ATTORNEY FEES IN ERISA DISABILITY INSURANCE CASES: WHAT WILL IT COST?
Years ago when our firm was in need of the services in a business transaction, we met in an office with a professional, and he outlined everything that needed to be done. He was thorough, and the process seemed like it would take a considerable amount of time. At the end, I asked him what the entire project would likely cost. Since he was going to be compensated on an hourly basis and was not sure of the actual amount of time required, he replied, ‘They are professional services. No one wants to pay for them. But, we will be fair.’
Implicit in his words was the acknowledgment that for most people, professional services are an unbudgeted expense. Naturally, that worries people. This is especially true for persons who are experiencing a legal problem with their disability insurer. At the same time, they are addressing a health issue, they are now required to seek out legal services.
After two decades of law practice, we have come to understand the costs inherent in pursuing an ERISA disability case. Although litigation can always lead to unexpected detours, the costs of an ERISA disability case can oftentimes be estimated. Typically, a rough estimate of legal services from the filing of the claim to the completion of a case can be provided to a client.
From there, three different financing options are available to clients. First, legal fees may be paid hourly and invoiced on a regular basis explaining the work that has occurred to advance the case. Second, legal fees can be “contingent.” This means that rather than paying an hourly fee, a percentage of the benefit may be paid to compensate for the legal work performed. A contingent fee has the advantage of protecting a claimant against further losses since a fee is only charged if the case is won or settled. Third, a fee may be financed over time with various options available to the client. Each case is different. Each need is different. Customized fee arrangements are available to address the individual needs of each client.