance. If they are convinced the lawyer won’t ever try the case, the company will still offer a settlement, but will not pay the most amount of money to resolve the case.
As an example, consider a 55-year-old pharmacist with a very bad back who simply can’t stand on her feet all day or sit at her computer. She’s clearly disabled. Nevertheless, her long term disability insurance company denies the claim. The pharmacist finds a lawyer and the case ends up in court.
Let’s assume that the factors of this particular case makes a “fair” settlement somewhere between $100 and $200 (obviously a real case is worth much more). If the long term disability insurance company is seriously concerned about what might happen at trial, including the cost of trying the case, it might pay close to the higher end of the range. On the other hand, if the lawyer’s track record is to settle all cases before trial, the long term disability insurance company might offer something in the lower end of the range, and dare the lawyer to go to trial, knowing it will never happen.
Both are “fair” offers. But clearly one is better than the other. Moreover, the client will never know their choice of attorney might have resulted in the lower of the two offers. After all, both are “fair.”
In summary, if your life, health, or disability insurance claim was wrongfully denied, make sure you hire an attorney who regularly wins cases at trial. Even if your goal is to settle, avoid mistakenly hiring a lawyer who doesn’t try cases. That attorney will not scare the insurance company, and may not get you the best settlement possible. Before you hire any lawyer, don’t be afraid to ask for a list of the cases they have tried and won! If the answer is, “well, I haven’t tried any because I am so good I get great settlements in all my cases,” you probably are not hiring the right lawyers.
With over 160 years of combined experience, and dozens and dozens of trial judgments in our clients’ favor, at Kantor & Kantor we know when the long term disability insurance company is offering the best result possible under the circumstances. If that doesn’t happen, we have the will and resources to see the case through to the end.
Blog written by Glenn R. Kantor, Founding Partner of Kantor & Kantor, LLP