Anyone in business has a duty to provide adequate service to the customer or client. This is especially important when the business is a medical provider. You can’t provide services that result in a dead customer more often than not and expect that you won’t be sued. Even so, businesses have always gone out of their way to avoid legal consequences by asking customers and clients to sign sometimes-binding legal agreements before a service is provided.
Hospitals sometimes ask patients to sign a “letter of protection” to make it more likely they will be paid.
Patient Jean Louis-Charles was in a terrible car accident that left him with a case of chronic back and neck pain. But he was broke. He signed one such letter of protection, agreeing to pay his hospital bills with the payout from the lawsuit against the driver who was at fault during the accident.
He died — not on the operating table, but hours later at home. The debt from the operation was then transferred to his wife.
Most people would acknowledge the flaws in such a protective document, i.e. that they don’t always offer protection at all — especially when the operation leads to death. Subsequent medical malpractice cases afterward are common when loved ones of the deceased individual are burdened with unfair debt.
Marien Julien (Louis-Charles’s wife) sued the surgeon who performed the operation for negligence, including failing to recognize the signs of post-operative complications.
On her husband’s death, Julien asked, “How can you find words to explain such a thing? It’s been almost two years now. I have not been able to sleep on [the] bed.”
The lawsuit was eventually settled confidentially, although the doctor who performed the operation has continued to deny all liability.
Lawyer Lauren McBride said, “The sole purpose of the LOP, why it exists, is to drive up verdicts and settlements.”
Before accepting an LOP, you should always discuss alternatives with a lawyer.