A letter of protection (LOP) is an official document a plaintiff’s personal injury attorney can send to health care professionals to get the plaintiff medical care without having to pay the costs at the time of service. When an accident victim needs prompt medical care but cannot foot the bill, an attorney may send an LOP as a type of “promise” to the medical center that it will get its payment from the lawsuit settlement or judgment award. A successful LOP can get the victim the medical care he or she desperately needs without putting the victim in a financial bind.
Who Might Need a Letter of Protection?
As the innocent victim of a car accident, it might surprise you to find that your medical insurance company refuses to cover the costs of your crash-related hospital stays, scans and x-rays, surgeries, appointments, prescriptions, and medical devices. Unfortunately, this is a common issue that occurs when medical insurance companies deny claims on the grounds that the victim’s driver’s insurance policy should cover the costs instead.
While the two insurance companies debate about which will cover the bills, the victim does not have the time to wait without medical care. The same is true if the other driver or party’s insurance company is denying the claim or delaying it for any reason. When an accident victim cannot afford to pay out of pocket, but also cannot afford to wait on treatment, an attorney’s LOP can be an ideal solution. An LOP will prevent the victim from having to accept a fast settlement to pay his or her medical bills, giving the victim the time and leeway he or she needs to seek proper medical care and fight for a fairer compensation award.
An LOP is more than just a letter. It’s a legally binding contract that places the attorney under obligation to ensure that a settlement or award will include payment for medical bills. If the plaintiff loses his or her case, the plaintiff will be legally responsible for paying the medical costs out of pocket.
How to Get a Letter of Protection
Insurance companies know what they’re doing. They make it their mission to pressure accident victims and claimants into settling for as small an award as possible to save the company money. Insurance claims adjusters know how stressed and confused accident victims can be, especially when facing serious injuries. Sadly, insurers may use this fact against victims, taking advantage of their vulnerability to push them into accepting a quick settlement offer. With an LOP, victims can hold off on accepting settlements until they know for sure it’s a fair amount.
To get a letter of protection sent to your health care provider after an accident in Georgia, consult a local personal injury attorney. Hiring a lawyer is free if the firm operates on a contingency-fee basis, which most do. In this fee setup, the attorney will take his or her fees out of any settlement or judgment won. That way the plaintiff owes $0 up-front costs and never has to pay for legal representation out of pocket. Schedule a free consultation with one such firm and benefit from legal services such as LOPs free of any initial costs.
Once you retain an attorney, he or she will send the letter of protection to the medical provider, stating that the plaintiff will pay medical expenses when he or she recovers money for injuries. In some cases, the LOP serves to postpone medical bill collections that the hospital or a third-party collection agency has sent to the accident victim. The attorney will calculate the amount “promised” by assessing total medical costs, damages, and expected future expenses. In most cases, an attorney will include the same amount in the personal injury claim as what the plaintiff wishes to recover for medical costs.