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Understanding the Letter of Protection (LOP)

In the realm of personal injury law and medical treatment, the Letter of Protection (LOP) stands out as a pivotal document. It serves as a bridge between legal proceedings and healthcare, ensuring that injured parties receive the necessary medical care without the immediate burden of payment.

This article delves into the essence of an LOP, exploring its legal standing, operational mechanics, and addressing frequently asked questions to demystify its role and importance.

man signing letter of protection

What is a Letter of Protection?

A Letter of Protection is a document issued by an attorney on behalf of a client who is awaiting a settlement or judgment from a personal injury lawsuit. It is a promise to medical providers that payment for services rendered to the client will be made from the proceeds of the client's legal claim. Essentially, an LOP allows patients to receive medical treatment without upfront payment, on the understanding that the healthcare provider will be compensated from the settlement or award.

Legal Binding Nature of LOPs

An LOP is legally binding in the sense that it creates a contractual obligation between the attorney (and their client) and the healthcare provider. Once an LOP is accepted by a provider, it binds them to the terms outlined within the document. This typically means the provider agrees to defer payment until the legal case resolves. However, the specific enforceability of LOPs can vary by jurisdiction and is contingent upon the terms of the agreement and the parties involved.

How Do LOPs Work?

The process of utilizing an LOP involves several key steps:

  1. Issuance: After sustaining injuries, a client may seek an attorney’s help for a personal injury claim. If the client needs medical treatment but cannot afford to pay out-of-pocket or lacks insurance, the attorney may issue an LOP to the healthcare provider.
  2. Acceptance: The healthcare provider must agree to accept the LOP. This agreement means the provider trusts the legal process to yield a favorable outcome that includes adequate compensation for their services.
  3. Treatment: The client receives the necessary medical care without immediate payment.
  4. Settlement: Once the legal case is settled or a judgment is awarded, the attorney ensures that the healthcare provider is paid from the proceeds before the client receives their portion.

FAQs About Letters of Protection

Is an LOP always accepted by healthcare providers?

Not necessarily. Acceptance of an LOP is at the discretion of the healthcare provider. Providers may consider the strength of the legal case, the reputation of the attorney, and their own policies before agreeing to an LOP.

Does an LOP affect the amount a healthcare provider can charge?

Typically, the terms of an LOP, including the amount charged by the healthcare provider, are negotiated between the provider and the attorney. In some cases, providers may charge their usual rates, but they might also agree to reduced rates based on the anticipation of delayed payment.

Can an LOP be cancelled?

Cancelling an LOP is generally not straightforward and depends on the terms of the agreement between the attorney, the client, and the healthcare provider. If the legal case does not result in a settlement or award, the responsibility for payment may revert to the client, depending on the agreement's terms.

What happens if the settlement is lower than expected?

If the settlement or judgment is lower than expected, the attorney may negotiate with the healthcare providers to accept a reduced payment. This negotiation is dependent on the initial agreement and the goodwill between the parties involved.

Is there a risk to the patient?

While an LOP enables patients to receive necessary medical treatment, there is a risk. If the legal case is unsuccessful, or the settlement does not fully cover medical costs, the patient may be responsible for the outstanding amount, depending on the terms of the LOP.


Letters of Protection play a crucial role in bridging the gap between receiving medical care and the resolution of personal injury lawsuits. They are legally binding agreements that allow patients to defer payment for medical services until their legal claim is resolved. While they offer a pathway to necessary treatment for those unable to afford upfront costs, both patients and healthcare providers should carefully consider the terms and implications of an LOP. Understanding the nuances of LOPs, including their benefits and potential risks, is essential for all parties involved in the intersection of healthcare and legal claims.

The information is provided for educational and informational purposes only. Such information or materials do not constitute and are not intended to provide legal, accounting, or tax advice and should not be relied on in that respect. We suggest that You consult an attorney, accountant, and/or financial advisor to answer any financial or legal questions.

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