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Massachusetts Court Finds Emotional Distress not a Valid Claim Under ERISA

A Massachusetts court found emotional distress is not a valid claim under ERISA. Pamela Weddle had been receiving long-term disability benefits for years when Life Insurance Company of North America (LINA) terminated her benefits. ERISA limits an insured's ability to seek remedies other than benefits that were denied.

This law firm focuses on ERISA and disability insurance claims. Millions of dollars in disability benefits have been paid to our clients, who were wrongly denied by their disability insurance company.

More About the Case

Just before Weddle’s benefits were terminated, LINA had scheduled her for an independent medical examination (IME). Weddle asked LINA to reschedule the exam because she had conflicting medical appointments, just lost her husband, and her father was in hospice. LINA refused and terminated Weddle’s benefits for failure to show up to the IME. LINA next rejected Weddle’s disability appeal. Weddle then filed a lawsuit against LINA, alleging intentional infliction of emotional distress, and demanding a jury trial.

How ERISA Affects Your Claim for Disability Benefits

Many people who become unable to work suffer emotional distress when they are wrongly denied their long-term disability benefits. Unfortunately, if your disability case is governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, known as ERISA, you cannot sue the insurance company for pain and suffering caused by a denial of benefits.

ERISA is a federal law that governs most long-term disability insurance claims. The reason why it matters to you whether your case is governed by ERISA is because it is a very unusual area of the law.

Here are some reasons why:

  1. ERISA does not allow an individual to sue a disability insurance company for emotional distress;
  2. Typically, a court makes a decision in an ERISA case on the record up through the date of the final denial;
  3. Many ERISA cases, with some exceptions, require a court to rule in favor of the disability insurance company unless the individual can show the decision was completely unreasonable;
  4. The lack of remedies available to disabled individuals gives insurance companies incentives to deny valid disability insurance claims;
  5. You do not have a right to a jury trial in lawsuits for disability benefits when ERISA applies.

In short, ERISA is a complex area of the law and not a level playing field for a disabled people going up against a disability insurance company.

Having an Experienced Disability Attorney Matters

Disability insurance law is complicated. If your claim for long term disability benefits was denied or being delayed by an insurance company, it is important to get legal help from a lawyer who focuses on disability law.

As a law firm built to focus disability insurance, all our lawyers spend every day working to get our clients disability benefits from insurance companies.

Because federal law applies to most disability insurance claims, we do not have to be located in your state to help.

Dabdoub Law Firm represents clients nationwide with:

Call to speak with an experienced disability insurance attorney.