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What Is a Letter of Protection?
Posted in Personal Injury on February 6, 2020
Personal injury accidents can happen at any time to anyone — regardless of financial status, insurance coverage, or access to adequate medical care. Without proper medical insurance coverage, even the smallest injury or illness can cost a significant amount of money. When someone else’s negligence or recklessness contributes to your serious injury and you do not have the means to pay for your recovery, the physical, financial, and emotional damages can be even more dire.
If you do not have medical insurance or your coverage isn’t sufficient enough to pay for your personal injury, a letter of protection may be the best option for you. Since you cannot prove a personal injury case without medical evidence, this document allows you to bypass insurance-related barriers to receive the care you need — and allow you to access your right for compensation through a lawsuit or insurance claim. For more information about personal injury protection, speak to a Seattle personal injury lawyer at Colburn Law today.
What Does a Letter of Protection Mean?
Simply put, letters of protection are documents that allow uninsured or underinsured individuals to seek the medical care they need after suffering a personal injury. The claims system relies on medical evidence to prove that a personal injury occurred, but an insurance company will not pay for your medical care until after you receive treatment and have the bills and evidence to prove your damages.
If you cannot receive medical care to begin with, this situation presents a significant barrier to filing your claim. With a letter of protection, your attorney will send the document to a medical provider with an agreement that you will pay for your medical expenses with your settlement upon conclusion of your case. If you do not receive a settlement, you will pay for your expenses out of pocket.
Is a Letter of Protection Legally Binding?
A letter of protection is a legally binding contract, and failure to honor this contract could result in the medical office pursuing you to pay the cost of the medical treatment.
The language and conditions in different letters of protection may differ, so it is important to read the document carefully before agreeing to it or sending it to a medical provider. In most cases, your letter will contain the following stipulations.
- You have a pending personal injury case, you require medical treatment to proceed with this case, and the letter of protection will remain valid until the conclusion of your case.
- The medical professional will provide treatment for you to care for these injuries while your case is undergoing negotiations or at trial.
- The medical professional will not demand payment, turn your account over to collections, or pursue you for payment until the letter of protection is no longer in effect.
- Your attorney will pay for the full cost of your medical treatment with a portion of your settlement or you will pay the expenses out of pocket.
Is a Letter of Protection a Lien?
A medical lien is a document that ensures, through official government processes, that a healthcare provider will receive payment for treating a patient involved in a personal injury case upon conclusion of his or her settlement. A letter of protection is not the same as a lien, even though attorneys often use these terms interchangeably
Unlike letters of protection, the healthcare provider or hospital usually files the lien and may ask you to sign it while you are receiving care. When your case concludes, the provider can enforce the lien to claim a part of your settlement.
While medical liens deal with similar cases as letters of protection, the healthcare provider will file the lien with the county you are seeking treatment in. Your attorney will not file a letter of protection with the county.
If you are struggling with the aftermath of a personal injury and do not have enough insurance to pay for your treatment, a letter of protection can help. Contact your personal injury attorney as soon as possible to discuss your options for treatment and to begin filing your claim.