What Is a Letter of Protection?
Medical treatment in Pennsylvania may be top-notch, but it is far from cheap, so when you’ve been hurt in a motor vehicle accident or other mishap, hospital bills can add up quickly. Even if you have insurance or are suing the at-fault party for your losses, it can take a long time to get reimbursed.
What happens when you don’t have the money to pay for medical care that you desperately need after suffering a major injury? Your attorney may draft a Letter of Protection (LOP) on your behalf. This legal document essentially guarantees payment for your medical expenses from monies that you will receive from a future settlement or court award.
How a Letter of Protection works
A Letter of Protection is a legally binding contract between you, your legal representative, and your doctor or health care provider. The letter promises payment of all professional services rendered once your personal injury case has been successfully finalized.
In some situations, a Letter of Protection can be drafted to stop collection efforts on medical bills when private health insurance providers deny payment. For example, you were rear-ended by a negligent driver, sought treatment at the hospital, and now your health insurance refuses to pay, believing the at-fault party’s auto policy should front the costs. An LOP can delay debt collection efforts that can seriously lower your credit rating.
Letters of protection are very common in personal injury matters, as hospitals and medical professionals look for ways to ensure they will get paid in the event the patient’s private health insurance denies responsibility.
It’s worth noting that some medical providers create their own versions of a Letter of Protection that basically provides a lien against your injury claim. Be cautious and never sign any legal document before discussing it with your attorney.
Once your injury claim is settled or successfully tried before a jury, your attorney is legally obligated to pay off all outstanding medical bills with these funds. If a settlement is not recovered, or the case is lost at trial, you (the plaintiff) are wholly responsible for paying the medical bills.
Benefits of a Letter of Protection
A Letter of Protection can benefit victims of personal injury in a number of ways. For those who have no insurance, or capacity to pay for medical treatment after a car crash, this letter can stop the various penalties of having past-due medical bills.
This document lets you get necessary medical care immediately, even if you are unsure when your settlement will come through. It can stop collection agencies from harassing you, and prevent damage to your credit score, which may take years to correct.
An LOP also lets personal injury victims hold off for a settlement that is truly fair, rather than push for a quick payout because of financial strain.
A Letter of Protection can be a valuable tool for some plaintiffs, but you have got to be careful, as it’s akin to signing a blank check for ongoing medical expenses. In the end, the money will come out of your settlement or jury verdict.
Only a qualified attorney can issue an LOP on your behalf, and it’s a good idea to have a candid discussion to see if it’s a wise move in your particular case.
Learn more from Chaffin Luhana
If you were injured in an accident due to the negligence or wrongdoing of another, you likely qualify for legal compensation to cover your medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering. Contact Chaffin Luhana to arrange a free case evaluation. Our firm is proud to represent individuals in a broad range of personal injury matters, ranging from defective products to trucking accidents.
Speak with an experienced personal injury attorney in Pittsburgh about your circumstance and whether you may benefit from a Letter of Protection. We are a plaintiffs-only law firm that provides focused advocacy with no upfront legal fees.