New PIP Law Increases the Need For a Letter of Projection
A letter of protection is a document signed by both the lawyer and the client/patient to a medical provider. The letter states that the patient does not have adequate funding at the current time to cover medical service, but they are represented by counsel and are involved in a personal injury case. The attorney promises that funds will be deducted from the settlement and paid to the medical provider before paying the client. It allows the patient to continue with their medical treatment, and also allows the doctor to stop bothering the patient for the payment. But, if there is no recovery made - the client/patient will still owe the medical provider money for medical services rendered. The Florida Legislature has enacted a new Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Statute that takes effect January 1, 2013, and it severely limits your rights to obtain benefits. Your PIP insurance will only allow for $10,000.00 in medical treatment if two criteria are met. The first is that you have an emergency medical condition, and the second is that you see an approved medical provider within 14 days after the accident. Otherwise, you will only be able to claim $2,500.00 for treatment. Also, any follow-up treatment must be prescribed, and be consistent with the underlying medical diagnosis rendered on the initial visit. If you don't have a personal injury attorney, the medical provider will not accept a letter of protection from you personally. That’s why a lawyer’s letter of protection will become even more important once this new PIP law goes into effect. For example; let’s say at the time of the initial diagnosis (after a car accident) you go to the emergency room, and you forget to mention the fact that your knee is hurting because your primary pain is for a back injury. Two weeks later your knee is still hurting; but after you go to your doctor for follow-up treatment, your insurance company tells you they won’t pay because your knee was not part of the initial diagnosis. With a letter of protection, your doctor will be able to treat your knee, and will get paid after the accident claim is settled. However, your lawyer should not issue a letter of protection unless you agree and authorize your lawyer to issue such a letter. If for some reason your case is not settled, you will be still responsible for paying your medical bills. Another common situation in which letters of protection are needed includes auto accidents where medical bills exceed $10,000.00 in PIP benefits, and for motorcycle accidents or premises liability cases where there is no PIP insurance available. In those situations, without health insurance or a letter of protection from an attorney, the injured client would have little chance of receiving care for his or her injuries. Sometimes an experienced personal injury lawyer can negotiate a dispute between a medical provider and a client/patient; or they can get the provider to agree to lower the amount of the bill. That’s why it’s imperative that you hire a reputable and experienced personal injury attorney if you are hurt in Florida car accident. To speak with a Miami car accident lawyer, about these or other issue call 800.379.TEAM and ask for Jason Neufeldor email at [email protected].