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Who Pays Your Medical Bills After Personal Injury Protection Runs Out?

Good Morning, I’m Marcus Michles, and thanks for joining us for today’s installment of our video blog. We’re here at the Pensacola law office of Michles and Booth. Where we’ve been here for a while now, haven’t we Blake? Got my guy behind the scenes, camera guy, Blake. We don’t give him enough credit for what goes on here in the video blog. We’re going to give him a little shout out this morning.

I want to talk to you something that is always on the minds of the personal injury clients that I’ve had for 30 years. They all have the same concern initially, and it’s a valid concern. And that is, how am I going to get my bills paid?

If you’ve been in a car accident, and you go by ambulance to the emergency room, within a week you’re going to start getting bills, and you’re going to be wondering almost instantly, whose going to pay these bills?

Now if you look on our site, and you got to the archives for these video blogs, you’ll find me talking about personal injury protection, which is PIP, or the No Fault Statute in Florida.

PIP provides $10,000.00 in healthcare benefits, to you, regardless of fault. If you caused the accident, you still get $10,000.00 in coverage, and I direct you back to the archives to talk about that or to look that up. Or you can give me a call and I’ll explain it to you then.

For today’s purposes, we’re going to ask, and try to answer, what happens after that $10,000.00?

What happens after your personal injury protection coverage runs out?

I mean, you know, if you’ve gone to the emergency room, and you go in, particularly if you went by ambulance, that $10,000.00 went pretty fast. And what if you don’t have health insurance? How do you get healthcare?

Well one of the benefits to hiring a personal injury lawyer, and not all personal injury lawyers are created equal, but if you get a good one, and there are a lot of good ones out there, but if you get a good one, they’ll explain to you that often times healthcare providers will treat you for your injuries. And do it on what’s called a letter of protection. A letter of protection is just a fancy way of saying an IOU.

Maybe you’re too old to remember this, but if you see the old card games being played and guys will write out on a piece of paper and put it in the center of the pot – that’s an IOU a certain amount of money. Well, there’s the similar concept in an LOP, a letter of protection, that doctors and lawyers and personal injury clients sign.

How can a letter of protection help me?

A letter of protection says that, when the case is settled, some of the proceeds in that case will go directly to the healthcare provider to pay them back for the services they provided.

Now many, many healthcare providers don’t accept letters of protection; that’s one of the reasons that you should shop carefully for an attorney. A lot of the time, the treatment that you receive and the availability to get an LOP is dependent upon the relationship between your lawyer and the medical community.

In other words, if you come see me, I’ve been doing this for a long time – over 30 years; and I know a lot of medical doctors and a lot of medical providers and this community, as does our whole law firm.

So when we call them and say, listen, we’ve got a patient here that needs to be seen for headaches or back pain or neck pain, or what have you and we call the right specialist, we can talk them through the case, explain to them what the likelihood of the case resolving favorably is.

We will have looked at the insurance available; we’ll make a representation to the healthcare provider of what the likelihood is of success, and that allows the healthcare provider to determine whether to gamble, in a sense, their time and their resources on the promise to be paid at the end of the case.

Now there are no guarantees, but the better the lawyer is, the better the lawyer should be at recognizing and evaluating the likelihood of success. Now if you think about it from simply human relationships standpoints, if I have a client that needs to see a neurosurgeon and I call the neurosurgeon, and I say, “Hey, I need you see this patient whose got the bad problem.”

Now, if I send them the patient, they might end up do thousands of dollars worth of care, maybe even tens of thousands of dollars if it’s a neurosurgeon, and surgeries are required.

If I can’t successfully resolve the claim down the road, I’ve saddled the doctor with thousands of dollars in uncollectible bills. And I’ve saddled the patient, or my client, with thousands of dollars in debt, owing to pay those bills. Not a very happy outcome right?

How to choose a personal injury lawyer?

So, it’s dependent upon my ability to evaluate the case and predict the variables that will lead to success, so that I don’t saddle the healthcare provider with an uncollectible treatment bill. And I don’t saddle my client, or the patient, with an unpayable medical bill.

So there’s a lot of variables that of into that. That’s why, at the end of these things, I often tell you that same thing:

When you choose your lawyer choose them carefully.

One of the ways that you can tell a lawyer from another, is obviously to ask around and look at online reviews, and use the tools that you would ordinarily use. But one of the ways, that I like, is, just look a the board certification of the lawyer.

All lawyers take a Florida Bar Exam, it’s not an easy test to pass. You got to go to law school, it’s not that hard, it’s not that easy, but it takes time.

However, not every lawyer, in fact very few – last time I checked there were only about 50 of us in this community – are board certified by the Florida Bar. That’s an additional level of certification.

I feel comfortable recommending it to anyone, that if they seek out and use a board certified civil lawyer, they’re making a good choice. Not just us, not just me, but anywhere in the community.

When you find board certified civil trial lawyers in your area, then you’ve got to rely on some subtleties in choosing which lawyer to hire. And one of the very important things I would add is this:

Sit down with your lawyer. Interview the lawyer. Feel comfortable with the lawyer before you hire them. It’s just a human relationship and it’s a professional relationship that requires some instinct and some gut feeling. If you don’t have the right lawyer, you’re making a bad decision, and you should know that at the time.

Well that’s all we’ve got for today. If you’ve got questions about letters of protection or how to get your bills paid, give me a call, I’ll be happy to answer them. If you can find our website at, dontbeavictim.com/blog, you’ll find our videos archived and Blake hard work put together there, and we’ll see you next week.

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