As most people know, the wheels of justice move slowly. You might be surprised, however, how slowly they can sometimes go.
In the spring of 2004 – ten years ago – one of our clients injured his back and was forced to stop working and apply for long term disability benefits. His insurer denied his claim in January of 2005, and again in November of 2005. We filed a lawsuit on his behalf in early 2006.
His case finally concluded last month, in March of 2014. How did that happen?
Most cases like this one go to trial within a year of when they are filed. Unfortunately, due to delays at the federal district court level, we did not get a decision from the trial judge until January of 2009. Worse, the trial judge ruled against us. But we didn't give up.
We appealed this decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, where we were victorious. The Ninth Circuit ruled that the district court had made mistakes in the way it evaluated the evidence, and sent the case back for further proceedings. However, because of the backlog at the Ninth Circuit, we did not receive this decision until June of 2010.
Back at the district court, we submitted more briefing, and received a new ruling in April of 2012. Once again, incredibly, the district court ruled against us. And, once again, we appealed. We really had no choice because we knew we were in the right.
At the Ninth Circuit, we prevailed once again. The Ninth Circuit found that the district court had not applied its instructions properly, and ruled that our client was entitled to benefits. By this point it was February of 2014. The case settled shortly thereafter…more than eight years after it began.
Of course, this case was very unusual. Most cases are not appealed twice, and do not experience lengthy delays at the district court level. However, if you have a potential lawsuit for insurance benefits, be prepared to be in it for the long haul! Insurance companies have no incentive to accelerate these cases, and will try to take advantage of your impatience.
Obviously, having experienced and persistent attorneys can help. If you are having difficulty with an insurance company, contact us.
We understand, and we can help.