What is a Personal Injury Letter of Protection (LOP)?
Financial issues should not prevent you from getting life-saving medical treatment when you are injured in an accident because of another party’s negligence. Using a letter of protection (LOP) can help you pay your treating doctors for medical services once you resolve your personal injury claim.
An LOP can help you get the treatment you need without worrying about medical bills, until you receive compensation for your injuries.
You can work with a personal car accident lawyer to help create a legally binding LOP after sustaining injuries in an automobile collision. An attorney letter of protection from The Shirvanian Law Firm can get you the necessary medical care and maximize your eventual compensation.
What is a Letter of Protection in California?
A letter of protection (LOP) is a contract you and your doctor agree to regarding payment for treatment you receive after a personal injury accident. Your attorney will prepare and send a personal injury letter of protection to your medical provider on your behalf. LOP is also known as a contractual medical lien in California. The letter of protection form includes these essential elements:
- Your name and the injuries you suffered
- Type of accident
- Medical expenses
- Your lawyer’s name and contact information
- Reason for the LOP
- Request of payment delay until the legal proceedings are complete
- Guarantee of payment resulting from your personal injury settlement
When your doctor receives an LOP, they can continue to treat you with the expectation they will receive payment when you settle your case through insurance negotiations or in court. According to your LOP, your lawyer will be legally obligated to cover the outstanding medical costs with the money in your settlement.
When your provider receives a letter of protection from the attorney, they are motivated to help you with your treatment since they understand they will get paid.
Who Can Obtain a Letter of Protection?
Anyone who suffers injuries in a vehicle collision may seek a letter of protection from an attorney, although not every medical provider will accept one.
Your attorney may consider your healthcare coverage when deciding if you need a letter of protection. However, even if you have a health insurance policy, it may have limitations for specific treatments, such as surgeries and follow-up visits. An LOP is necessary if you cannot pay your medical bills with your health insurance, especially when you have severe injuries that require multiple treatments.
The average emergency medical expenses for a non-fatal injury are $6,620. The additional medicare care costs may vary widely among hospitals and healthcare professionals. For instance, a traumatic brain injury after not wearing a motorcycle helmet can incur costly in-hospital expenses. The bills can range from $2,130 to $401,808.
Since California follows a fault-based system for auto collisions, you may need to cover your medical expenses by yourself. This type of system means that most drivers do not carry personal injury protection (PIP) that would help cover their medical expenses.
Instead, the driver whose negligence caused the accident is responsible for the damages sustained to the other injured drivers and passengers. However, the compensation you may receive from the at-fault depends on the proportion of your fault in the accident under California’s pure comparative fault doctrine.
Why Do I Need a Letter of Protection?
An attorney’s letter of protection can help you obtain your medical care. It can also prevent you from further financial penalties. For example, with a well-crafted LOP, you can access high-quality medical care without paying upfront or worrying about your accident-related bills going to collections.
Obtain Full Medical Treatment
An LOP can help you receive the medical care you need to treat your injuries. You may need the following treatments after a collision on California’s roadways:
- Prescription drugs
- Long-term hospitalization
- Imaging tests such as MRIs, X-Rays, and CT scans
- Speech, occupational, and physical therapy
You may be unable to afford these expenses out-of-pocket or through insurance. An LOP can ensure you get the necessary treatment for your injuries upfront by promising to pay the provider after winning a settlement.
The medical records and bills from these treatments can help your lawyer form the basis of your personal injury claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Your attorney can use your medical records to calculate a fair settlement in your personal injury case to cover the medical expenses fronted by the provider.
Protect Your Financial Resources
An LOP helps you protect your financial resources and credit. When medical bills go unpaid, hospitals and providers often send them to a collection agency in an attempt to get paid. Collection agencies sometimes use oppressive tactics to collect on these bills, which can add stress to your recovery.
Unpaid bills can also lower your credit score and affect your ability to obtain financing for future purchases and get approved for work. An LOP can safeguard your credit rating if you have costly medical bills from your hospitalization.
Your lawyer can include language in the LOP specifying that your doctor or the hospital may not send unpaid bills to collections.
Get Compensation for Your Injuries
You can expect the insurance company to attempt to lower your compensation during negotiations. They may even dispute who is responsible for the accident and place fault on your part.
Working with your lawyer to create an LOP may be the most suitable action until you settle your case. An LOP allows you to get the medical care you need to recover from your injuries without the added pressure of paying high medical bills immediately after a collision.
Why Hire an Attorney for Your LOP
After sustaining injuries in an accident, you can rely on your personal injury lawyer to help you if you cannot afford your medical bills. They can listen to your situation and guide you on your options for paying your bills, including using an LOP. Working with an attorney to create your LOP can benefit you in these ways:
Ensure the Provider and Hospital Allows Letters of Protection
A medical practitioner or hospital may not accept letters of protection due to workplace policies. This is important to remember when receiving medical treatment, especially when your doctor refers you to specialists and diagnostic centers.
Your lawyer can help you research doctors and facilities that accept LOPs and provide ongoing care.
Prepare LOPs Within Acceptable Terms for You and Your Provider
Your lawyer can help you negotiate letters of protection with hospitals and providers. They can write LOPs favorable for you to pay your providers back once your lawyer settles your case.
They may include payment terms if your case is unsuccessful or your award is inadequate to cover all your medical expenses.
Obtain a Fair Settlement Through Negotiation
Your attorney can negotiate with the liable party and their insurance company for a fair settlement to cover your care. Your attorney can bring your case before a jury if they refuse to negotiate.
How The Shivanian Law Firm Can Help You
Your lawyer with The Shirvanian Law Firm has the experience and skills necessary to create LOPs favorable for you and your medical providers’ terms and conditions. We work to maximize your financial recovery when you must take your case to court against the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
Contact our law office today for a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your next steps after an accident.