Letter of Protection
A letter of protection is a document that is sent to a doctor, or medical professional, by a lawyer on their client’s behalf. This document explains to the doctor or medical professional that the lawyer’s client – who received medical treatment of some sort from the professional – is unable to pay their medical bills/expenses at the moment. The document assures the doctor that they will receive full payment because their former – or perhaps current – patient is involved in a court case to collect compensation for damages resulting from their accident.
If your child has been injured in an accident but you can’t afford to pay their medical bills on your own, filing a letter of protection is a good idea. You can learn more about letters of protection in Connecticut here.
Not Really a Letter?
The so-called letter of protection, or “LOP” for short, is really not much of a letter at all. Instead, the document is a contract between the injured party, the attorney and the doctor/medical professional. This contract permits the injured party to continue receiving medical treatment for their promise to pay their medical bills in the future. This payment is to come directly from either the settlement or the monetary damages that the injured party receives. The injured party’s credit will not be hurt in any way throughout this process.
Purpose of a LOP
The purpose of a letter of protection is twofold. First, the letter of protection helps relieve any concerns the doctor/medical professional may have about receiving payment for their services. The letter updates the doctor by letting him or her know that their (former) patient is involved in litigation to receive compensation for their injuries. These damages can then be used to pay off medical bills. Since the letter of protection comes from an attorney, the doctor is probably more assured that he or she will eventually receive the payment legally owed to them. Bottom line: the letter of protection lets the doctor know that he or she – more specifically, his or her bills – haven’t been forgotten.
Second, the letter of protection helps relieve stress on the part of the patient/injured party – in this case, your family. Maybe the doctor has been calling or sending letters to your home, reminding you the money they owe for your child’s medical bills or even demanding payment immediately. This kind of contact would make anyone nervous – but, it would especially make someone on edge who has been wrongfully injured in an accident and has brought a lawsuit against whoever was at fault.
What If You Lose the Lawsuit?
It is important to keep in mind that if you lose your child’s personal injury lawsuit or don’t collect sufficient compensation, the letter of protection doesn’t release your obligation to pay your child’s medical bills. Also, the letter of protection doesn’t hold your attorney liable to pay your medical expenses in the event that he or she loses the case or wins a smaller amount than was expected.
In the event that your child’s case is lost or ends up settling for a lower amount, your lawyer will most likely try to negotiate with your doctor about the amount you owe them. This can sometimes work out, as doctors often overcharge because situations like this happen frequently.