Tips For Dealing With Car Accidents On Vsam1040 Chicago Llc

Speaker 1:

It's really my pleasure to see you again. Yeah, this week and next week too.

Michael Agruss:

Yeah, thanks. Thanks for having me back on.

Speaker 1:

Okay, so last time we had a talk show with Taylor. Talk to the audience about how they're going to after the accident. It's really important, so I want to emphasize one more time this week. So, let's jump into the talk show. Okay. The first question I give you today is, can you give me, just in short, what are three things I need to do after I get into the car accident?

Michael Agruss:

Yeah. So, I'd say these are the most important things. I know we've gone over this in the past, in-depth, but if people can remember three things when you're involved in an accident, the first thing is call the police. The second thing is you want to get medical treatment right away, if you're injured or think you're injured. Then the third thing is, contact a lawyer.

Speaker 1:

Yes. That really summarizes three things that you need to remember. [foreign language 00:01:03].

Okay, so as I said, when people get involved in a car accident, after they call the police and the ambulance, then they think of calling the car insurance company. Is it right or wrong, it should or shouldn't?

Michael Agruss:

Don't call your insurance company. I want to go back to... I always think it's really helpful on shows to give you a real life example of why things are important, because I can say call the police. I can say, get medical treatment. I can say, talk to a lawyer. Let me give you an example of why it's important to call the place. A couple of years ago, I was on my way to work. I was at a stoplight, and I was the second car. There was a car ahead of me then the stoplight, and there was a car behind me. The light was red. The light turned green. The car ahead of me went and the person behind me thought it was me going, and she let her foot off the brake, hit the gas and ran into me. I hadn't even moved forward. We get out of the car. I wasn't injured. I mean, she tapped my bumper, but there was property damage. I said, let's just exchange information. 

Speaker 1:

You just hit a lawyer.

Michael Agruss:

Yes. Totally. I actually gave her my card saying, here's my contact information. I took a picture of her driver's license. I took a picture of her auto insurance. She had GEICO insurance, good insurance. She apologized and said, submit it to her insurance, they'll take care of everything and pay for it. Anyway, I go to the office, I tell the story to everyone at the office and they all sort of laughed. I'm a personal injury attorney. We had the car accident. Someone hit me, got pictures, everything, the whole nine. I submit the claim to her insurance company. Her insurance was expired. Her driver's license had the old contact information on it. What I did first is I went and got an estimate for the bumper, and I have a newer car, so it has sensors on it. So, although it looked like minor property damage... Anyway, the bill was about $2,500 to fix it.

Speaker 1:

It's not minor.

Michael Agruss:

Right. The point is, I was in a rush. I was coming to the office. I did not call the police. The police would have run her license plate. They would have run her driver's license. They would have checked her... They would have done all these things, and then I would have had proof and evidence, something. Police report. I did none of the above and she didn't have insurance. It was her old address on the driver's license. I tracked her down, she ignored me and I was stuck with the bill. So, if you're involved in a car accident, I know sometimes it's not the most convenient, call the police so there can be a police report.

Speaker 1:

Okay. All right. Thank you so much for your real example about your case too, it's not other person's case.

Michael Agruss:

It's mine.

Speaker 1:

It's yours.

Michael Agruss:

I was stuck with the bill, and then this is-

Speaker 1:

You said 2,500?

Michael Agruss:

$2,500. So, I have insurance but my property damage deductible-

Speaker 1:

I see. How much [crosstalk 00:06:01]?

Michael Agruss:

$1,000.

Speaker 1:

Okay.

Michael Agruss:

So, if I were to submit the claim, my insurance may go up. You know insurance.

Speaker 1:

Right, right, I know.

Michael Agruss:

I have a thousand dollar deductible, so the question is, did I want to run the risk of my insurance going up over $1,500? To me it wasn't worth it because... So anyway, I never even fixed my bumper. Don't don't tell anyone. You can't-

Speaker 1:

That's my choice too, if I'm in your case [crosstalk 00:06:32]. Yeah, I would never pay that 1,500 because someone hit my car.

Michael Agruss:

It's really minor but the whole point is stuff like this happens to everyone. She didn't have insurance. I was in a rush and didn't do a police report. So, do a police report.

Speaker 1:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Thank you so much. [foreign language 00:06:51].

Okay. It's a long explanation.

Michael Agruss:

Yeah, you must have told the story... You're a good storyteller.

Speaker 1:

Right. Mm-hmm (affirmative). I have to translate your story and then I have to add some details that I know, when I did a talk show with you just a couple of weeks ago. So, yeah. I had some points to analyze what I know and analyze your creation.

Michael Agruss:

Awesome. So, you're listening, you're learning.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I'm learning.

Michael Agruss:

Awesome.

Speaker 1:

For real. Okay, so should I get a medical treatment from the scene of the accident if I'm insured? 

Michael Agruss:

Sure. So, should we go back? Let's talk the insurance question that you were going to ask me about contacting the insurance company. Should you do it? So, in my situation, if it's a minor fender bender and you're really not injured, it's okay to talk to the insurance company. If you're injured, don't talk to the insurance company. The car insurance company, even your own car insurance company. Here's why this is so important, when you're talking to the insurance company, they're trying to minimize your injuries. They're trying to minimize your damages.

Speaker 1:

Highlight.

Michael Agruss:

I'm sorry?

Speaker 1:

Highlight, don't minimize.

Michael Agruss:

Yes. Yes. So, the at fault driver is going to start hounding you. What happened? How do you feel? Are you okay? Then you for sure don't want to talk to them. You also don't want to talk to your own insurance company, because if the other driver doesn't have insurance, you're going to be going after your own insurance company. So, insurance companies are always trying to deny claims or minimize claims. They're for-profit business. The more money they bring in, the less money they... So, if you're injured, the bottom line is don't talk to an insurance company. The moment you hire us, the same day we send out letters to everyone saying, "We represent this person. Don't contact them. Everything should go through me," and the insurance companies immediately stop and everything goes through us. Then we can filter it. We can disclose information when we want to and how we want to. 

The reason that's so important is, if you're involved in an accident and you're injured, and the insurance company asks you, "Oh, how do you feel?" And you say, "Oh, I'm okay. Yeah, I'm okay. My back's a little bit sore." They're going to then note the file saying they talked to you a day after the accident, and you're okay. Your back's a little bit sore. Well, come two months later on down the road, if you've gone through extensive PT, physical therapy, it hasn't worked and maybe you need to get injections or like the worst case scenario, surgery, they're going to say fast forward to trial. We spoke after the accident, right? And you said your back was a little bit sore, but you were okay. Now you want a million dollars. So, they attack your credibility. So, anyway-

Speaker 1:

The police and the insurance company, they have a sentence, right before our conversation, that you're on a recorded line. That's the proof, right?

Michael Agruss:

Yes. Yeah. I don't know if the police do that. For sure, insurance companies, they always... You're on a recorded line, a recorded statement, and they're going to focus on you saying you're okay. They're not going to focus on your back being sore.

Speaker 1:

So your statement will... Against you.

Michael Agruss:

100%.

Speaker 1:

Right.

Michael Agruss:

So, when you hire a lawyer, hire us. Everything comes through us and you don't have to worry about the insurance company, because they're going to come off super friendly. "Oh, I'm so sorry about the accident. I want to help you out. You're in good hands." You know all the commercials, right?

Speaker 1:

Right.

Michael Agruss:

"We're by your side." It's not true. 

Speaker 1:

Okay, so if the insurance company just goes after me, calls me all the time, what am I going to say to the insurance company, if I hired you already?

Michael Agruss:

Oh, "Call my lawyer."

Speaker 1:

That's it?

Michael Agruss:

That's it, and I'll tell you what, as much as they're always trying to minimize claims, minimize damages, seem super friendly. The moment you say, "Lawyer," they won't contact you anymore. 

Speaker 1:

Just turn their face.

Michael Agruss:

Yeah, I have a lawyer.

Speaker 1:

100%. Yeah.

Michael Agruss:

And then that's it. Then also, what's good about this is, honestly, the exact same day we are retained, the first thing that pops up on our list, on our events, our case management software is, we send out, it's called a notice of representation letter. We send it to everyone. We would send it to your insurance. We would send it to the at fault driver's insurance. We'd basically say, "Hey, we're involved contact us." Then our clients are never harassed or called by the insurance company.

Speaker 1:

Okay. Yeah, nice.

Michael Agruss:

So, it's really to protect your interests. Even though you may think, it's my insurance company, what's the big deal? If the other driver doesn't have insurance, you're going to be going after your own insurance company for an uninsured motorist's claims. So, what you think you are telling to your insurance company, "Oh, I pay premiums. They're on my side." It's not true. 

Speaker 1:

Okay. All right, thank you so much for your excellent answer. Okay. [foreign language 00:15:07].

Okay, so as you said, please don't call the car insurance company.

Michael Agruss:

The insurance company. Right, yeah.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, after the accident. How about the medical treatment? I need to get the treatment right after that or I have to wait until I get hurt?

Michael Agruss:

If you're injured in an accident, you should get treatment right away. It is that simple. The reason it's so important is, following the importance of a police report, and the police report, it will mark down whether anyone was injured or not. So, the at fault driver's insurance company, any time they get a case, and the attorneys reach out, they say, "Do you have the police report?" They look at the police report to try to figure out who's at fault. Then once they figure out that their insured, the at fault driver's at fault, they then say, was anyone injured? And the police report will say if injuries were reported. Then the next thing they will look at is, okay, did anyone get treatment? The longer you wait after a car accident to get treatment, if you were injured, the worse it is.

So, I do this all the time where I'll just tough it out. "I'm fine. I'll go to the doctor in a few days." Every single day you wait to get treatment minimizes your ultimate settlement, because the insurance companies think this, if your case goes to trial, the jury will think this, if you're injured you need to get treatment. If you're not getting treatment, people don't think you're injured. When I say people, I mean insurance companies, juries, and all of that. So, if you're injured, go get medical treatment. Very simple. And also, you want to get better.

Speaker 1:

Right. Yeah. Sometimes your injuries couldn't be seen. Like your eyes, you need to get the doctors and urgent care to, like a physical check, everything. You're going to see you got injured inside or... Is it inside or what? 

Michael Agruss:

Yeah, so-

Speaker 1:

How [crosstalk 00:21:01]?

Michael Agruss:

... it's typically referred to as a soft tissue injury.

Speaker 1:

Soft tissue, okay.

Michael Agruss:

Right. So, obviously if you break a leg, break an arm, break a... That's something that we're going to immediately [crosstalk 00:21:11]. But a lot of times, what happens in car accidents is people have whiplash. Like if you're rear-ended-

Speaker 1:

Uh-huh (affirmative), your back, neck.

Michael Agruss:

.. and your neck and your back, or maybe you hit your head on the steering wheel and your head really hurts. That could be a concussion and you may not know for a few days. But if you just say, I'm going to tough this out, it really just diminishes what you'll ultimately settle your case for. We've had doctors on the show too; physical therapist, pain management doctors, orthopedic physicians, and they all say the same thing, that when you have a soft tissue injury like ligaments, muscles, after an accident, you have so much adrenaline because you're scared about what happened. You're in the middle of the street, the police are there. It's nerve-racking. You have so much adrenaline that you may not fully appreciate how hurt you are. So, if you feel any pain... I mean, the woman who rear-ended me, who didn't have insurance, I mean it was like a bump, and that was it. It wasn't a big deal. 

Speaker 1:

So, with minor hurts or feeling, just go to your doctor. 

Michael Agruss:

Yes, just go, have it documented. Even if the next day, the next week, the next month, even if you get no other treatment, at least it's documented. What I always see is this, people get into a car accident. They go home. They wait a few days. They contact me and they say, I was in this accident, I wasn't at fault. The property damage is crazy. They really hit 30, 40 miles an hour, rear-ended. I say, "Oh man, that's terrible. How do you feel?" "I'm in pain." "Did you get treatment?" "No." It's very simple, if you feel remotely injured after an accident, just go get treatment. 

Speaker 1:

Okay, yeah. [foreign language 00:22:56].

Okay, so what if my injuries are minor, as you said, should we get the medical treatment from the scene of the accident?

Michael Agruss:

Yes, even with minor injuries get medical treatment right away. Preferably, you would go from the scene of the accident to an emergency room. I've handled cases where clients think, my injuries are minor. The point is you never know until you talk to a doctor. Then also, you don't know how you're going to feel in two or three weeks. Hopefully, your injuries aren't severe, but I've had so many cases. In one case in particular, so I've been practicing for over 17 years. This March I'll have had my firm for 10 years. One of the first personal... Thank you. I made it. One of the first personal injury cases I handled, my client was in an awful rear end accident. His car was totaled. Fortunately, he didn't feel very... He thought he had minor injuries. His back was just a little sore, not a big deal.

Speaker 1:

It doesn't make sense if your car is totaled and you feel nothing.

Michael Agruss:

Right. He was lucky, at least at that point. He went from the scene to the emergency room. The ER doctor gave him pain medicine, anti-inflammatories, said, "Follow up with your primary care physician." He followed up with his primary care doctor a week later. The doctor said, "Let's see how you are. Come back in a few weeks." Came back in a few weeks, nothing major, just sort of back issues, hurt whatever. He was told to do physical therapy for a couple of months. His treatment was very conservative for the first few months. Things started getting exponentially worse months after the accident. He ultimately had fusion surgery on his back. Now, had he not done anything in the beginning, the insurance company could have said anything could have caused that. He was actually a laborer. He did manual labor. He was a roadside construction worker.

So, if you don't get treatment right away, even if it's minor, the insurance company will say, "Well, how do we know that's from the car accident? Did you fall a week later? Did you get hurt on the job?" Anyway, it was with State Farm. He got surgery, and the moment he had surgery, they turned over the full policy. So, it's a real life example of someone who's in a significant accident, the injury seems minor, but things progressively get worse. Conservative treatment doesn't work, and the guy had surgery. Fortunately, after surgery he's doing much better. But had he not gotten treatment right away, State Farm might not have paid the full policy. 

Speaker 1:

I see. All right. [foreign language 00:28:32].

So, instead of going in the ambulance to the emergency room, can I go to the urgent care? 

Michael Agruss:

Sure. What's most important is getting treatment right away. I understand, if your back is sore and you don't want to go in an ambulance, go to the emergency room, sit there for several hours because fortunately, you're not severely injured. It is okay to go to an urgent care. The whole point is you want to go get treatment as soon as possible. And look, I totally get it where if your back is sore and you're going to pick up your kid after school, and if you don't pick up your kid, no one's going to be there. I understand. Pick up your kid, go home and go to an urgent care that night. Something needs to be documented as soon as possible after the accident, that you got medical treatment. Then also, keep in mind that once again, we've talked about this a bunch, where you may think it's not a big deal, you're not a doctor. I'm not a doctor. You have no idea. Things could get exponentially worse.

Maybe you hit your head on the steering wheel, and you're like, "I have a headache. I'm going to take Advil." What if you have a concussion? Then you continue driving. You know these are all things that can be figured out if you get treatment right away. So, totally, there are urgent cares all over the place. The point is, go and say, "I was involved in an accident. Here's where I feel pain. My wrist hurts, my back hurts," or my head hit the steering wheel, so everything can be documented. The reason that's so important is because those medical records will be evidence that we give to the at fault driver's insurance company, when it comes time to settling the case, because they're going to say, "What are the injuries and what are the treatments?" And if there's no treatment, there's no injuries. At least according to State Farm.

Speaker 1:

Okay. Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, that's the statement in their policy, right?

Michael Agruss:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

So, no treatment, no injuries. 

Michael Agruss:

Yeah. I mean, look, I think just the public sort of thinks that as well, juries certainly think about that, and I think people, they look at personal injury cases like real live examples, where if you just have bumps or bruises and don't get treatment, you're probably not injured.

Speaker 1:

Right.

Michael Agruss:

But if you're taking the time to go to urgent care, taking the time to go to your doctor, people will think that you're injured, especially the insurance company. Once again, I always tell people this too, the whole idea is, look at your treatment outside of a personal injury case. Like, don't worry about your case, don't worry about me, don't worry about State Farm. Take care of yourself and get better, which is important.

Speaker 1:

Right. You first.

Michael Agruss:

Yes.

Speaker 1:

[foreign language 00:34:16].

So, should I get a follow-up treatment if I'm injured in a car accident after I go to the ambulance or urgent care?

Michael Agruss:

Yeah, this is equally as important, and this is where we really help out our clients. So, I know how difficult it is for people to find doctors to get follow-up. You call your primary care physician and they say, "We have an appointment in two weeks," or you try calling a specialist and they say, "Oh, I don't have an appointment for two months." So, we have a great network of various doctors, groups throughout the community, who we work with, who we can refer our clients to. Obviously, if someone comes to us and says, "Hey, I have an awesome doctor. I am comfortable, they're great." By all means, please go see them. What really happens most of the time is people contact us and say, "I have a family care physician, but I can't get in for two weeks," or they say, "My back is on fire. I tried calling an orthopedic physician and they can't get me in for two months."

We work with orthopedic physicians. We work with pain management doctors. We work with physical therapists. We have networks throughout Illinois. We have networks throughout Wisconsin, Indiana. Even if someone needs help, for example, we were just retained by a woman who is a truck driver who was involved in an accident in Illinois, but she was on her way to North Carolina for work. The accident was here. She hired us and she said, "Hey, can you help me find an orthopedic physician in North Carolina?" I don't know anyone out there, but I immediately reached out to our network here. Just like if someone asked me, "Hey, do you know a lawyer in North Carolina [crosstalk 00:39:17]?"

So, we reach out to our group here and say, "Hey, we represent this woman. Could you please refer us to someone out in North Carolina?" And they said, "Yes, of course." What's great about the doctors we work with who we can refer people to is, we get people in like within a day or two. Once again, it's super important because you want to get treatment. You want to make sure you have consistent treatment. Then also, you just want to make sure that you're starting your treatment, so you end up getting better. Sometimes the longer you wait, the more of a recovery, the more you're injured. So yeah, it's super important, and we help out our clients all the time. So, by all means, if someone retains us, the first thing we will do is help them get follow-up treatment. 

Speaker 1:

Yeah, okay. Thank you so much. [foreign language 00:40:02].

So, why is it so important to get medical treatment right away if injured?

Michael Agruss:

Yeah, so we've touched on this a bunch today. This is one of the main topics I wanted to talk about today. So, one, take care of yourself. You want to get better. Two, in order to maximize any type of settlement that you're going to get from the at fault driver's insurance company, it is super important to get treatment right away, because that's what will convince State Farm, Allstate, GEICO, all of these insurance companies, that you are actually injured. We see it time and time again, where people say, I'm going to tough this out. That's great but it's just going to diminish your settlement. So, the idea is get better, and then also, you will have evidence through medical records that you got treatment right away. You explain what your injuries are. You were explained that you were in a car accident and that will trigger the at fault driver's insurance company to settle your case for the full value. It won't get them anything to nitpick about like, "Oh, well you waited a week," or, "You didn't get treatment here." They won't minimize your claim.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. Okay. [foreign language 00:44:18].

So, who our bills, damages and expenses after being injured?

Michael Agruss:

Good question. The at fault driver. So, the at fault driver will pay for your damages. They will pay for your medical bills. They'll pay for all of your expenses. We will help out and make sure that while you're getting treatment and your case hasn't settled, we will make sure that your medical bills are getting submitted to your health insurance company. We'll make sure that the property damage claim is either handled by your own insurance, or the at fault driver's insurance. Most people have what's called medical payment coverage on their own insurance policy. So, these are the types of things that we also help all of our clients with in the beginning because... So, you're in an accident, you call the police. You call a lawyer. You get treatment right away. You've done all the right things.

When you come to us then and hire us, we take care of everything for you. We will make sure the property damage is paid for. We'll make sure that your medical bills are getting paid for. If you don't have health insurance, we will ask your doctors who we work with, to put a lien on the file, meaning, "Hey, when we settle your case you'll get paid out." And because of our relationships, the doctors we work with are okay. So, we take care of all of that stuff because when people are involved in accidents, they're concerned about lost wages, property damage, medical bills. All of these expenses that add up, and we know all the moving parts and how to handle each one of them. So, when we get back to your first question of the three things; call the police, get medical treatment and hire us. Once you hire us, we help out with all of those bills, expenses, wages, and all of that. 

Speaker 1:

Yeah, thank you. [foreign language 00:47:52].

Okay, so after carrying all the bills, damages, and expenses for the customers, how much your law firm will get from the settlements? 

Michael Agruss:

Sure. So, when people hire us in a personal injury case, we handle cases on a contingency fee. This is important to know, and all personal injury attorneys handle cases on contingency fees. What's different about us is our contingency fee is one-third. Our contingency fee never changes. So, whether we file a lawsuit, we go to trial, that fee never changes. There are firms here in Chicago that charge 40%. There are firms that will charge a third, and then once the lawsuit is filed, it's 40%. Once you go to trial, it's 50%. So, this is something that does set us apart from a lot of other firms out there. We're one-third and we're always a third, and it doesn't change. What viewers should know what's important about a contingency fee is we bear all the risk, we do all the work. We pay for everything out of our own pocket. The only time we get paid or reimbursed is if there's a settlement.

Once in a blue moon, it doesn't happen often, we lose. In that situation our clients never owe us a penny. So, they can hire us for free. Our contingency fee allows us to get paid when the case settles. We front all the costs. There's so much to worry about when you're involved in an accident, and the one thing is when you hire us, you don't have to worry about our fees and costs. I think that's really important because people are worried about lost wages, and medical bills, and property damage, and there's so many other things. What's great is no one pays us a penny until we settle the case.

Speaker 1:

Wow, that's nice. I know it, but I have to express myself like I don't know anything. It's nice. Yeah.

Michael Agruss:

Yeah. Yeah, because normally everyone says how lawyers are expensive. I'm not going to hire one.

Speaker 1:

Right. Mm-hmm (affirmative). The first thing they think of the lawyers is, expensive.

Michael Agruss:

Totally.

Speaker 1:

[foreign language 00:52:35].

Okay, thank you so much, Mike, for being here today. I wish I will see you next week.

Michael Agruss:

Yes, we'll see each other next week. Thanks for having me on.

Speaker 1:

All right. Thank you so much for your helpful information to the audience.

Michael Agruss:

Oh, sure.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. [foreign language 00:55:13].

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