Personal Injury

What is a Letter of Protection in a Personal Injury Case?

personal injury lawsuit

personal injury lawsuitA letter of protection is a letter sent by an attorney on behalf of a client who does not have health insurance. It is sent to a doctor or hospital to indicate that the attorney is trying to win a claim or lawsuit for the client and that if the doctor agrees to provide treatment and/ or hold off on collections until after the case is over; they will be paid by the attorney out of the settlement money before it is distributed to the client. In other words, it is a guarantee made by your attorney to your health care providers that they will be paid first if and when you settle your claim.

Why You Might You Need a Letter of Protection During A Personal Injury Case

If you are injured due to another’s negligence, you may not have health insurance, Med-Pay or PIP to pay your medical bills while you are being treated for your injuries. And, in most cases, the liable party’s insurance company will be unwilling to pay your medical bills as they are incurred. In fact, insurance companies are typically only required to make one settlement, for one amount, at the end of the claim and in exchange for a full release of any further liability.

As such, if you are injured and do not have insurance of your own to your pay medical bills as you receive treatment, and you cannot afford to pay for the treatment out of your pocket, this can be a major and unfair hardship to you and your family.

In order to help people in this situation, some doctors and hospitals will agree to provide ongoing treatment and/or hold off on the collection of previous bills in exchange for a “letter of protection” (called by other names, such as  a “lien letter,” in some places) from your attorney.

In most cases, the doctor will be more comfortable providing this service to you, if they know that your attorney will pay them rather than you paying them yourself. Therefore, your attorney agrees with the doctor by means of the letter of protection that if money is received in your case, he or she will pay your medical bills from the settlement money before distributing any money to you.

Two Very Important Things to Keep in Mind in Regards To Letters Of Protection

There are two very important things to keep in mind when it comes to letters of protection. First, the attorney is not agreeing to pay your medical bills personally. Rather, he or she is only agreeing that if the case results in the receipt of money, the doctor will get paid before you get paid. Second, the doctor is not agreeing to waive his or her bill if you lose.

If the case closes and you get nothing, then the letter of protection is cancelled and you will owe the doctor the full amount of your bill. In that sense, by asking your attorney to provide a letter of protection for your continued treatment, you are, in a way, gambling that you will win the money to pay for that treatment. Of course, whether you ultimately win or not, your health and well-being should always be your primary concern.