Visitor Question

Can my lawyer pay medical bills with my settlement check?

Submitted By: Anonymous (USA)

I did not get enough in my PIP settlement check to cover all my medical expenses in my auto accident case. Now my lawyer is holding my check for a week to ten days making arrangements on my medical bills. Who pays them me or him?

I have household help and attendant care which I also have to pay out of the settlement, so I can’t have him cut into that check. I will have to adjust the payments myself. Please tell me he does not have the right to take from my check off the top. It’s my check right? I should be able to write these checks out in my own time to my own doctors.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear Anonymous,

Personal Injury Attorneys handle personal injury settlement amounts in different ways. To know what your rights and obligations are relative to the personal injury case and the settlement amount read the contract you signed when you first retained your attorney.

The contract controls your actions as well as your attorney’s. It enumerates your rights, especially as they relate to the dispersing of the settlement proceeds.

In addition, your personal injury attorney may have executed what are referred to as Letters of Protection or “LOP’s”. LOP’s are written legal agreements between your attorney and the medical providers who offered their care and treatment to you during the personal injury case, and did so without requiring payment at the time of treatment. Instead, the LOP states the medical provider agrees to wait for payment until the case settles or is won at trial. At that time the LOP requires the attorney to pay the medical bills before your are paid.

The LOP issue should have been either in the contract you signed, or discussed with you during your case. If you don’t think the attorney covered that matter in the contract or through his discussions with you during the case you have a right to be concerned. Ask him why he decided to pay your medical creditors before he paid you. Your concern may not go much further than a discussion because the doctors have to be paid and the attorney has a right to protect himself and the doctors he has dealt with.

There isn’t any fraud. It’s usually just a matter of fairness.

Best of luck,

Law Guy

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: October 14, 2011

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