As a doctor who treats patients injured in an accident, whether it be an auto accident, a boating accident or what have you, the primary concern of course is that the patient gets better and receives the right treatment for his/her injuries. The second concern is how you are paid for your services rendered.
There are many options for payment:
In the case of an automobile accident, the primary insurance is supposed to be Personal Injury Protection (PIP). If PIP is exhausted, health insurance will take over.
In the case of a slip and fall accident, sometimes the area where the patient fell will have a medical payment policy that will pay a portion of the bill. The secondary payment method would be health insurance.
A much-used option by physicians is the method of creating a contract between the patient and doctor, which allows the doctor to place a lien on any funds the patient receives in a personal injury case. These liens are commonly called Bodily Injury Liens, and under the law of the State of Florida, they’re called Letters of Protection (LOP). To properly utilize and enforce letters of protection, the doctor must understand the rights under the law of the Florida Bar as well as the number of cases spoken to this issue.
In final analysis, an LOP is a contract between a patient and doctor. The attorney representing the patient is the employee (servant) of the patient (employer or master). Under the law of master/servant in Florida, a lawyer is not permitted to obey any lawful commitment of the master with relation to personal injury funds due to the master. Therefore, success argued in Florida courts that if the LOP properly directs the attorney as an employee of the patient to pay the doctor those sums due to the doctor at the end of a personal injury case, the lawyer is obligated to obey under the law of Constructive Trust. The lawyer can be held accountable for releasing funds against virtue of the patient/doctor wishes even if the lawyer has never signed or was not a party to the original execution of the LOP.
It’s incumbent on the doctor to find competent legal counsel to create and draft the letter of protection, which will protect the bill with only the patient’s signature. It’s also incumbent on the doctor to place the patient’s lawyer on formal notice of this letter of protection by facsimile copy or by mailing a copy to the lawyer’s office. If the patient switches lawyers in the middle of case, it’s again incumbent on the doctor to advise the new attorney of the LOP.
It does not appear under the law of Florida that neither attorney must do more than acknowledge that the LOP exists to be liable or responsible under the LOP for paying the doctor. Because there is no legal necessity to have an attorney sign a letter of protection, it is the LaBovick Law Group’s position and policy to abide by the properly worded LOP but never include ourselves in the same letter of protection.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the LaBovick Law Group at 1-888-777-3884 or schedule a free initial consultation with an experienced lawyer regarding a personal injury or letter of protection matter in Palm Beach County, Broward County, Miami-Dade County, St. Lucie County, Martin County or anywhere in the state of Florida.