What’s a Letter of Protection?

When friends and family ask us what we do, we often have to explain the definition of certain terms. One of such terms is “letter of protection”. Here we will describe what a letter of protection is and how it related to Power Liens, for anyone who is curious.

To put it simply, a letter of protection is a document that is designed to assist someone who has been injured (generally due to the negligence of another) to obtain medical treatment though they would normally have severe difficulty paying for it themselves.

Typically, when someone goes to the doctor they either pay for the services out of their pocket or use their insurance to cover the medical expenses. But when the doctor visit is a treatment required as a result of an injury, like a car accident, medical insurance companies might refuse to pay for the care because they believe the other party involved in the accident should be responsible for paying the expenses. They want you to get the money from the auto insurance carrier of the person responsible for the accident for the medical treatment.

Now your treatments, however, will not automatically be paid for by car insurance carriers. Many want you to pay for the treatment out of pocket, and afterwards turn in your medical bills all together when they will decide what they want to pay you to settle the case. In certain cases, medical treatment may last months or even years and they car insurance companies still expect the patient to pay for the costs up front. Physicians now anticipate this issue from insurance liability carriers and because of it, they will not treat patients if their injuries are a result of a car accident. This unfortunate situation puts a lot of injured people across the country in a troubling predicament.

So what happens if you get in an automobile collision and need treatment, but health insurance is not an option? What if you don’t have the money to pay for the treatment either? You obviously still need to see a doctor.

This is why you need a Letter of Protection (what is also known as a medical lien). When someone is injured, their lawyer will send a letter of protection to a doctor or medical provider that promises to pay for the medical bills their client owes out of any settlement acquired by the personal injury case. It is basically a contract that ensures the doctor that though he won’t be paid up front, he will be paid when the case receives recovery whether by settlement or by trial. If and when the lawyer wins money for the case, he or she is obligated to make sure the physician who treated the case receives his medical expenses out of the funds acquired. If the case is not settled, and no recovery is acquired from the case, the client who was injured is still obligated to pay the bill. The medical provider still has the right to pursue the patient for the full costs of the bill just like any other time they are owed money.

Also, LOP’s are occasionally rendered when a personal injury lawyer is trying to push back collection of a medical fee that was incurred in the past. Imagine you are in a car accident and have to go to the doctor for care. They send the statement to your insurance but they don’t want to reimburse the claim as the injury was due to a car wreck. It’s a pricey bill and you cannot afford to pay for it. In this case, you can get your attorney to send the provider a letter of protection so that they don’t file the bill hurting your credit or sending it to collections. So just like the initial explanation, here the letter of protection gives the injured party leeway in when he has to pay for medical care received as a result of an accident. They will likely just pay for it out of the settlement of the case. Just as before, if the case is lost and no money is recovered from the conclusion of the case, the medical provider can still pursue collection efforts from their patient.

Many times, lawyers of insurance companies attempt to paint the doctors in a case as biased when letters of protection are used because they still haven’t been paid for the services rendered. The fact is that LOP’s would not even be needed if the insurance companies were willing to pay the medical expenses from the beginning. People who seek treatment under a letter of protection do so because they have no other options and are forced to do so.

While they are called letters of protection in states like Florida, in other states like California, these documents are referred to as medical liens. PowerLiens.com was created to help attorneys and their injured clients find doctors who are willing to work on LOP’s or doctors on liens. This can come in handy when the client needs treatment but does not have insurance or money to pay for medical care from a doctor.