Trying a Long-Term Disability Case: The Big Gamble?

Having participated in a number of long-term disability trials over the years, I can tell you that the trial process is an exhilarating experience—for an attorney—but is a very daunting and painful process for you, the claimant.

It is extraordinarily expensive, time-consuming, and high-risk. A long-term disability trial is an all-or-nothing proposition. In most cases, you either win and get all your back-benefits and benefits paid into the future, or you lose and get nothing.

If you lose and the insurance company has a claim against you, it may get the benefits it paid you back from you. In addition, if you have not kept your policy in force by paying your premiums and you lose at trial, your policy will no longer be in force—so you will lose that asset and will be unable to make a future claim.

So going to trial in a long-term disability case is a dangerous proposition, but sometimes necessary. If your case must be tried, it is critical for the insurance companies to know that your lawyers have the skill, readiness and willingness to try your case; if they believe you are afraid of a trial, they will use that to their advantage to pay you a lot less money—assuming they offer to pay you anything.

In most cases, you will want a jury to decide your case. You do not want to try the case to a judge, because juries typically do not like insurance companies. They are likely to be more sympathetic to you as a claimant, understanding that you paid premiums for a very long time and are now getting the shaft.

Keep in mind that going to court does not necessarily mean going to trial. When you go to court, that means you started a lawsuit and you are going through the pretrial litigation process. Often, it is necessary to go through the pretrial litigation process, which involves court, but not necessarily go to trial, if your case can be settled. Trial is at the very end of your case, but an enormous amount of activity during a lawsuit happens before that, starting with the commencement of the lawsuit up to the time of the trial.

You, the claimant, are going to be the most important witness at a trial in a long-term disability case. If the jury believes you and likes you, you’re most likely to win. If they don’t, you’ll most likely lose. The vast majority of these cases rise and fall on you, because the case is about your occupation, your sickness, your injury, your conduct, and your credibility. This adds to the risk and the pressure involved in trying one of these cases.

Finally, it’s very important to have lawyers who are experienced in trying these cases because that shapes everything that the lawyer will do, up until the trial, to put you in the best position to either win at trial or get a favorable settlement.

If you have any questions about your long-term disability claim or lawsuit, please contact Schwartz, Conroy & Hack today at 212-608-5445 for a free consultation.


Evan S. Schwartz
Founder of Schwartz, Conroy & Hack