As a doctor who treats patients injured in accidents, your 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.
How Doctors Get Paid
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 establishment 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.
What is a Letter of Protection?
An Letter of Protection, or 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 LaBovick Law Group position and policy to abide by the properly worded LOP but never include ourselves in the same letter of protection.
Legal Options for Health Care Providers
LaBovick Law Group possesses the experience and knowledge to offer Florida health care providers an array of representation services. We have the experience meeting the diverse needs of providers, and we pride ourselves on our ability to handle matters promptly and cost-effectively. Our services include, but are not limited to:
• HIPAA/HITECH compliance
• HIPAA Audit Preparation & Risk Assessments
• Internal Compliance Program Development
• HIPAA/HITECH Policies & Procedures Development
• STARK and Anti-kickback Disputes
• Physician Contracting
• Consulting Arrangements & Clinical Trial Agreements
• Nondisclosure Agreements
• Medical Board, Credentialing and Hospital Privilege disputes
• Federal & State False Claims Act defense
Our dedication to providers does not stop in the courtroom, as we also counsel and guide providers and facilities through the complex myriad of federal and state regulations. This includes regulatory developments in health reform’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and the increased transparency requirements outlined in the PPACA’s Physician Payment Sunshine Act.
If you have any questions regarding any of these matters or to learn more about how the LaBovick Law Group can assist your organization, feel free to contact us any time at 561-655-1777, or fill out our contact form. We have main offices in Palm Beach Gardens and Lake Worth, and we have offices available for consultation in Stuart and Boca Raton.