A letter of protection is a document, usually written by your lawyer, that ensures your health care provider that you intend to pay your medical bills once your personal injury case is settled. A letter of protection is often necessary because health care providers demand immediate payment of bills but insurance companies will not pay out auto accident claims until your medical treatment has been completed or the case has been settled. However, you may not need a letter of protection in all situations. Below are some things that you should keep in mind about a letter of protection if you are seeking medical treatment after a car accident.
A Letter of Protection Should Be Written by a Lawyer
In general, most letters of protection are written by a lawyer and mention the likely outcome of the case as well as a date of settlement. If you do not have a lawyer representing you in your auto accident case, you can still ask a lawyer to draft a letter of protection for a small fee. Alternatively, you may write your own letter of protection and have it notarized. However, not all health care providers will accept a notarized letter from you, so make sure that this will suffice before drafting your own version.
Some Health Care Providers Have a Letter of Protection Available in Their Office
You may not always need your own lawyer to write you a letter of protection, though. Some health care providers, especially those who often care for accident victims, may have a letter of protection available in their office. Your doctor will fill out your medical information and dates of treatment, and you will sign the document either once or each time you receive treatment. It's good to ask your health provider if they assist in any way with letters of protection before drafting your own.
If Your Health Insurance or Auto Insurance Covers Your Medical Expenses, You Will Not Need a Letter of Protection
If you are able to pay for your medical expenses on your own or if your health or auto insurance is willing to cover your expenses before your case is settled, then you may not need a letter of protection. However, there is often a breakdown in insurance coverage after an auto accident as personal health insurance will only kick in after your auto insurance has covered their full amount, and that will only be paid after a settlement has been reached.
You Should Make Sure Your Health Care Provider Will Accept a Letter of Protection Before Seeking Treatment
Most health care providers demand payment at the time of service. If you plan to use a letter of protection to delay payment, it is important to make sure that your health care provider will accept a letter of protection before you receive treatment. Otherwise, you may be stuck with a bill that is due immediately. However, keep in mind that most emergency services such as ambulances and ERs will accept a letter of protection even after you have received treatment.
If You Do Not Win a Settlement, You Will Be Required to Pay the Medical Bills Delayed by Your Letter of Protection
It is important to realize that a letter of protection does not absolve you from paying your medical bills. If you do not win a settlement, you will be responsible for paying your medical bills. Similarly, if it takes longer than you expected to reach a settlement, you may have to re-negotiate another extension of your medical debts with a second letter of protection or you may have to start paying your bills out of pocket.
Paying medical bills and receiving insurance benefits after an accident can be confusing. To have all your questions answered, contact car accident lawyers.