When an ERISA-governed benefit claim – and subsequent internal appeal – has been denied by the insurance company, a denial claimant may then have the option to file a lawsuit. The question often arises: “How long do I have to file my lawsuit?” The answer is not always that simple. Best advice: do not hesitate.
- Different time limits for different claims in the same lawsuit
Lawsuits filed over denied disability insurance benefits will often include several claims for relief, i.e. breach of contract, bad faith breach of insurance contract, and other statutory violations. These various claims for relief often have different statutory limitations provisions that apply. Some are two years, some may be three, while others are longer or even as short as one year. Of course, these statute of limitations change from one state to another. Each case and claim needs to be analyzed separately.
- Different time limits can apply to ERISA claims
There is likely a contractual limitations provision described in the insurance policy (or employer plan). There may also be a separate statute of limitations. If your claim is governed by ERISA, you might be surprised to learn there is no actual limitations provision existing under that law. The most similar state law typically applies in most circumstances. This is usually the state’s limitations period for actions based on a contractual dispute. Here, it’s also important to note that, when the limitations provide for different time frames, the shorter limitation will apply.
- Assume the clock starts running with the initial denial
Long term disability policies are not always clear on when the clock starts to run. This is especially true if the claim is a termination of previously approved benefits versus an outright denial. The policy or plan limitations language found in many LTD policies only address denials and not situations where a claim many have been approved and paid for years, and was later terminated. It can be difficult to determine how long a claimant has to file a lawsuit. In these situations, seeking clarification (or an agreement) with the insurance company may be necessary.
- The clock is running during the internal appeal stage
A claimant should assume the clock is always running, and can even expire, while the required internal appeal process is taking place. Do not assume the limitations period is extended while the appeal is pending.
The Bottom Line on Filing Deadlines for Disability Insurance and ERISA Lawsuits
- It can be incredibly complicated to determine just how soon a case has to be filed.
- Waiting too long and filing after the limitation periods have expired can (and probably will) lead to a dismissal, preventing a person from obtaining the ERISA benefits to which they may be entitled.
- It’s always in policyholders’ best interests to contact a lawyer ASAP after a claim has been denied to as to protect the rights and entitlements to benefits.
You Can Trust a Denver ERISA Disability Lawyer at McDermott Law, LLC
If you’re battling with an insurer over a disability benefits claim, you can turn to Denver ERISA LTD Disability Lawyer Shawn E. McDermott for experienced, effective help obtaining the benefits you likely deserve.
To learn more about how the McDermott Law, LLC attorneys can help you, set up a complimentary consult with him by calling us at (303) 964-1800 or by emailing our firm via the contact form on this screen.
From our offices in Denver, we provide exceptional legal service and representation to disabled people throughout the state of Colorado, the surrounding states and nationwide.