Agruss Law Firm & Personal Injury Cases

Frankie: Mike. Hi, Mike. Hi, Ms. Taylor, and hi, ND. Please.

ND Chris: Hello, Mrs. Taylor and Mike. Welcome to the Vietnamese talk show, especially on the [SDM 1040] television. Please say hello to the audience and our clients.

Mike Agruss: Sure. Thanks for having us on. It's good to see both of you. It's nice to meet you.

ND Chris: Yeah, nice to meet you.

Mike Agruss: My name is Mike Agruss. I'm the managing partner of Agruss Law Firm. We do consumer rights and personal injury. This March, the firm will have been around for 10 years, and I've been practicing as an attorney for 17 years. And Taylor and I are partners.

Taylor Kosla: And I've been at Agruss Law Firm since before I was actually an attorney. I'm going on about four years of being an attorney, and I handle all the same cases that Mike does.

ND Chris: Yes. Okay. Thank you so much. We are glad that you are here today because there is so many questions our clients and our people, the Vietnamese... in our community, we have many questions that relate to the law, especially in injury. Every time people, they're dealing with an accident, for example, they hesitate to asking, "Okay, what questions should be asked? And, what can a law firm can protect them, do for them?" We have a few questions. Hopefully you don't mind to share with our community and your new audience as well. Okay?

The first question I'm interested about, your law firm, Agruss, what and how does Agruss firm can protect your client, the people?

Frankie: [Vietnamese].

ND Chris: I'll repeat the question for two of you.

Mike Agruss: Sure.

ND Chris: What and how is Agruss Law Firm can protect its clients?

Mike Agruss: Sure. So, I'll take the first crack at this, and then if Taylor wants to jump in, I'll have her add. So, in general, we have a people first philosophy at our office. And so, it's much different than a lot of other law firms. So, we look at our clients first, and we take this approach of treating clients like you would family, friends, neighbors. And it's a different approach, and when I started the firm about 10 years ago, what I wanted to do is sort of shake up the way personal injury law firms operate. I worked at other firms. I saw what worked and what didn't work, and one of the biggest things that I saw that I thought that I wanted to do differently was take the approach of it's all about our clients.

And every single client that we represent, we treat them family, friends, and neighbors. None of it is about us. It's all about our clients and how we can help people. And so, to give you an example on the personal injury side of things, when someone comes to us with a car accident, for example, we help with everything. We're not just interested in, "Oh, we'll take your personal injury case and deal with that." What we do is we help with medical treatment and make sure people are getting medical treatment. We make sure that the property damage claim is taken care of. We make sure that people are going to their appointments, seeing the doctors that they need to see. And we allow our clients to take care of themselves while we handle all of the busy work on the backend.

So, it's all about clients, it's all about making sure they're getting the proper treatment, and then we deal with insurance companies, we deal with the police report, we deal with medical treatment, we deal with ordering records and bills, and all of that stuff, so our clients can just focus on getting better.

Frankie: [Vietnamese].

ND Chris: Your answer is very interesting and is very clear, the client, the people, they understand, okay, your role and then your involvement, okay, what you're supposed to do again. I've got another question related to the trust. What does a person at your law firm do to gain the trust from clients?

Frankie: [Vietnamese].

Mike Agruss: And I'm going to have Taylor answer this one, and before Taylor does, I wanted to... I think this is a good segue because we talked about this people first philosophy, and I want to explain this because I really do think this makes us stand out from... There's 1.3 million lawyers in America, so there's some competition.

ND Chris: Oh, wow, that's some big competition.

Mike Agruss: There's a lot of competition.

ND Chris: Yeah, there's a lot.

Mike Agruss: Yes. What makes us different, not only is it the way we treat our clients, but it's also something we do internally, and I feel this the same way too with everyone that we work with. And so, Taylor, who's going to answer the next question, is a perfect example of this people first philosophy, both with clients, but also we all share this similar philosophy. So, Taylor was an attorney at my office for about three years and then became a partner. So, it's very unheard of at small law firms. And so, when I see someone and when Taylor sees someone who's really good, who shares this philosophy, we want to make sure that they're part of our firm and becoming a partner and will allow us to carry out this philosophy with our clients. So, anyway, it's both with our clients and it's both internally. It's not just me who thinks this way. And when Taylor started, I knew right away that she shared the same ideas that I have and the way I want to run things. And so, that's why she became a partner after being at the office for only three years.

ND Chris: Okay.

Frankie: Yeah. [Vietnamese].

ND Chris: Do you need to repeat the question?

Taylor Kosla: Oh, how do we build trust with our clients?

ND Chris: Yes. Okay.

Taylor Kosla: Well, I think it's like any relationship. We build it through communication. So, right when we sign up a client or even just start interacting with them, the client's immediately introduced to our team, and Mike said, our team all has the same philosophy of helping people. So, as soon as someone's in an accident, whatever they need help with, they know that they can reach out to us. "My car's damaged. Where can I get it repaired? How quickly can I get it repaired?" We'll help facilitate that for them. "I need to go to a physical therapist. I need to see a doctor." Our clients come to us, and we assure them that we can find someone who will treat them even if they don't have health insurance.

So, the way that we really build trust, it's with open line of communications, but we also follow through with what we're communicating to our clients, that promise that we're going to put them first and get them the treatment, the care that they need. And the reason for this is because we are result driven. Our goal is to put our clients first, from the beginning of the case all the way through. A lot of personal injury firms are actually referral law firms, which is essentially a marketing law firm.

ND Chris: Right. Yeah.

Taylor Kosla: So, they might sign you up, but they're going to send your case somewhere else. Our clients stay with us from day one. They're constantly in communication with us. They know who's on the team. There's usually at least three people working on every case. And our clients love it. You can really look at our online reviews. They speak for themselves. They trust us. They come back to us. They refer us to their family, friends, and neighbors, and that is the biggest compliment that we can get as attorneys.

ND Chris: Right. Okay.

Frankie: [Vietnamese].

ND Chris: Thank you for your answer. That's very clear, and I believe everyone understand clearly, and they trust your law firm because you take care from A to Z, right? Yeah, everything should be clear from the process, as in what to do, and you show exactly your ability what to protect them, what to do.

Taylor Kosla: One thing I actually forgot to mention is our fee as well. So, we take a one-third contingency fee, but what is unique about our firm is it never changes. A lot of firms out there, that free will increase after filing, going to trial. That fee could go up to 40%, 50%.

ND Chris: Right.

Taylor Kosla: One-third, always, from the beginning through the end of the case, and that again just shows that we care about our clients and what they're netting, what they're going to put in their pocket, to make them whole.

ND Chris: Wow. That's perfect.

Frankie: [Vietnamese].

ND Chris: Do you want to add something?

Mike Agruss: I did, and frankly-

ND Chris: Yes. Thank you. [crosstalk].

Mike Agruss: Thank you. You saw me wanting to chime in, because I feel like this is such an important topic, because let's be honest, people don't like lawyers, right? They don't.

ND Chris: Especially saying, okay, what happened, right? Everybody need some people to help them get [inaudible] and law integration, right? So, I think, okay, we need some expertise to understand and to enforce, to help them to clear the problem. Okay, please go ahead.

Mike Agruss: Right. So, I always say that everyone hates lawyers until you need one.

ND Chris: Right.

Mike Agruss: Anyway, but I really want to stress this point that Taylor brought up because I think it's so important, and I've seen this a bunch, especially with people who aren't born in the US and come here, or maybe English isn't their first language, and they're not familiar with our legal system. And I think that some of the viewers, most of the viewers, watching this should could really appreciate this. Where I see other plaintiffs' attorneys who... I don't want to say take advantage of the situation, but they'll have just astronomical attorney's fee, like a contingency fee that's 50%. And don't get me wrong, there may be a situation where that is appropriate, in a real unusual... maybe a big medical malpractice case. But anyway, there are a lot of attorneys here in Chicago unfortunately who will charge 40%, 50%, because their clients aren't familiar with the system. And I really think that that's a big thing about our firm, is honestly, it doesn't change.

So, we just settled a case this week that we've been litigating for five plus years, and we have hundreds of hours in the case, over $10,000 in costs. Our contingency fee is just one-third.

ND Chris: That's very impressive.

Mike Agruss: Yeah. It never changes. So, I really wanted to stress that. And then I also wanted to say, it's easy for Taylor and I to say why you should trust us. I tell people this all the time, you don't have to believe a word that we say. If you go online, look at our reviews, we have over 1,300 five-star reviews. And as I said, there's 1.3 million attorneys in the country, and I would challenge anyone... There are a couple of firms out there who have that many, but it's just very few. And so, you don't have to believe us. You can just go on Google, go on the internet, you can see all of our reviews. And I think that that's important.

Frankie: [Vietnamese]. How much, 130,000 attorneys you say?

Mike Agruss: In the country?

ND Chris: Yes.

Mike Agruss: There are 1.3 million lawyers-

Frankie: In the country.

Mike Agruss: ... in America.

ND Chris: Wow.

Mike Agruss: Yes.

Frankie: Okay.

ND Chris: That's a big number.

Mike Agruss: And a lot of them are here in Chicago.

Frankie: Okay. [Vietnamese].

ND Chris: Good. Thanks so much for your answer and your dedication as a lawyer, because when you mentioned about 1.3 lawyers in the country, and especially they are centralized in Chicago, right? Oh, wow, Chicago got a lot of... the best of lawyer, right? Especially Taylor and Mike, right? I've got another question here, and a lot of people, they can spend a lot... because in United States, everybody got cars, right? They drive a car. First of all, someone is involved into car accident, for example, okay, what is Agruss Law Firm plan to do to help them?

Frankie: [Vietnamese].

Mike Agruss: Do you want me to do this one?

Taylor Kosla: Sure.

Mike Agruss: I'll take it. So, in a car accident case, here's how we help people. We have a system set up in our office where someone contacts us. We immediately start working on the case. We make sure that they are getting treatment. We make sure that we have ordered the police report. One of the most important things we do is we notify everyone involved that we represent them, so the insurance companies aren't calling to try to talk to our clients, because insurance companies want to minimize injuries, they want to minimize damages. We work lightning fast in the beginning, and the way we are able to do this is we just rolled out this year a brand new law firm software that is the best of the best. It's called Litify. It was super expensive and time-consuming to roll out, but the benefits to our clients is the moment they contact them and we enter them into our system, it spits out a bunch of events and tasks to do, and everyone knows what to do, and people start working and helping our clients out immediately.

So, we get the police report, we make sure that they're getting proper treatment, we make sure that they're not talking to insurance companies, we help them with the property damage on their car, and we also make sure that they get treatment right away, which is super important. Taylor and I have spent years working with various doctors and medical groups to develop a network where our clients can go get treatment. I've seen this practicing law for 17 years that that's the most important thing in a personal injury case, is to get treatment right away, and a lot of times, people don't have doctors or they don't have health insurance. So, that's really a big focus of ours, and I know this first-hand. My dad's a retired cardiologist. So, when I need to go see a doctor, I call him, and he gets me in somewhere. So, I understand the sense of urgency, and we treat our clients the exact same way. The moment they contact us, we make sure that they're getting treatment and that they're getting better, and then we handle all the details and all of the nitty gritty headache type stuff.

ND Chris: Okay.

Frankie: [Vietnamese].

ND Chris: Yes. When you mentioned something about the no insurance, and usually the insurance company, they try to minimize your benefit and sometimes they manipulate. They manipulate the rule, the law, all kind of thing. Can you give me some example to make sure... because this topic is a very important topic, and it's very interesting, because people, if they get involved in accident, they're not all right, so they want to, as you said, more... Okay, first of all, when you mentioned if they don't have insurance, what should they say, and what can you recommend them? Or, if the insurance call you, or they call the client, or someone who get involved in the accident, so they're trying to manipulate or get the case, "No, if you don't have this, so you have to pay this," blah, blah, blah. So, what do you recommend?

Taylor Kosla: So, if you're in an accident, the at-fault driver's insurance is who's going to have to pay for the damages, because that's who's liable. So, if you don't have insurance at the time, you can still bring in a case, assuming that the other driver does have insurance. So, that shouldn't deter you from calling an attorney. You can call us. We'll investigate, we'll get a copy of the police report, and see if this is something that we can pursue.

I just mentioned a police report. That's something we haven't addressed, but as soon as you're in an accident, if someone is hurt, you should call 9-1-1. If you feel any injury, you should take an ambulance. You should go straight to the hospital. You want to make sure your injuries and your damages are on record from day one, which is why we keep stressing the importance of working with our network of providers, because those gaps in treatment, those delays in treatment, that's how the insurance company is going to try and minimize the payout.

ND Chris: Okay.

Taylor Kosla: So, that's with respect to auto insurance. Health insurance, that's a big deterrent from our clients wanting to seek treatment. "I don't have health insurance. I can't afford to see the doctor." However, the doctors and providers in our network will do what's called lien the file, and all that means is they'll get paid at the end of the case when it settles. This is huge for our clients. They don't have to worry about the medical bills. They can just focus on getting the treatment they need and getting better, and then once it's done, we can wrap up the case for them.

ND Chris: Great.

Frankie: [Vietnamese].

ND Chris: Yes, that's a very interesting question, because people usually, when they get involved into an accident one day, they just panic. They don't know what to do. And they don't know the question who should calling, and then how to file, or as you mentioned earlier, when you mentioned about lawyer, people, they don't like it, so they say, "No, I'm not going to call the lawyer." But actually, the lawyer is ready to help you when you get involved into an accident, right? There's so many question relate about the car accident, but I move forward because we have plenty of other questions.

Talking about, okay, trusting, when a personal law firm accept a case, usually, what percentage you win the case?

Frankie: [Vietnamese].

Mike Agruss: It's a good question. And when I was preparing to come on today's show, that was probably the toughest question that I was thinking the answer, and I'm sure Taylor likes that with the rotation of the questions that that one landed on me. So-

Frankie: It's a good question. Yeah. Everybody concerned. Everybody concerned.

Taylor Kosla: Everyone wants the numbers.

Frankie: Yes, yes. What can you do for me, you know? How much am I going to get? That's the thing that I get all the time.

Mike Agruss: Right. And then in my mind, I'm also thinking about, I want to make sure that I give an accurate number. Just to give you an idea, so the firm's been around... This March will be 10 years.

Frankie: 10 years? Okay.

Mike Agruss: We have 7,500 cases in our system.

ND Chris: Wow. That's a lot of cases.

Mike Agruss: Our current case load right now is over 500 cases.

ND Chris: Okay.

Mike Agruss: So, anyway, I want to give you an accurate number. Thinking about this, if the question is how often are you successful, meaning how often do you get a reasonable settlement for your client, I'm going to give you a ballpark range, and I would say 98% of the time, we get our client some settlement that is reasonable and that they're happy and is favorable. I do want to explain that a little bit. So, the good news about what we do is we work on a contingency fee. So, if you were to come to my office and I were to help you out, and let's say you fell into that 2% where we just couldn't get you a good result or we couldn't get you money, you would never owe us a penny for our time. Okay? So, we only get paid when we settle a case.

So, if we aren't successful in a case... And look, it happens, and the reason it happens is because we are fierce litigators, and if we don't get our client a good offer, we will fight people tooth and nail in court until we get an offer that's reasonable. And look, sometimes we go to trial, and we don't win. But, I don't want people to be discouraged about that, because this goes back to what we talked about in the beginning, which is, a lot of firms, they'll take you on and they'll say, "Okay, we'll take..." and in my opinion, it's like, "We want the easy case. Oh, we can't settle without filing a lawsuit? I'm going to refer it out to you. I don't want to work on it." So, we handle cases start to finish. Obviously, I'd love it if we got a settlement in 100% of the cases, but it doesn't happen. We're not afraid to fight cases. We're not afraid to litigate. We go to trial. Sometimes it doesn't work at trial. But we're always willing to fight. And even when it doesn't work out, our clients never pay us a penny for anything.

This case we just settled last week that I was referring to, it's the longest case we've worked on at my office. It's over five years. And we fought tooth and nail, and at the end, we ended up cutting our fees and costs because we wanted to make sure our client... Once again, people first. I treat her like she is a family member. She was really injured. There just wasn't insurance. And so, we cut our fees and costs to make sure that she got the most amount of money as possible. So, we have a really good success rate. When we lose at trial occasionally, we always try to learn from our mistakes and how to do things better. Every single morning I wake up thinking, "I want to do things better." We're competing with 1.3 million lawyers. And we want to learn from it.

We get good results 98% of the time, our clients get a settlement that they're happy with, and the other 2% of the time, we learn from our mistakes. And at the end of the day, our clients never have to pay us a penny.

Taylor Kosla: And the 2% is because we took a chance on a case... either the law or the facts weren't 100% in our favor. Other attorneys would have turned that case down or tried to refer it out. So, when we do lose, we gave that case a chance, our client a chance at recovering, and it just didn't work out for us.

Frankie: [Vietnamese]. Based on my experience, of course, I just input that more... when we take a chance, when we look at a case, we analyze the case, and we know what the percent that we can win at the beginning already. In some case, we know the chance is slim, but we always be upfront to the client. Right? Yes. [Vietnamese].

ND Chris: Yes. Thank you so much for your answer. You just gave a lot of information and now the audience, our clients and our customer, and the people who get involved into the accident, they understand more and they can trust now on your law firm. Go beyond the accident or other issues there, but I've got another question for you. When you mentioned something about the law, can you give some brief explanation about, okay, state law and federal law? It does relate, or it's not, two separate animal?

Mike Agruss: Sure. Do you want...

Taylor Kosla: You can.

Mike Agruss: So, our practice, we do personal injury and consumer rights.

ND Chris: Okay.

Mike Agruss: Our personal injury practice is primarily based on state law. Our consumer rights practice, we are dealing with federal statutes and it's based on federal law. So, something we haven't talked about today is the other part of our practice, helping people with financial issues, whether it's problems with bills, debt collection harassment, credit report problems. Those cases are based on federal laws and we're in federal court. Personal injury cases, most of the time, there are some exceptions, most of the time are in state court based on state law. Sometimes you end up filing in federal court. That's because you've got a plaintiff and defendant in two different states. But at the end of the day, you're still following state law.

ND Chris: Wow. That's good to know, right? Yes, it is.

Frankie: [Vietnamese].

Mike Agruss: And-

Taylor Kosla: And-

Mike Agruss: Oh, I'm sorry, go.

ND Chris: Yes, go ahead.

Taylor Kosla: I'd like to touch on something that I think is really important to the viewers, and that's language barrier. If you are involve din an accident, and English is your second language, maybe you're not comfortable speaking English, you're not understanding the police officer, don't be afraid to ask for a translator or call someone, maybe a relative or a friend that you can have on speakerphone to help you translate. And that's also important with your medical care as well, and we can actually help our clients get a translator to go to the appointments with them, to make sure that the communication is accurate and all the information, the records, is truthful.

ND Chris: Okay.

Frankie: [Vietnamese].

ND Chris: Do you want to add something before we go on to another question?

Mike Agruss: Yeah, thank you. Frankie, you had mentioned earlier about when we were talking about the success rate and spending time with clients in the beginning when we're vetting a case and trying to figure out if we can help out, that's something I wanted to address too, because one of the reasons we have, I think, a high success rate is because we spend so much time in the beginning with the clients, and I do think that this separates us from a lot of law firms in the sense that when you contact our office, we do have an intake team, but it's not just an intake team non-attorney reviewing your case. Anytime there's a personal injury, potential client who contacts our office, one of the lawyers at the firm is always involved with that analysis. If it's an easy case or a difficult case, we always get a lawyer to analyze the facts and give the client an accurate assessment of what we think is going to happen based on our experience of handling thousands and thousands of cases, because the last thing we want to do... and we tell people this all the time. The last thing we want to do is get someone involved in lengthy litigation, and then the end result not be something that they're happy with.

So, as much as I like to say we help out a ton of people, we have awesome reviews, we've got a really good success rate, we do sometimes tell people, "I don't think we can help, because I don't think the end result will be beneficial to you." Or, we'll tell someone in a case that's maybe minor, they weren't really injured, but they've got some property damage, we'll help them out for free and say, "Hey, we'll help you get your car fixed," or, "You just have an emergency room bill. We'll help you get the bill fixed." And we're not going to take a fee on that. So, we spend tons of time in the beginning, which I think contributes to our high success rate at the end. Once again, there's a lot of firms out there, when you leave the office today and you're on the highway and you see all the billboards, there's a lot of firms that just sign up, sign up, sign up, sign up, and then it gets to an attorney's lap, and they're like, "Why'd we sign this case? Oh, they're not settling pre-suit. I'm going to refer it to you, Frankie. I'm going to..."

So, we spend so much time in the beginning to make sure that our clients have a reasonable expectation and they know what's going to happen.

Frankie: Yeah. [Vietnamese].

ND Chris: [Vietnamese]. Sorry, [Vietnamese].

Frankie: Yeah.

ND Chris: [Vietnamese].

Frankie: [Vietnamese].

ND Chris: [Vietnamese]. Well-

Frankie: Go on.

ND Chris: The clock is ringing out right now. Look at the time. Okay. I'm sorry, your case too short for one hour, right? We're very happy, and we're very glad that you are here to give most of the important answer to our audiences. Thank you so much for the two of you. But before we let you go, based on what you told me, okay, you have 1,300 very good comments, and you handle more than 7,500 cases the last 10 years. Have I got right? Also, okay, your success of the cases is 98%. Wow, that's very impressive. Are you happy with that? I'm sorry to ask you that question.

Taylor Kosla: I'm so happy that we know that we do the best we can for our clients, and our clients are happy.

ND Chris: Or your goal is 100%.

Mike Agruss: I'm sorry, the goal is...

ND Chris: Of successful.

Mike Agruss: Oh, yes. Yeah.

ND Chris: 100% success.

Mike Agruss: I was going to say, I didn't see that question here. No, but to be honest, it's a fair question, and Taylor can tell you, I'm obsessed about the experience.

ND Chris: Right.

Mike Agruss: And when I say the experience, I mean the client experience. So, we are 100% in the service industry. We are running a business, and we just happen to practice law. If we're not doing an exceptional job, those people are going to go to the other 1.3 million attorneys out there. So, this is something that I think about every single day. Every one at my office knows that I think about this every single day. I see every single personal injury lead that comes in. I see the cases that we're working on. And when we're sending out settlement checks, it's me making sure that the client was happy. Did they leave us a good review? If they didn't leave us a review, why? We're always trying to improve our system. So, no, I would like all 7,500 of those clients to leave us reviews, and of course, I want a perfect system, but it's not going to be that way. But I can ensure you, it's something that I think about every single day. So, it's super important. I know we joked about it for a second, but it's super important.

ND Chris: It's just a joke.

Mike Agruss: And I tell people this all the time, you could ask anyone at my office and not even give me an opportunity to talk to them first, and they'd all say, "What's one of Mike and Taylor's biggest concerns? It's the experience, the reviews, making sure that we're really helping our clients out." Because what we're doing, we're just in the service industry.

ND Chris: Yeah. To me, your success percentage is 98%. You are the top group of people.

Mike Agruss: I'd like to think so.

Frankie: Okay. [Vietnamese].

ND Chris: All right. Thank you so much. Before we say goodbye, if there's anything else that you want to talk to the audience of, please. And we do appreciate your time, and hopefully we invite you next time for more information about what can benefits the clients, the big demand on the client, their request. Also, they want to understand more about the law. Thanks.

Taylor Kosla: Yeah, I would just advise the viewers that if you're injured and have been in a car accident, to contact us right away. Don't wait. We'll help you get the treatment that you need.

ND Chris: Okay.

Mike Agruss: Yeah, and if I can add, honestly, if we've talked about one thing that the viewers should remember from today, it's just what Taylor said. If you're in an accident, don't be intimidated, don't be scared. Reach out to us. Ask questions. We're here to help, and once again, our contingency fee, we don't get paid unless we get a client a settlement. So, there's no cost to ask us questions. I tell people all the time, I'd much rather you call me, ask questions, I can answer them, I can help you. It's so important because the longer you wait, the worse things get. So, please, reach out after an accident, and if we can help you, great, and if not, we'll certainly point you in the right direction.

ND Chris: Yeah. Thank you. Thank you so much.

Frankie: [Vietnamese]... You think you bring in over $100 million so far, over the last 10 years?

Mike Agruss: I don't know that much.

Frankie: We did. We did in Georgia. We bring home over... I think 11 years in Georgia, and we bring in more than $100 million over the last 11 years.

Mike Agruss: Wow.

Frankie: In Georgia, yeah.

ND Chris: Okay. Great, thank you. Okay. Thank you, [inaudible]. [Vietnamese] lawyer Taylor and lawyer Mike. [Vietanmese].

Frankie: [Vietnamese].

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