Even more than wages, employee benefits are a lifeline for many people. Health insurance, life insurance, and pensions can provide critical benefits that allow people to continue to support themselves during difficult times.
Unfortunately, many deserving claimants are denied benefits unfairly and need an attorney to pursue their rights. At Bartolic Law, we meet with clients all the time who hired a lawyer to handle their employee benefit dispute only to be disappointed by the lawyer’s lack of skill and knowledge. Read on for more information to determine whether you hired the wrong attorney to handle your claim.
ERISA stands for the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, which was passed in 1974. The act sets minimum standards for most pension and health plans for private employers and provides protections, such as:
ERISA also creates a right for plan participants to sue for benefits unfairly denied as well as for violations of the fiduciary responsibilities.
ERISA is an enormously complicated body of law, and attorneys who do not focus on it probably do not understand all the intricacies. For example, someone who handled your divorce or DUI case might be great at family or criminal law, but he or she probably should not be handling your employee benefit dispute.
There are all kinds of ERISA attorneys. Some only advise corporations about their pension plans, whereas others represent employees seeking benefits denied them. Although both might know ERISA law, chances are the lawyer who only advises corporate clients is not up-to-date on the procedures for filing a claim and bringing an appeal for denied benefits. For this reason, you should always check with an attorney whether he or she has handled an employee benefits issue just like yours.
Lawyers owe their clients an ethical duty to keep them informed. After all, the client is in charge of the representation, meaning you make critical decisions about filing a lawsuit and whether you want to settle. A lawyer who is impossible to get ahold of is probably making decisions without your input, which is a violation of the rules of professional responsibility. If you never hear from your lawyer despite repeated calls and emails, then you should consider letting him or her go and hiring someone else.
Michael Bartolic is a seasoned Chicago ERISA attorney who has been representing employees in benefits disputes for over a decade. If you have a question about a denial of employee benefits, you need the right ERISA lawyer in your corner. Please contact Bartolic Law right away by calling or submitting an online message.