Letters of Protection: What They Are and Why They Matter, With Napoli Shkolnik

In 2018 alone, the CDC reports that 2.2 million drivers and passengers were taken to the emergency room as the direct result of an auto accident. On average, hospital bills for these injuries exceed $60,000. After an accident, many drivers (rightfully) expect that their health insurance provider will cover the costs of their injuries.

But as Marie Napoli, founding partner at Napoli Shkolnik, a national law firm focused on personal injury law and pharmaceutical litigation explains, drivers and passengers hoping their insurance will fully cover their expenses are often out of luck.

For individuals who don’t have insurance coverage, the situation could be even more dire. In such circumstances, a letter of protection can make all the difference.

What Is a Letter of Protection?

“A letter of protection is a letter that a personal injury victim’s lawyer sends to the medical professional who provided treatment,” Napoli explains. “This is a legally binding document that guarantees that payment will be made for the treatment the individual has received — generally as the result of a settlement or verdict award from a pending personal injury lawsuit.”

The letter of protection guarantees that the medical provider will be paid, regardless of the outcome of the case. After a personal injury trial has concluded, the medical bills are paid from the settlement amount. No payments are made until the conclusion of the case.

“Letters of protection give attorneys valuable leverage in negotiations,” Napoli adds. “This enables them to reduce the amount owed for a plaintiff’s medical expenses, so that victims of car crashes and other incidents can keep more of their settlement amount.”

The letter of protection is a binding contract between the injured party, their attorney and the healthcare provider. While the attorney will write and submit the letter and negotiate payments, the injured party is still the one who is ultimately responsible for covering the bills — whether through insurance, settlement winnings or other means.

Why Are Letters of Protection Needed?

Letters of protection are primarily needed due to the complicated disputes that can arise between insurance providers in the wake of auto accidents and workplace injuries.

“After a car accident, you’ll sometimes see an individual’s health insurance provider refusing to pay the bill, because they want the responsible party’s auto insurance provider to pay,” Napoli notes.

“However, auto insurance providers generally expect individuals to pay for their care and then submit their medical expenses to determine a settlement amount. The problem, of course, is that the cost of hospital bills can quickly add up to be well beyond what the average person can reasonably afford.”

With a letter of protection, payments are not required upfront, so injured individuals can proceed with their care regardless of any ongoing disputes between insurance companies.

Similar issues can also arise in work-related incidents. The health insurance company may try to have the employer’s workers compensation provider or the insurance provider for the property pay the bills instead.

These disputes can result in delays in paying the injured person’s medical bills — and in some cases, could even prevent individuals from receiving follow-up care when payment is required at the time of service.

“Because a letter of protection guarantees that payment will come in the future, injured individuals can move forward in obtaining medical care they would otherwise be unable to afford,” Napoli says. “This isn’t just a financial issue — it’s something that can have a significant impact on their long-term health and well-being.”

Letters of Protection for Individuals Without Insurance

Napoli also notes that letters of protection can be especially important for individuals who don’t have health insurance coverage. While the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was designed to reduce the number of people without health insurance, the U.S. Census Bureau reports that in 2020, 28 million people (8.6 percent of U.S. citizens) did not carry health insurance at any point.

For someone who lacks health insurance, this can quickly lead to major financial trouble.

“Aside from the bill for simply visiting the emergency room, patients often incur additional expenses from tests like X-rays and CT scans, surgeries and medical prescriptions. When a person can’t afford these bills and the hospital refuses to negotiate a payment plan, the bill could be sent to collections, causing significant damage to their credit score. A letter of protection ensures that this doesn’t happen.”

As with an individual who has insurance coverage, the letter of protection ensures that the injured party won’t be responsible for making any payments until after their case is resolved.

Protecting Your Financial Future

“Dealing with the aftermath of an auto accident or workplace injury is already stressful enough,” Napoli says. “No one wants to deal with fighting their insurance companies or worrying about how they’ll cover expensive medical bills while awaiting the outcome of a personal injury case. Taking the simple step of getting a letter of protection from your attorney will provide much-needed peace of mind.”

With the help of this legally binding document, injured individuals can focus on their recovery, rather than how they will cover bills before a settlement payout arrives. Regardless of an injured party’s insurance coverage status, enlisting the help of a qualified attorney to submit a letter of protection is an important consideration as their case is processed.

Media Details

Company Name: Napoli Shkolnik PLLC

Email: mhayashi@napolilaw.com

City: New York, NY

Country: USA