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Dealing with Auto Accidents on Vsam1040 Chicago LLC

Speaker 1: So it’s my pleasure to be here today with you. Mike Agruss after five months.

Michael Agruss: Five months. Yeah.

Speaker 1: It’s been awhile, but it just like the time really flies, huh?

Michael Agruss: Yeah. It’s good to see you again.

Speaker 1: Yeah. Thanks. And today after five months, we are back and we’re going to talk about the car accident. Your expertise in this field, right?

Michael Agruss: Yep.

Speaker 1: I have seen a lot of talk shows that you make with [inaudible] and other lawyers as your partners about family law, criminal laws, a lot of that. But today you talk about your field, the car accident, auto accident. So, people know a lot about your law firm that bring to you… Your customers, millions are from the car accident. So now, today we’re going to talk really details and more like, very details about how to solve the problem when they get involved to the car accident. First of all I will raise a question for you. And then I will translate like questions, answer, question, answer as I did before. [foreign language]. First of all, can I have a question with you, is what should I do to protect myself right after I’m involved in the accident?

Michael Agruss: It’s a really good question. And car accidents are so common and people hear about them all the time. And then when you get in one, the big question is what do you do? So, the first thing you should do when you’re involved in a car accident is make sure you’re okay. If you need immediate treatment, call 911, call an ambulance. Assuming you can get around, walk talk. You should see if there’s any witnesses to the scene of the accident. And it’s also important to take pictures.

Speaker 1: Yes.

Michael Agruss: If you can take pictures at the scene, take pictures. And even if you’re not seriously injured, it’s always important to call the police. It’s always important to get treatment right away. I’d say the last thing you want to do at the scene of the accident is talk to the other person who was involved in the accident. You want to make sure you don’t say anything to the other side in a moment of being nervous and caught off guard. “Oh, I’m sorry.” And you may say something and that may come back to haunt you.

Speaker 1: Oh, okay. Thank you so much for your answer. [foreign language]. Next question for you is if I am not able to speak English, so can I ask for help to explain to the police what happened?

Michael Agruss: Yeah. And there was something I wanted to mention about the first question you asked, and you should talk to the police. And it is important to talk to the police and to tell the police what happened. So, that is one of the things you can do to protect yourself is talk to the police. And then one other thing I wanted to add as well is while you’re talking to the police, and this also goes into your second question, don’t refuse medical treatment at the scene of the accident.

I see this all the time in police reports, where people are injure. They refused medical treatment. And then a month later, when I’m talking to the insurance company, that’s the first thing they pointed out. “Oh, your client’s injured. Why did they refuse treatment?” So anyway, it’s okay to talk to the place. You should talk to the police. And this leads into your next question about if you don’t speak English.

Speaker 1: Right.

Michael Agruss: I’ve seen this in police reports as well, where I know our client doesn’t speak English and the police fill out a police report. And it’s based on what happened in the accident. Let’s say it’s a two car accident. And it’ll say, unit one said all of these things, unit two said all of these things. And I know unit two doesn’t speak English. And so the police, they’re busy. They’re like everyone else and they’re trying to do their job quickly. So they may plug in some information based on what they see at the scene.

Anyway, it’s important to speak to the police. And if you don’t speak English ask for a translator. You could call a family member, a friend. You could call [inaudible] who could help out. It’s important to make sure your side of the story is conveyed at the scene of the accident because that’s what’s going to go into the police report.

Speaker 1: Okay.

Michael Agruss: And when the insurance company finds out about the accident, that’ll be the first thing that they request is the police report. And then they’re going to read the police report to determine what happened. So, by all means let the police officer know if you don’t speak English well. I would like a family member. I would like a friend call [inaudible] because it’s important to convey your version of the accident to the police.

Speaker 1: Okay. Thank you so much. [foreign language]. Okay. So how do I do if I am at fault or not at fault for the accident?

Michael Agruss: Good question. And so, when you think about a car accident and the police come to investigate. The police are there after the fact. So the police are investigating based on what you say, based on what I say, based on what the witness who’s standing on the corner says, and then they come to a determination, at least in the police report if someone’s at fault. I can say usually, police reports are correct. They’re accurate. Not all the time.

So, if you’re involved in an accident and someone else ran a stop sign and they get a ticket for it, they’re probably at fault for the accident. But there are times and we do see this often where we’ll look at the police report, we’ll talk to our client and it doesn’t match up. And as it turns out, there’s something wrong with the police report. Or maybe for example, like in Chicago, there are certain major roads that don’t have stop signs, but intersecting roads do. And so, maybe the police officer got it wrong. And then you can go on to Google maps and look at the intersection to see actually who had the stop sign.

So, there was also cameras at intersections. So I tell people in general, the police report is usually right, but it’s not the end all be all. And what’s important for people who are involved in car accidents is to contact us right away so we can also do an investigation. I’ve seen it oftentimes not always, but oftentimes the police report will have something that’s not 100% accurate or maybe someone got a ticket and they shouldn’t have gotten a ticket, and that is our job to conduct an investigation as well. Just like the police do we do.

And then, something that’s also important in Illinois is, you can be in an accident and be partially at fault but still get compensation. So, even though you got a ticket or the police officer says you were at fault for the accident, don’t be discouraged by that from contacting a lawyer. In Illinois, as long as you are 50% or less responsible for the accident, you can still get a recovery. So, let me give you an example. And this is why it’s important that even if you got a ticket, or maybe both drivers got a ticket at the scene of the accident.

Let’s say, for example, it’s raining out and I’m driving five or 10 miles an hour over the speed limit. Let’s say I’m driving too fast for the conditions. Okay? And let’s say you run a stop sign. You’re probably 90% at fault for the accident. And I’m probably 10% at fault, but I can still recover even though I’m partially at fault. Maybe I was driving a little bit too fast, but you ran the stop sign. We may both get tickets, but I can still get a recovery. It’ll just be reduced by 10% based on my fault. So like everything else always just call us. That’s what we’re here for. We’ll review the police report. We’ll do our investigation and don’t be discouraged if you think you’re at fault or partially at fault for the accident.

Speaker 1: Great. [crosstalk].

Michael Agruss: Good info, right?

Speaker 1: Yeah. And good example too. [foreign language]. So in case that I think I’m not at fault for that accident, as you say that I drive 5 to 10 miles over the limit, but I get the ticket. So can you help me to solve that problem?

Michael Agruss: Yeah. So even if you get a ticket at the scene of the accident, like we just discussed, as long as you’re 50% or less at fault for the accident, you can still recover. Something we haven’t talked about regarding tickets that’s also important in Illinois is, just because you get a ticket, it doesn’t mean you’re going to be found guilty of that, right? You have a court date, there’s a hearing.

And in Illinois, in order for a moving violation or a traffic ticket to be used against you, you have to be found or plead guilty to that. So for example, let’s say continuing on with our scenario of driving five or 10 miles an hour over the speed limit. If you get a ticket for driving too fast, you may end up not pleading guilty, but you may take the option of, oh just I’ll pay the ticket. I’ll do supervision, and then it drops off my record. If you do that, that is not a guilty finding and it can’t be used against you.

So once again, and when I say used against you, I mean at a civil trial if the case gets to that. My experience with most moving violations, minor ones, speeding, failure to yield, things like that. People just do supervision, pay the fine and that’s it. So don’t be discouraged if you get a ticket. And then once again, it’s important to keep in mind that the police aren’t there at the scene of the accident when it happened, usually. So they’re there to do a police report, do their job, move on. They’re doing a thousand other things. They’re busy and they could get it wrong. And that’s why it’s so important to contact us so we can do our investigation.

Let me give you one other example, which I think people could relate to in Chicago, we have a client and it’s a motorcycle accident. And he ran into a woman who pulled out in front of him and he was actually given the ticket and he was found to be at fault for the accident. And I remember looking at the police report saying this doesn’t add up.

He was on Milwaukee Avenue. And although he T-boned this woman who pulled out in front of him, I ended up doing a Google street view. And as it turns out, he did not have a stop sign. She had the stop sign. She probably didn’t see him. He’s on a motorcycle. She pulls out in front. He hits her, but he got the ticket and he was found at fault. And what’s interesting is we did our investigation. We reached out to the insurance company and said, “Look, he doesn’t have a stop sign.” Clearly it’s… And the insurance company said, “You’re right. We agree. This police report is not right.” He also got a ticket and he wasn’t at fault for the accident.

So once again, we’re always here to help. We’ll always answer questions. And look, sometimes people contact us and they are at fault and there’s nothing we can do. But we’ll still, or I shouldn’t say that. We can’t represent them because they caused the accident, but we can certainly put them in touch with their own insurance company and advise them of what they need to do. But I tell everyone, contact us. It’s free. You don’t pay for our fees and we can certainly do our investigation to help.

Speaker 1: Great. Thank you so much. [foreign language]. All right, thank you for waiting on me to translate the lengthy answer.

Michael Agruss: Sure. Of course.

Speaker 1: So, if I am hurt from the accident, should I go to the hospital right away or I have to wait to make an appointment scheduled with my old primary doctor?

Michael Agruss: Super important. Get treatment right away. We see this non-stop and this is something that the insurance companies just, they pounce on. When they see a police report and it says, “Refused medical treatment.” They immediately say, “If your client was injured, they would’ve gotten treatment right away.” Typically in a car accident, the police will come, an ambulance will come. Don’t refuse treatment. Make sure you get treatment right away.

It’s very common in car accidents when you have soft tissue injuries. Where you hurt your neck or your arm, and you feel sore, but you don’t have like a broken bone and you think like, “Oh, I’m fine. I’m okay.” And then especially you have so much adrenaline after a car accident that you may feel fine at that point. And then later on you go home the next day and you feel terrible. It’s so important to get treatment right away.

Even if you don’t go in the ambulance to the emergency room, you can go to an urgent care. You can go to an emergency room later on. I tell people this all the time. It’s so much better to be safe than to regret it later on. Because if you don’t get treatment, the insurance company will not think you are injured. And the longer you wait, the less money or the less severe the insurance company will think your injuries are, and the less money that they will pay out.

I see this all the time where first couple of days, after an accident, people don’t get treatment, and then things start to get really bad. And they have to go back to the… Or they go to the emergency room, they go to their primary care, and things get exponentially worse as time passes. So, even if you’re just a little bit sore, the fact that you went somewhere to an urgent care or emergency room, whatever it is and say, “Hey, I was in an accident. My neck hurts. I have whiplash.” You want to document it. You want to make sure it’s documented. And then you’ll follow up with your primary care physician. And then they will then send you on a further treatment if you need it. And if you’re lucky, there’s not serious injuries and you’re fine. But it’s so much better to be safe. Go, it’s documented. And then the insurance company won’t use it against you.

Speaker 1: Because so much, Mike. [foreign language]. All right. So, where should they go to get the treatment after the accident? And you say like urgent care or emergency room. Or can I go to my primary doctor if I have to?

Michael Agruss: Yes. So if your insured has seen at the accident, you should get treatment right away. If there’s an ambulance, go to the emergency room.

Speaker 1: So, I’m the one that called the ambulance, 911 or the police will call for me?

Michael Agruss: Either. Or if you call the police. So, the moment you call 911 and it’s an accident. Typically speaking, they’re going to say there’s someone injured and they will send both the police and an ambulance. Let’s say the police just show up. You can also request for the ambulance to come. And then the ambulance can take you to the emergency room. Oftentimes, it doesn’t happen that way because people say, “Oh, I’m okay.” And you’ve got adrenaline and whatever. And then you leave the scene and an hour later, you’re like, “My neck hurts.”

Go to urgent care because the nice thing about urgent care is there’s a lot of facilities and you can get in right away. Once it’s documented right away, you can either follow up with your primary care physician. And if you do have one or you don’t have one, we have a great network of doctors who we work with, whether it’s orthopedic physicians, pain management doctors, physical therapists, whatever it is, we can certainly help out and make a referral to. The most important thing is, is to get in immediately. And then also follow what your doctors say. Follow their advice. You can either do emergency room, urgent care. You can also contact us. We can refer you out to a great network of various doctors we have so you can get in right away, start getting treatment and start feeling better.

Speaker 1: Okay. [foreign language]. Okay. So, because many people are scared to pay up a medical bill and you know that. All about money. So, who is going to take the responsibility to pay that medical bill?

Michael Agruss: Sure. And all of our clients are concerned about this. So you get in an accident, you get treatment and medical bills start coming in and we help from the beginning. So there’s multiple layers of protection. So for example, your own insurance company will pay your medical bills. Let’s say you don’t have medical insurance, health insurance. Typically, most people have what’s called medical payment coverage on their own auto insurance. So you can have your own insurance pay and they will pay up to a certain amount.

Speaker 1: Yep.

Michael Agruss: Ultimately, the party that’s responsible is the at fault driver. So the person who’s at fault for the accident, their insurance will pay you for your medical bills. This is something we help our clients out with because we know how. We know how important it is. And so, by contacting us right away, we can make sure that your either health insurance pays, your medical payment coverage pays. And then ultimately, the at fault driver pays. And we help every step of the way to make sure that the medical bills are paid.

We also help with our network of doctors, where if you don’t have insurance, you don’t have medical payment coverage. And the case hasn’t settled yet. There was something that we ask our doctors who treat our clients to put a lien on the file. And what that simply means is when the case settles, we will pay back your doctor bills at a reduced rate. Because oftentimes, people don’t have health insurance, or maybe they don’t have medical payment coverage through their own insurance or the at fault driver hasn’t settled yet.

We always make sure that the clients get treatment so they feel better. And when you’re working with our network of doctors, they send us the bill and they say, “Hey, Mike, when the case settles, pay us back a portion and we’re going to be good.” which is also really helpful for our clients because they can get treatment and then get better.

Speaker 1: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, of course. [foreign language]. Okay, so now it’s 11:50. Maybe one more question.

Michael Agruss: Sure. That sounds good.

Speaker 1: How about that? Okay. So if I’m hurt really bad and the other party don’t have enough insurance. Okay. That’s a really bad thing, right? So can I still be able to treat until I’ve been whole?

Michael Agruss: Yeah. So this is a really good question in Illinois. The minimum insurance you need to drive to have on your car is $25,000. In Illinois. You’re required to have uninsured motorist coverage. Meaning, if the at fault driver does not have insurance, you can go after your own insurance company. And then in Illinois, it is optional to have under insured motorist coverage. And what that means is if the other driver does not have enough insurance like you were just saying, you can go after your own insurance company to get the rest of the coverage and the rest of the settlement.

So let me give you an example. We represented an employee who worked at O’Hare Airport. He worked at United Airlines, and he was on his way to the airport. Someone ran a stop sign. T-boned him. He lost consciousness. He was in the hospital for a couple of days, stitches, concussion, like pretty bad injuries, but nothing was broken. And he bounced back about a month or two later. He was back at work. The person who ran the stop sign and hit him had $25,000 in insurance. They immediately sent that check over because his medical bills were like 60, 70 grand.

Speaker 1: Okay.

Michael Agruss: And in that case, he said, like your question asked, most people are like, “Well, that doesn’t make me whole.” So his own insurance, he had what’s called under insured motorist coverage. And he had $100,000 in coverage. So we got $25,000 from the at fault driver, and then we turned to his own insurance and said, “Hey, you to pay the rest.” And so they get a credit for the 25 grand and we got him from his own insurance an extra $75,000.

So to answer your question, when people contact us, we look at the police report. We look at insurance coverage, both the at fault driver’s policy. Your own insurance policy, and we make sure that we get all of the insurance companies to chip in to make sure that someone is made whole. And this is, I know it’s our last question. And we’re bringing up insurance, which is, it’s good it’s the last question. It’s so important. Make sure you have the maximum coverage insurance. I’ve probably said it 50 times on the show.

Speaker 1: 100 times.

Michael Agruss: 100 times. Call your insurance company and say, I want the maximum coverage, both for when you’re at fault. And then also if the other side doesn’t have insurance, or if the other side doesn’t have enough. My insurance company, I’ve a million dollars in coverage. If I hit someone, they’re covered by a million dollars. If someone hits me and they don’t have insurance, I go after my own insurance and I can get up to a million dollars if I’m seriously injured. So, it’s so important. Call your insurance company, maximize your coverage both for liability and for uninsured and under-insured.

Speaker 1: Okay. I know that the minimum is 25,000, but the maximum is just like, depends on how much I want, right?

Michael Agruss: And the carrier.

Speaker 1: And the carrier. Okay.

Michael Agruss: Correct. So, the insurance company I have is USAA. They happen to offer a million dollars of coverage. Other companies like State Farm, Allstate, Liberty Mutual, maybe for an individual private policy, maybe the maximum is 500,000.

Speaker 1: I see.

Michael Agruss: So it may not be a million, maybe it’s 500,000, whatever it is. And you don’t have to go like switching insurance companies and go crazy about it. But it’s such a simple question. And this is the beauty of it too. The amount of money you’ll spend per month to go from 25,000 to 100 or 500,000 in coverage, it’s like 5 or 10 bucks a month.

Speaker 1: Oh really?

Michael Agruss: It is not significant.

Speaker 1: I’m glad to know.

Michael Agruss: And it like, honestly, if there’s one thing someone takes away from the show, call your insurance company. And I write this on my website. I talk to people about it all the time. You can even call and ask me, and I’ll look at your insurance. I’ll tell you what to get. We’ll do it for free. Because the last thing you want to happen is you’re in a situation where you’re involved in an accident and you’re injured and the other side has bad insurance, or doesn’t have enough insurance because then you won’t be made whole again. So this protects you from someone else who doesn’t have enough coverage or doesn’t even have insurance.

Speaker 1: Yeah.

Michael Agruss: Super important. Yeah.

Speaker 1: For a financial aspect, I didn’t know that only 5 or $10 difference between like 25,000 and a million, as you said.

Michael Agruss: Yeah. I mean, it goes from 25 to a million. Might be more than that, but-

Speaker 1: [crosstalk] five and [crosstalk].

Michael Agruss: Yeah. 300, 500, whatever. Yeah, totally. We’re talking like 5, 10 bucks a month, and what’s crazy. Here’s what I also think is nuts, and this is so important for people to know. Insurance companies, they don’t tell you this. Like, if I’m an insurance company and you call me up and say, “Hey Mike, can I get insurance?” “Oh, how much do you want? Do you want 50,000?” They don’t say, “Hey, get the most.” Because they don’t explain all this to you. And it’s so important and maximize your insurance coverage. And if you have any questions, please call, we help people with this all the time.

Speaker 1: Okay. Thank you so much, Mike. It’s really like half full for me and to the audience. [foreign language]. Thank you so much, Mike for being here today with me.

Michael Agruss: Sure. It was great. And can I add one more thing? This’ll take 30 seconds because people always want to know. We handle personal injury cases on a contingency fee. So our clients never pay us a penny for our time. We get paid when we settle the case. Our contingency fee is one-third. That fee never changes. A lot of personal injury firms increase their fee once they file a lawsuit, get closer to the trial.

So, whether we settled the case without filing a lawsuit, whether we go to trial, one-third contingency fee. And for some reason, if we lose a case, which we don’t, but if we do our clients never owe us a penny. We work on the case on a contingency fee. So I think it’s important for the viewers to know that.

Speaker 1: [foreign language]. Thank you so much, Mike.

Michael Agruss: Thank you.

Speaker 1: I hope to see you next week.

Michael Agruss: Yes, absolutely. Thank you.

Speaker 1: Thank you so much. Yeah. [foreign language].

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