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What Is a Letter of Protection?
February 21, 2017

What Is a Letter of Protection?

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If you were injured in an accident and can’t pay your medical bills, you can get help. Your injury lawyer from Jim Adler & Associates can draw up a “letter of protection.” But what is a letter of protection, also known as an LOP?

Such a letter is sent by an injury attorney to medical professionals at hospitals or clinics to enable an injured person to get their medical care on credit — medical care that they can’t afford either because they lack insurance or their insurance won’t readily pay. This credit is provided by medical professionals in exchange for a promise to be paid for such services out of a future injury settlement or trial verdict.

A letter of protection can be sent to help victims of many different kinds of injuries, including injuries suffered in car accidents, work accidents, slip and fall accidents, dog bites or other mishaps caused by the negligence of others. That way, victims can arrange medical care they need in advance of obtaining payments from a court judgment or out-of-court settlement, which can take months.

Why Doesn’t Insurance Help without a LOP?

You may be wondering why your insurance company doesn’t help pay medical bills after an accident. You may be wondering why you must rely on a letter of protection sent to medical professionals by a Jim Adler injury lawyer — an injury lawyer who also will stand up to insurance companies and fight for your financial recovery via settlement or trial.

The problem is that auto liability insurance companies won’t pay for injury medical costs as you go. Instead, while treatment costs mount — perhaps for months — insurers expect you to pay for your own care, collect the bills and then submit them in a group when it’s time to settle the case. That’s why you need a letter of protection to help you.

Or, an insurer may offer a quick “low-ball” settlement which may pay for some of your bills, but not nearly enough to meet protections you purchased with your policy. Accepting such a quick settlement is a mistake.

Some insurance companies may decline payment outright for medical care that’s needed to treat injuries from a car wreck caused by another driver. They expect the victim to seek payment from the insurance company representing the negligent driver who caused the accident.

But what if the bad driver lacks insurance or has too little insurance coverage to pay your medical bills? A way around that is to buy uninsured motorist coverage and underinsured motorist coverage. That way, your own insurance company should pay for injuries caused by another driver who lacks insurance or who has insufficient insurance.

How Can Doctors Help?

Not only are insurance companies a problem, but numerous physicians decline to treat persons via their normal health insurance if their injury was caused by an auto accident. Yet many victims need immediate health care yet are unable to pay for it on their own, especially when medical costs are high or their injury makes them unable to work.

Doctors are aware of this, and many have come to accept a letter of protection as an alternative.

Jim Adler’s injury lawyers in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Channelview can help injured Texans get the medical care they need by sending a letter of protection to medical providers. That letter is an agreement by you to pay for your medical costs directly from any future recovery via a trial judgment or out-of-court settlement.

In this way, the creditor — the medical provider — agrees to wait until the case has been resolved to demand payment. When the case is resolved by a judgement or settlement, your injury lawyer will ensure that the medical provider is paid from those funds before you are paid with the remaining balance.

Most car accident cases are resolved via an out-of-court settlement. But in the event that no settlement or judgment is gained for the plaintiff — that is, no financial recovery — the victim is responsible for medical costs, and the medical provider has a legal right to seek payment for them, as with any other debt.

Since a large majority of cases are settled out of court, such a prospect usually is not a concern. That’s why many physicians will accept a letter of protection as a guarantee of future payment when a case is settled.

Insurance Company Tactics

When settling your case with an insurance company, it may try to assert that a letter of protection makes your physician biased — on your lawyer’s side — since his or her bills remain outstanding and are subject to the letter of protection. The insurer may assert that the physician has inflated the costs of your medical bills to help your lawyer gain a larger settlement.

Your injury lawyer can resist such a claim and demand fair and fitting payments for the full extent of your injuries.

An irony is that no letter of protection would have been needed in the first place if the insurer had paid medical bills from the start. Instead, by denying or delaying payments, the insurer virtually forces injured persons who can’t afford medical treatment to get a letter of protection, which the insurer then may try to use against them at trial.

Again, the skilled and experienced injury lawyers of Jim Adler & Associates can fight back on your behalf.

An Injury Lawyer Helps in Many Ways

Indeed, a personal injury lawyer can help in many ways. These include:

Your injury lawyer also can request certain conditions of physicians in your letter of protection. The LOP may insist that the physician provide all records of treatments and billing free of copying charges. The letter also may request that the physician agree to give testimony via a deposition or at trial without charging expert witness fees.

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