Personal Injury lawyer Ben Schwartz answers a viewer’s question, ” What is a letter of protection, and why am I being asked to sign one”?
Hi, I’m Ben Schwartz,
Today we are going to answer a viewer question. The question is, “what is a letter of protection, and why am I being asked to sign one”? The direct answer is after you are injured in a car accident or a slip and fall, you go to your chiropractor, you go to your medical doctor, you go to your physical therapist and they want to get paid for treating you. So, what they will sometimes do is ask you to sign a letter of protection. A letter of protection is a letter, it says to the medical treatment provider, I understand you are going to treat me and when I come in for my treatments I’m not going to pay you out-of-pocket. When I get my settlement from the case that I’m going to pursue, I’ll make sure that you get paid from my settlement. It is something that is very common in personal injury cases, especially in the states where maybe you know, you’ve got states where the personal injury protection, the insurance on automobiles, is relatively minimal.
For example, in the state of Maryland, a lot of people carry a $2,500 PIP provision on their auto policy. That does not go very far in paying for medical expenses and so a lot of medical offices, chiropractic offices, physical therapy offices want their patients to sign letters of protection if they are going to pursue their legal rights if they’re going to pursue an insurance claim or a personal injury case. Some medical offices do this as part of their intake forms, some medical offices do this only if the PIP, the personal injury protection, insurance runs out. But essentially, that is what a letter of protection is. It’s an agreement that you are going to sign saying to the doctor if you continue to treat me, I’ll make sure that my lawyer pays you out of my settlement.
Are letters of protection good things or bad things? I would say it really depends on the facts and circumstances of the case. I think the takeaway, if you are watching this video and you have been injured in some type of accident, you have an attorney working on the case and you’ve got a doctor or physical therapist asking for a letter of protection, the takeaway that you should get out of watching this video is you should have a conversation with your attorney about whether your case supports a letter of protection.
There are cases where the medical expenses are phenomenally huge and the amount of insurance available to pay a settlement is not phenomenally huge and sometimes lawyers will issue a letter of protection to medical providers without really thinking about it because they own obligation to their client and their obligation is to help their client to get medical treatment. But then when the settlement comes, you are dividing up the settlement in so many different ways that the lawyer has to go to the doctors and ask them to take significant reductions on their bills.
So, I would say if you have been injured in an accident, you have an attorney, your doctor says here to sign this letter of protection, what you should do is take that letter of protection to your attorney. Meet your attorney, find out does the value of my case support signing off on a letter of protection? Are there any alternatives? Help me to gain informed consent so I know my alternatives and I know the pros and cons of signing the letter of protection in my particular case and then make an informed decision on whether to sign it or not sign it based on the facts of your specific case.
I hope that answers your question. I hope you now know what letters of protection are and hope that you found this video informative, entertaining, and maybe you are a little bit smarter about your rights and the law. If you have a question for me, send me an email.
Thanks for watching!