LETTER OF PROTECTION
It is possible that if you’re injured in an accident a letter of protection (LOP) could be vital to your case. The LOP is a tool that allows the injured person to get the medical care they need during the time period it takes for the personal injury lawyer to get the case resolved. When a client is represented by an attorney, the attorney may issue an LOP to a doctor or medical provider, asking the doctor to hold their bill for collection, and promising to pay the doctor out of the proceeds of a personal injury case.
A letter of protection is a contract that places a lien on your injury settlement that requires that the medical provider be paid from any settlement the attorney achieves on your behalf. An LOP is typically obtained through a process in which the medical provider contacts the lawyer requesting a letter of protection. The LOP must be sent by an attorney. It is likely that if you don’t have an attorney, the medical provider will not accept a letter of protection from you personally, because there is no new contract created. You already owe for the bill, so a letter of protection from the patient is meaningless. Whether a billing agent will accept a letter of protection from your lawyer, is at the discretion of the medical provider. Some providers such as hospitals, and doctors performing surgery, may not accept a letter of protection.
It is important to note that the LOP does not make the lawyer responsible for the bill, it remains a contract between the patient and the doctor. Furthermore, the letter of protection is not a guarantee that the doctor will be paid. Instead, it is a guarantee that the medical provider will be paid in the event that there is a settlement or verdict. If there is no settlement or verdict, the attorney is not responsible to the provider for your medical bills. Unfortunately, you are solely responsible for the medical and other treatment expenses if there is no settlement or verdict. Because of this, it is important that you choose your attorney wisely.
WHY DO I NEED A LETTER OF PROTECTION FROM AN ATTORNEY?
A common situation in which letters of protection are necessary includes automobile accidents in which the medical bills exceed the $10,000.00 in PIP benefits, and for which there is no health insurance or other source of payment. Additionally, in motorcycle accidents or premises liability cases, where there is no personal injury protection (PIP) insurance, the injured client would have little chance to receive care for his or her injuries without a letter of protection.
Another common situation arises because PIP auto insurance in Florida only pays 80% of accident-related medical bills, leaving 20% of your medical bills outstanding. Without a letter of protection your medical provider may require upfront payments or refuse to provide treatment without assurance that he will be paid. For many injured persons, a letter of protection may mean the difference between getting treatment for their injuries or not getting treatment.
Under a letter of protection, no money changes hands, no interest is charged, and the medical bills are not paid until the case is settled. Once the case is settled, the lawyer is obligated to honor the letter of protection and pay the medical providers in accordance with the agreed-upon letter of protection.
If you have been in an auto accident, the best thing you can do is seek the help of an experienced attorney. At Kovar Law Group we are well-versed in dealing with these issues and are proficient in gathering the required evidence to secure the best outcome possible. Schedule a free consultation with Kovar Law Group today.