Once you file a personal injury lawsuit to recover the cost of your hospital treatment and other medical treatment, you may still be worried about delinquent bills. This worry is very real.
Fortunately, in California, plaintiffs in personal injury cases may be able to send a letter of protection (LOP) to their medical care providers to ward off any past due or collections measures.
If you’ve been harmed through the negligence of another party and are awaiting a settlement, ask your Los Angeles personal injury lawyer about an LOP.
What is a letter of protection?
A letter of protection is issued by your lawyer and sent to your medical care provider, agreeing to pay for the treatment of your injuries from whatever monetary award the patient will receive from a personal injury lawsuit judgment or settlement.
LOPs are contractual agreements allowing the plaintiff to receive the medical care they need “on credit.”
Your attorney asks your doctor to wait for payment until your case is concluded and you receive your compensation. If your lawyer wins your case, they have agreed to pay your doctor or doctors for the medical care they provided.
If your lawyer fails to win your case, the LOP states that the victim will be responsible for paying the medical bills, and the healthcare provider can pursue payment against them like any other creditor.
Many people may not realize that their health insurance plan may not cover injuries sustained in a car accident or other kind of personal injury accident because the health insurance company anticipates the defendant’s insurance company will pay the bills instead. Many doctor’s offices understand this and expect it from insurance companies.
A Letter of Protection Can Delay Collections and Protect Your Credit
Letters of protection can also help prevent collections activities from your outstanding medical bills or having the outstanding bills go to collections.
Let’s look at a common example of how an LOP can help. You have been in a car accident and know you didn’t cause it.
You go to the emergency room for medical care, and the hospital’s billing department submits an invoice to your health insurance carrier. But you discover that your own insurance company is refusing to pay the bill because it was for care provided because of an auto collision.
You cannot afford to pay the entire bill on your own and are understandably worried. So your Los Angeles personal injury lawyer may send the hospital an LOP in exchange for the hospital billing department holding off sending you the bill or, worse, sending the bill to collections.
The LOP informs the hospital that you, the patient, have retained the services of an attorney who is pursuing a settlement against the party that caused the accident (and their insurance company).
Can a letter of protection be used against me or affect my California personal injury case?
One question that many plaintiffs have is whether the LOP could negatively affect their chances of getting compensation. Some people may worry that if their lawyer sends a letter saying the bill will be paid from a settlement, the lawyer is guaranteeing a settlement – or worry that the other side could use this action against them in court.
If your case goes to court and your doctor testifies about the cause of your injuries, the impact on your life, and your expected prognosis, the defendant’s lawyer may argue that the doctor is biased because they have an outstanding bill that will be paid out of the settlement.
Fortunately, judges understand the purpose of an LOP and are unbiased parties who can see through these tricks of the defense.
Do you need an LOP?
If you’ve been injured through another party’s negligence, and you’re not sure how you can pay your bills, we can help. Saeedian Law Group, Los Angeles personal injury lawyers, can help pursue a settlement and issue an LOP if you require one. Contact us today to learn more about your legal options.