What You Need to Know About LOPs- Don’t Get Screwed
Lawyers and Letters of Protection- the RULE BOOK
Sorry I havenÕt posted any good content in a couple of weeksÐ I just got back from my honeymoon!
Have you treated a patient under a Letter of Protection hoping to get paid when the case settles?
Did the case settle and the lawyer never paid your bills?
Then this blog post is for you!
There are two important rules about Letters of Protections that lawyers must follow:
- Contract law (the Letter of Protection is a contract)
- Ethical rule (Florida Bar Rule 5-1.1)
A Letter of Protection is a contract. Contract law only applies if the lawyer signed the Letter of Protection. Just having the patient sign the LOP does not create a contract between the doctor and the lawyer. If the lawyer signed the LOP then the lawyer can be sued if he/she doesnÕt pay/negotiate the bills. If you want to get paid (and there is no PIP or health insurance) then the doctorÕs safest route is to get the lawyer to sign the LOP or refuse to treat the patient.
If a doctor and a lawyer have a relationship and the lawyer has paid bills in the past then IÕm all for a ÒgentlemanÕs agreement.Ó But if you donÕt know the lawyer or they have a bad reputation then CYA and get it in writing.
Lawyers who sign an LOP and then donÕt pay the bills have been punished by the Florida Bar.
Florida Bar Rule 5-1.1 (formerly 4-1.15) states:
Upon receiving funds or other property in which a client orthird person has an interest, a lawyer shall promptly notify the client or third person. Except as stated in this rule or otherwise permitted by law or by agreement with the client, a lawyer shall promptly deliver to the client or third person any funds or other property that the client or third person is entitled to receive and, upon request by the client or third person, shall promptly render a full accounting regarding such property.
I interpret Rule 5-1.1 to ethically obligate a lawyer to pay bills even if they donÕt sign an LOP (but you donÕt have as strong a case). So even if the lawyer doesnÕt sign the LOP he/she will still need to file an Interpleader action and ask the court to decide if your bills should be paid.
My office represents doctors and other medical providers for non-payment of bills. If you have a question about a Letter of Protection thencall my office at 888-948-2144.