When you are injured in an accident due to another’s fault, you deserve to receive timely and appropriate medical treatment to recover from your injuries. A letter of protection is a legal tool that lets you receive medical care now and pay for it later, after you have settled your personal injury case.
This means you can focus on getting better without having to stress about how you will afford the treatment. The financial compensation you get from the negligent parties later on will cover these costs. A car accident lawyer can help you set up a legally sound letter of protection and make sure you get the best possible financial outcome from a claim.
What Is a Letter of Protection (LOP)?
An LOP is a legally binding contract between three parties:
- The patient (who is an injury victim)
- The patient’s attorney
- The doctor
This document assures that the medical provider will be paid for their medical services out of the settlement or judgment received from the personal injury claim. The purpose of an LOP is to allow people who have suffered severe injuries due to someone else’s negligence to get the medical treatment they need. If you – the accident victim/plaintiff – must receive medical attention but do not have the money to pay for it because the injury is unexpected and caused by another party, a letter of protection is worth looking into.
Your LOP will contain the following details:
- Your name and the scope of your injuries
- The nature of the personal injury accident
- The medical costs incurred due to the accident
- Your attorney’s contact information
- The specific reason you need an LOP
- A request to delay the payment of medical bills until the conclusion of your legal case
- A promise that the payment for these services will come from the money you receive from personal injury settlement
When your medical professional gets this letter, they understand they will be paid for their services, but not right away. Instead, they will get their payment after you have received your settlement, either from an insurance company or through a court decision. The LOP binds your lawyer to use the settlement funds to pay off these healthcare expenses.
An LOP also stops your hospital bills from going straight to debt collectors in case you are waiting to receive compensation and the costs keep piling up. This can give you some much-needed breathing room.
That said, not all doctors or hospitals agree to hold off on payment via a letter of protection. Some might agree to wait if they know and trust the lawyer who is handling your injury case. This trust is often built over time.
Should I Get a Letter of Protection for My California Accident Injuries?
When you have limited funds or do not have enough health insurance to cover the medical costs of your personal injury, an LOP can be very useful. In a state like California, which follows the at-fault system for car accidents, the responsibility to pay damages lies with the person who caused the accident.
Notably, many drivers in California may not carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP) or Medical Payments (MedPay) coverage as part of their auto insurance policies. Both PIP and MedPay are designed to cover medical expenses and, in some cases, lost wages, regardless of who is at fault in an accident. They kick in quickly, helping cover costs without waiting for a fault determination.
Without PIP or MedPay, you might face delays in getting your medical expenses covered. If the at-fault party’s insurance company disputes the claim or if there is a delay in establishing liability, you could be left waiting for necessary care. An LOP might then be your only option.
There are some other ways in which an LOP can act as your safety net:
It gives you access to quality care
With a Letter of Protection, you are in a better position to get all the treatments you might need after an accident, which includes:
- Multiple surgeries
- Medication as prescribed
- Diagnostic imaging tests, like MRIs, X-rays, or CT scans
- Extended stays in the hospital
- Different types of therapy (speech, physical, or occupational)
If these costs are too high for you to pay on your own or through insurance, an LOP can be a lifeline. Furthermore, your medical records and invoices from these treatments will likely become critical in your legal claim. They can provide your personal injury lawyer with essential evidence to argue for a fair settlement from the insurance providers.
It keeps you financially stable
When you cannot pay medical bills right away, it is common for medical providers to send these bills to collection agencies. These agencies can be persistent and their methods stressful, which is the last thing you need when you are healing.
Unpaid bills can also harm your credit score. A lower score makes it harder to borrow money for things like a new car or home and can even influence the job opportunities you get. An LOP can help keep your credit record from being affected by large treatment bills. Your attorney can specify in this personal injury letter that your medical practitioner should not send your unpaid bills to the debt collectors.
Choose a Dedicated California Personal Injury Attorney to Maximize Your Compensation
Dealing with insurance companies during a claim is complicated as they usually try to pay out as little as possible and may question who was at fault in the accident, sometimes suggesting you were responsible.
Creating a Letter of Protection with an experienced personal injury attorney at the Law Offices of Brown & Gessell can be a strong starting point to pursue settlement negotiations without the financial pressure to settle for a lowball amount. It can help you and your family go through this trying time without feeling financially insecure.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a car accident, slip-and-fall accident, or any other situation caused by someone else’s negligent behavior, we can help. Instead of worrying about how you will pay for the doctor’s bills, speak to our knowledgeable personal injury lawyer about setting up an LOP with your providers.
Since not all medical services accept LOPs, we can also help you research ones that will be willing to provide you ongoing care without expecting payment immediately. If you have any questions, feel free to schedule a free consultation to understand all your legal options. We only work on a contingency fee basis, so you do not have to pay us unless you win your claim. Give us a call at (209) 583-3938 or send us a message today to get started.