If you are like most people, you probably assume that if you get in an auto accident and need medical treatment that either your private medical insurance or your liability insurance will cover your medical fees. You may be surprised to learn that you can be left holding the bill for medical costs that result from an auto accident. Filing a letter of protection (LOP) will delay the payment of the bills until the case is settled.
What is a Letter of Protection?
A letter of protection is a legal document sent to your medical professionals from your personal injury lawyer. This document assures the medical providers that the bill will be paid when the case is settled. If you win your case, the fees will be taken out of the settlement.
When should you file a letter of protection?
An LOP should be filed as soon as possible after the accident. Talk to your personal injury lawyer and inform him of all medical care you have sought or require in connection with the accident. This may include psychological counseling, stress management sessions or any other medical services needed to address your psychological, mental and physical health after the accident.
Why do you pay medical bills that result from someone else's negligence or recklessness?
It may seem as though you are being punished, even though the accident was not your fault. The truth is, you already claimed the cost of all medical fees in your personal injury claim. That means that part of your settlement is calculated to cover your medical costs and was never intended for other uses. While it may feel like you are getting short-changed when medical fees are taken out of your settlement, you aren't. Those medical bills were part of the reason your filed a personal injury suit in the first place.
Why are the medical costs taken out of your settlement before you get the remaining funds?
The truth is that the only way to be sure the medical bills are actually paid is to pay them from the first cut of the settlement. Your medical professionals have extended you the courtesy of waiting for payment and deserve to be paid. While you may never dream of skipping out on paying your legitimate bills, some people would. Paying it from the settlement before disbursing any remaining funds protects the medical facility and ensures that the award money is spent as it was intended.
What happens if you lose your personal injury case?
If you lose your personal injury case, you are still responsible for paying your medical bills. You may be able to claim the medical bills on your private insurance or on your liability insurance, but if they deny the claims you will be left holding the bill. If this happens, and you are unable to pay your medical bills, you may have other options.
- Arrange to make regular payments toward the outstanding balance. Most medical facilities and medical providers will work with you to pay off an outstanding balance.
- Apply for free or sliding scale fees through the medical facility. These fees are based on your finances and your ability to pay the full bill. Part or all of the bill may be forgiven or covered by charity funds through the hospital or medical organization.
If you are injured in an auto accident, call a personal injury or auto accident lawyer as soon as possible. Firms like The Jaklitsch Law Group can help you make arrangements for medical care and direct you in how to document your injuries and the affects they have on your life, including their affect on your finances. Ask them to file a letter of protection for you if you are faced with medical bills that you are unable to pay. It won't guarantee that you will never have to pay them yourself, but it will give you time to recover without the stress of medical bills looming over your head.