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June 05, 2023

Letter of Protection: What Is It and Do I Need One After A Car Accident?

After a car accident, physical injuries and medical expenses are unfortunate facts of life. Medical expenses can far outweigh the resources of a patient to pay out of pocket at the best of times, and a patient injured in an auto wreck may not be able to work to pay emergency bills, either. Medical providers, quite reasonably, want to be paid for their hard work and professional skill. A letter of protection from an attorney can help resolve the issue of payment and treatment.

What Is a Letter of Protection?

A letter of protection is basically an agreement entered into on behalf of the patient. Some medical providers require them as part of their intake procedure after an accident. Other providers require them if other sources of payment are not available or run out. A personal injury attorney Silver Spring will write a letter of protection on behalf of a client.

In each case, the nature of the letter of protection is the same.

The doctor, chiropractor, or medical provider agrees to provide treatment without seeking immediate payment for their services. The patient understands that the services are provided “on account” and, in exchange, agrees to make certain that the services are paid for when the patient reaches a settlement with the responsible insurance carrier or after receiving an award in court. In this way, the patient guarantees or protects the medical providers’ interest in payment.

The letter of protection may look especially attractive or tempting if other sources of payment are minimal or non-existent. Medicare or Medicaid may cover elderly or poor patients, and some kinds of insurance coverage may also exist.

In Maryland, auto insurance companies are required to offer Personal Injury Protection or PIP coverage, like those in no-fault insurance states. These are policies that pay medical bills without reference to fault.

However, many drivers carry only a minimal policy coverage of $2,500. The sad truth of the matter is that $2,500 does not cover very much where medical bills are involved. Even ten times that amount, $25,000 can be quickly exhausted in a single emergency room visit. A catastrophic event can easily exhaust $250,000.

Clearly, a driver should consider carrying as much PIP coverage as they can afford. This still leaves the question of whether signing a letter of protection or asking an attorney to prepare a letter of protection is wise or unwise. The answer is that it depends in part upon the financial resources of the client and in part upon the value of the case being brought. In the case of emergency rooms, there are federal laws that require the emergency room to provide treatment, whether guaranteed payment or not.

Some cases are not very valuable, either because the chance of recovery is low or because the insurance or assets of the at-fault party will not be sufficient to cover the medical bills, let alone the other damages. In such cases, the patient should consult an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible.

Many attorneys will simply issue letters of protection because it is clearly in the best interest of the client to receive as much medical treatment as they may need to make a full recovery. Then, when the settlement is finally reached, the money may not be enough to cover all the bills. The attorney and the client are left in the awkward situation of going to each of the medical providers and asking them to reduce their bills, despite the letters of protection. The client, ultimately, may be left responsible for making up any shortfall.

Do You Need a Letter of Protection?

If you have been injured in an auto accident or some other personal injury accident in or around Montgomery County, Maryland, and if you are wondering whether you need a letter of protection, you should confer with a personal injury attorney in Silver Spring to have your case evaluated.

The Montero Law Group is a firm of experienced personal injury attorneys. We have successfully negotiated many settlements with insurance carriers and have also successfully won many verdicts in Maryland courts representing personal injury plaintiffs.

If you wish to discuss a letter of protection with a lawyer in Silver Spring, contact us today for an appointment. We understand the law and the finances of settlements and medical bills. We are ready to help you achieve the fullest and fairest possible result.