Letters of protection, or LOPs, are a way for individuals who do not have medical insurance to receive the care they need while pursuing a personal injury suit in court. Here are the top four myths most people have about LOPs.
Myth #1: An LOP Means Your Doctor Can Never Go After You For Payments
A LOP allows you to obtain the medical care you need while you are engaged in a personal injury case. For the duration of your case, your doctor will agree to treat you and not send any of your bills to collections.
If you win your case, your doctor will be paid directly out of your settlement.
If you lose your case, however, your medical bills are still your responsibility. You can have your attorney try to work out a payment plan and reduced charges with your medical provider. If you don't make any attempts to pay your bills after you case is over though, your medical provider can send your bills to collection agencies.
Myth #2: If You Don't Win Your Case, Your Doctor Has To Forgive Your Bills
If you lose your case, you still have to pay your doctor. Your LOP essentially allowed you a grace period while your case was going through the court system. Once your case is over, that grace period also ends. Even though you are not getting the money you were expecting, you are still obligated to settle your bills.
In order to prevent your bills from being sent to collections, try to work out a payment plan with your doctor if you lose your case.
Myth #3: If You Lose Your Case, Your Attorney Will Pay Your Doctor
If you won your case, it would be your attorney's responsibility to pay your medical bills with your settlement money. However, if you lost your case, your personal injury attorney is under no legal obligation to pay your medical bills. They are your bills alone to pay.
Myth #4: All Medical Professionals Have To Accept An LOP
Medical providers are under no legal or ethical obligation to accept an LOP. It is something that they do as a courtesy. Many primary care physicians and chiropractors regularly accept and sign LOPs. However, many medical centers and hospitals do not accept LOPs.
Make sure you don't fall for any of the four myths concerning LOPs listed above. An LOP essentially allows you to defer payment while getting treatment and awaiting a settlement or verdict in your legal case. It does not absolve you of responsibility for paying your bills. If you have any more questions about how an LOP works, discuss them with your attorney.