What is a letter of protection? A letter of protection is a document sent by you and your personal injury lawyer to a healthcare provider. The letter guarantees that all of your medical bills will be paid once your personal injury case has been settled. In this article, we’ll look more closely at how a letter of protection (LOP) works in a personal injury case, and how you and your attorney can best work together to determine if an LOP is right for your situation. If you have further question, please get in touch with Prince Law Firm to see how we may be able to help you.
How Does a Letter of Protection (LOP) Work?
You may have heard the legal term “letter of protection” (also referred to as an LOP) but are still wondering: what does a letter of protection do? This is a term that is sometimes used in a personal injury case, when an injured party (the plaintiff) is taking legal action against the party they claim caused the injury (the defendant). There are some situations in which the injured person is unable to pay for their medical bills upfront—before their personal injury case has reached an outcome. Individuals who decide to use a letter of protection are most often plaintiffs in the following types of personal injury cases:
- Car accidents, motorcycle accidents, or accidents involving commercial trucks
- Bus accidents and other mass transit accidents
- Slip and fall accidents
- Workplace accidents
If a person is injured in one of these types of accidents, their medical bills will likely be substantial. Most people are not prepared to immediately deal with the high costs of medical care following an unexpected injury. If this is the case, the plaintiff might need to use a letter of protection, promising the doctor or hospital that the medical bills will be paid in full once the legal case has settled and compensation has been awarded. This prevents the plaintiff from needing to pay the medical bills out of pocket, and makes sure that the party responsible for the accident is held financially accountable.
A letter of protection is like a contract, a legally-binding document guaranteeing that the healthcare provider will be paid at the conclusion of the personal injury case. When an LOP is used, the plaintiff and their lawyer make a promise that the settlement received from the personal injury case will be used to pay back the doctor or hospital providing care. In some cases, an LOP provides great benefit to injured people who might not otherwise be able to afford the medical care they need.
How to Request a Letter of Protection
If you and your personal injury attorney decide that a letter of protection is the best choice for your situation, you can request that your lawyer prepare the document to be sent to your healthcare provider. The letter will include information such as your (as the plaintiff’s) name, injuries, nature of the accident, and medical care costs, the attorney’s information, the reason for the LOP and surrounding circumstances, and the request that payment be deferred until the culmination of the legal proceedings, along with a promise to make the payments in full at that time.
An LOP can be a helpful legal tool in making sure you are able to receive necessary medical care, even during the time you are still waiting for compensation after an injury. It can also provide further benefit, in some situations. An LOP can help you and your lawyer make sure you have detailed documentation for all of your medical expenses, so your case is more adequately supported. And in some situations, the doctor who accepts the LOP may be more involved in the case and more willing to provide testimony to support your personal injury case. But a letter of protection is not always the right choice in every personal injury case. Let’s look at how you and your attorney can determine if a letter of protection is right for your situation.
Should I Use a Letter of Protection or My Insurance?
In most cases, a person would use their health insurance to cover their medical expenses. That’s what health insurance is for. If you have adequate health insurance coverage, this should cover your medical expenses after the accident. But not everyone has the benefit of health insurance which can cover the costs of expensive medical care. If you don’t have insurance but need a costly medical procedure like surgery, and LOP can be helpful. Additionally, if there are complications with your insurance company, or If there is any kind of dispute with your insurance company about who is liable for the accident and who responsible for payment, it may be best to use a letter of protection until the case is settled. This way you will not be forced to pay out of pocket the expenses for an accident you did not cause.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that a letter of protection does not solve all the financial complications of a personal injury case. And there can be drawbacks to using an LOP as well. For example, if you lose your personal injury case and are not awarded any money in the settlement, you still owe your healthcare provider for the treatment you received. And the amount you will be paying back under the terms of the LOP will most likely be the full cost of medical care, not a discounted rate as may be offered under your insurance policy. It’s possible that some bills you are paying may even be made higher due to risk of non-payment.
There is also the risk that one of the healthcare professionals providing your care will not accept an LOP. Some medical facilities have policies that do not allow for letters of protection, and you will need to take that into consideration when receiving medical treatments. This is especially important if you need to be sent by your primary care physician to a specialist or diagnostic testing center that may have different policies about LOPs.
There are other concerns you may want to speak to your attorney about when discussing whether an LOP is best for your situation. For example, some insurance companies have been known to use a tactic in which they discredit a doctor’s testimony or medical notes based on the use of an LOP. In this case the insurance company will usually try to claim that a doctor is biased because it is in their financial best interest for you to get compensation. The insurance company may argue that the doctor is only trying to help you win compensation so they will be paid. If you have a skilled legal representative, they will be able to advise you about whether this is a concern in your case and how you should proceed.
Talk to an Attorney About When to Use an LOP
The attorneys at Prince Law Firm have extensive experience working with clients who were injured through the negligence of another party. Whether the accident involved motor vehicles, a workplace injury, or a slip and fall incident, we know the tremendous financial burden that injured individuals face. Hospital stays, prescription medications, doctor’s visits, diagnostic tests, and cost of care can quickly accumulate into hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills. Realistically, paying for these expenses upfront is not something that most people are financially prepared to do.
There are laws designed to protect individuals who are injured through another party’s negligence. A letter of protection is one legal tool to help accident victims avoid paying for expensive medical care immediately out of pocket. Using an LOP can provide significant benefit to some injury victims, but it’s not necessarily the right choice in every case. Because we work so closely with every client we serve, we know which legal tools can bring the most advantage to each individual case.
If you’re injured, you don’t want to take a risk when hiring an attorney. You need to be able to trust the lawyer representing you. Our personal injury attorneys have a thorough understanding of the law, and we use our expertise to repeatedly win victories for our clients. If you have been injured in an accident and are wondering how to manage the financial stress of medical bills after an injury, we encourage you to reach out to a lawyer who can help. Our firm offers free case evaluations to injured individuals looking to learn more about their legal options. If our firm is the right fit for your case, we will never accept payment until we have helped you secure financial compensation.