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Letter of Protection; It’s not “free money”

As many of you know I practice in the area of injury law. I’m one of a very select few (approximately 1% of Florida lawyers) who is Florida Bar Board Certified in Civil Trial law. As such I can call myself an expert or specialist. If a lawyer makes this claim and is not Board Certified they can be sanctioned or suspended by the Florida Bar. Occasionally I’ll try to educate you in the law; hopefully you’ll find it of interest. Today like many days I received a fax from a medical provider asking for a letter of protection, commonly referred to as an LOP. An LOP is actually a document that ensures the medical provider once a claim is settled I as the lawyer will satisfy the outstanding medical bill; with the client’s money of course. This allows the client/patient to obtain medical treatment they would not otherwise obtain. Sounds great? As with all things they’re abuses! Many medical providers are requesting LOP’s instead of billing secondary insurances such as health insurance. Why? This is so they can collect more $$. Many health insurances restrict or deeply discount these fees. Unethical lawyers agree to this as it might increase their fee and make the medical provider happy and then send the lawyer referrals. In reality a LOP is a blank check. Of course it’s a useful tool to help a client get the medical care they need, but they must be given only to ethical providers who are not gaming the system. Of course insurance companies have discovered this also. There is recent case law in Florida that allows for an insurance company to discover and place before a jury the financial relationship between your doctor and your lawyer. This could be very persuasive if you retain a high volume mass advertising lawyer. Jurors have become very suspicious of injury claimants; add financial incentives between the doctor and lawyer revealing dozens if not hundreds of times per year, you decide if it could destroy your otherwise valid claim. I promise to never place my financial gain before what is in your best interest. I really enjoy helping clients who call me because they’ve been told by a former client how hard I worked on their file. Please help me to continue this “word of mouth” business model. Law Office of Steven G. Lavely