I have had occasion to speak with physicians that treat auto accident injuries and have noticed a common theme when it comes to hiring a lawyer. The physician may suggest to their patient that perhaps they should hire a lawyer. The patient often responds with "I don't want to sue anyone" or "I can handle it myself".
This response by the patient indicates that either the patient does not understand what a personal injury lawyer can do to help them, thinks it will cost them money to have a lawyer, or mistakenly believes that the lawyer will immediately file a lawsuit.
Probably the number one reason to hire a car accident lawyer is summed up in three letters, LOP.
Perhaps most people dont know what an LOP is, or why they need one. LOP stands for letter of protection and it is a written agreement between a lawyer and the clients medical provider(s) promising to pay the clients medical bill(s) out of any bodily injury settlement that the lawyer obtains for his client.
In light of the new PIP law in Florida, the LOP is going to be even more relevant and necessary. Under the new PIP law, it possible that you no longer have $10,000 in medical benefits, and your PIP may only cover $2,500 in medical bills in certain situations.
Medical providers such as Chiropractors, MRI facilities, MD's, Orthopedic doctors, and others used to rely on PIP for payment of their bills. Under the new PIP law, these medical providers may not be able to rely on PIP paying them, and unless they have some assurance of being paid, may require the patient (accident victim) to pay them up front, or even turn them away.
The assurance of being paid comes in the form of a letter of protection provided by the attorney to the doctor, promising to pay the unpaid medical bills out of any bodily injury settlement that the lawyer is able to achieve on behalf of the client.
The patient is not able to issue their own LOP to the doctor, since the patient already owes the medical bill, their additional promise to pay is meaningless. Only an attorney can issue an LOP to the medical provider.
So when a person decides to go it alone, and not hire an attorney, they may be faced with having to pay their doctors up front, or even risk being turned away by medical providers who fear that they won't get paid.
In addition, there is a laundry list of things that a personal injury lawyer can do for an accident victim, in no particular order:
1. Assisting with property damage repairs or total loss of your vehicle
2. Negotiation for dimished value of your damaged vehicle
3. Obtaining a rental vehicle while your vehicle is being repaired
4. Obtaining compensation for your lost wages
5. Obtaining payment for your medical bills
6. Coordination of your PIP benefits
7. Making sure all medical bills are paid by the end of your case
8. Resolving all liens from medicare, medicaid, health insurance, medpay and all other collateral sources
9. Obtaining compensation for bodily injury, pain and suffering
10. Obtaining compensation for miles driven
11. Obtaining compensation for a permanent injury
12. Obtaining compensation for your spouses loss of consortium
13. Filing a Civil Remedies notice
14. Filing a lawsuit
15. Attending a presuit mediation
16. Completing an accident investigation, obtain the police report, take scene photos
17. Taking photos of property damage and injuries
18. Obtaining medical bills, liens, PIP logs, medicare liens, medicaid liens, and medpay liens
19. Providing legal advice on your options and settlement offers
20. Negotiating a satisfactory settlement for your bodily injury
21. Issuing a letter of protection to medical providers
Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee, meaning that they provide the above services for their clinet and only get paid a percentage of the bodily injury settlement. That pecentatge is specified by the Florida Bar and all lawyers handling contingency fees must comply with that fee structure. Often you see lawyers advertising that they don't make anything unless you win, or claiming "you pay nothing if you hire them" which is really misleading since all lawyers must adhere to the same fee structure on contingency fee cases.
If you have been in an auto accident, an accident lawyer is going to be essential in light of the new PIP law. Unless you are skilled in law, insurance, and negotiation, handling all of the things a lawyer can do for you is going to be difficult at best.
For more information or for a free consultation, contact Scott and Fenderson, PA Injury and Family Law Attorneys, by calling 727-321-0099 or view our web site www.scottandfenderson.com