If a victim of negligence doesn't have insurance, how are their medical bills paid while the insurance company contorts itself (and often established medical science) to avoid paying for the damages they rightly owe? Often, those bills are covered by what is known as a Letter of Protection (LOP).
A Letter of Protection simply states that the letter-issuing law firm has agreed to protect a medical provider's outstanding balance for treatment provided to the injured party and that upon resolution of the client/patient's personal injury case, that bill will be satisfied when the personal injury case finalizes. In return, the medical provider agrees to cease all collection efforts until the case is finalized.
Why Would I Need a Letter of Protection?
In the current political climate, one of the issues which has been most widely discussed and debated in Congress (and the media) has been Healthcare. The creation of the Affordable Care Act under the Obama administration, in large part, was meant to decrease, or (in a perfect world) eliminate, the number of uninsured individuals residing in the United States. While the number of uninsured individuals in this country has shrunk since the inception of the Affordable Care Act, it has not disappeared, and occasionally the quality of the plans available in the open markets is debatable. Suffice it to say, not everyone has excellent healthcare readily available to them.
When someone with a high-quality health insurance plan gets involved in a motor vehicle crash or suffers a fall due to the negligence of another, that person can get the treatment they need by using their health insurance and Personal Injury Protection (PIP). They won't have to stress over the thought of owing medical bills out of pocket. However, someone without quality health insurance might find themselves afraid to obtain the care that they need for fear that they will end up owing the bills personally if something goes wrong with the case.
Letters of Protection are for exactly this situation.
As stated above, they protect the patient from being sent to collections while the case is ongoing, and (more importantly) they allow the patient to receive necessary care that they otherwise would be unable to receive.
A Letter of Protection After a Work Injury
When you suffer an injury at work, your health insurance and your employer's workers' compensation insurance might argue about who really pays your medical bills. When this occurs, our lawyers will write a Letter of Protection to help you obtain the medical care needed even when insurers cannot agree on who is liable. These letters let healthcare providers know that they will receive compensation when the settlement or judgment arrives.
A Letter of Protection After a Car Accident
Car accidents are one of the main reasons we write Letters of Protection. When you suffer an injury in a car accident, you may head to the emergency room that same day. A few weeks later, you will get a bill in the mail asking you to pay the balance. How is this possible when you have health insurance? In many cases, insurers will argue over paying the bills. This is common after a car accident when they believe another party is to blame. We can help you get the treatment you need and keep creditors off your back by writing a Letter of Protection on your behalf. This letter will let the doctors and hospitals know that they will receive payment for the services rendered after your claim or lawsuit reaches a conclusion.
Is a Letter of Protection Legally Binding?
A Letter of Protection is a legally binding contract that exists between your personal injury attorney, you, and your healthcare provider. The letter promises that you will pay the medical expenses after your injury claim reaches its settlement. You will pay the amount from your settlement or your award once your case ends. If you do not win your case, you promise to still make those payments and repay the debt.
How Do I Write a Letter of Protection?
A Letter of Protection is a legally binding contract. As such, we do not recommend writing a LOP yourself. These letters are best handled by an experienced injury attorney at our office. We can ensure that your letter is sent to the appropriate medical institutions or providers and that you receive the treatment you need.
Can a Letter of Protection Be Used Against Me?
If Letters of Protection allow injured individuals to receive necessary care for injuries which result from the negligence of others when they otherwise would not be able to receive said care, what is the problem?
The problem lies in perception. Or rather, it lies in the perception that insurance companies attempt to create about Letters of Protection, the attorneys that provide them, and the doctors that accept them.
Insurers may try and use LOPs against you. They may claim that the medical professional is biased because of this LOP. However, our lawyers won't let insurers pull this tactic.
Why Doctors Are Wary of Letters of Protection
When a doctor accepts a Letter of Protection, they are taking a risk. The risk is that they won't be paid anything for their work. Meanwhile, when a doctor bills health insurance, payment is guaranteed (or at least, it is supposed to be; that is an issue for another time) at a previously agreed upon rate. However, due to the volatile nature of personal injury cases, the extended period of time the medical provider will go without receiving payment, and the fact that in many cases there is not a recovery large enough to pay all of a patient's medical bills on cases which involve Letters of Protection, doctors will often receive payments that greatly exceed insurance and Medicare rates in cases where the patient is fairly compensated for their injuries.
Defense attorneys and insurance companies will often treat the existence of a Letter of Protection as unassailable proof that the doctor's opinion about the reasonableness and necessity of the rendered medical treatment is tainted and biased. Oftentimes, entire personal injury trials turn into an inquisition of the doctors' motivations for providing care.
Ultimately, Letters of Protection allow injured individuals to receive necessary care they otherwise would be unable to undergo. Insurance companies fight them because they fight everything; it's how they increase their profits. Often, their entire attack is simply based on the idea that doctors make too much money. But it is important to remember, they provide a very important benefit for those in need.
What Happens if I Don't Win My Injury Case?
If you do not win your car accident lawsuit, you are still responsible for the medical bills. The medical provider will pursue them and you must pay this debt like any other debt. For this reason alone it is important that you retain experienced lawyers who can fight for you. An experienced personal injury attorney can provide you with the legal skills and insight essential to making sure you are able to seek compensation for accident injuries. Being able to provide a letter of protection just scratches the surface of what a personal injury attorney can do for those taking legal action over accident injuries.
At Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, our accident attorneys will fight aggressively for your rights and help you obtain the compensation you need to pay your medical expenses, lost wages, and more. Our firm has years of experience serving the people of Florida by providing award-winning legal representation. Our many satisfied clients have had the benefit of our legal assistance in the form of thorough investigation of their accident, expert legal insight, skilled settlement negotiation, management of the myriad of legal forms and paperwork, as well as fighting for you in court.
Contact a PIP Attorney with Your Questions Today
If you were injured in a car accident or slip/trip and fall and have questions about the nature of your rights, contact the Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, a premier national personal injury law firm. We can advise you as to what steps you need to take after an accident under your state's law.
Please feel free to contact us with any questions. You can reach us in one of these 3 ways:
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