Tips For Settling An Auto Accident On Vsam1040 Chicago Llc

Speaker 1:

Good morning. How are you doing today?

Mike Agruss:

I'm doing well. Thanks for having me on. How are you?

Speaker 1:

Oh, I'm doing okay. I'm going to welcome you back with our talk show right here. Today is Wednesday morning, right? It's a beautiful day at Chicago, and hopefully everything's okay, right? I don't see anything can happen at Chicago city today. Correct?

Mike Agruss:

Yeah, everything's beautiful.

Speaker 1:

Beautiful.

Mike Agruss:

We're having super nice weather.

Speaker 1:

Oh yes. [foreign language 00:00:28].

I just introduced one more time. Of course, people understand and they know why they need to get a good lawyer, get a good firm they can trust. And also, if they have any questions and issues demanding, okay they can contact you on the telephone number on the screen.

Mike Agruss:

Yes.

Speaker 1:

There's a few questions. Last time, when we had a conversation with you last time, with lawyer Taylor, right?

Mike Agruss:

Right.

Speaker 1:

And you. Hopefully, okay, today we'll come up with all the questions and the issues for the audience. Very good. Is there anything you want to tell the audience?

Mike Agruss:

Sure. So my name is Mike Agruss. I'm the managing partner at Agruss Law Firm. We handle personal injury cases, primarily car accidents, dog bites, slip and fall, nursing home abuse.

Speaker 1:

Okay.

Mike Agruss:

Today we're going to talk about car accidents and what to do.

Speaker 1:

Okay, all right. [foreign language 00:02:16].

Yes, go directly to the car accident as you just mentioned. That's very common because there's a ton of cars, and especially there's construction on the highway and local. Then when winter comes, snow, all kinds of things, right? And people, they can get involved into the accident unintentionally. They don't want, right? So what do they need to do, if someone, they get involved into the car accident?

Mike Agruss:

Sure. And we were just talking a minute ago about how nice the weather is here.

Speaker 1:

Right.

Mike Agruss:

I think it's supposed to snow this weekend.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that's what... Okay. That's why I'm asking you, okay, in first. It's beautiful, so we don't expect any car accidents today. Okay.

Mike Agruss:

Well, yeah.

Speaker 1:

We never know.

Mike Agruss:

Wishful thinking. But I think as winter approaches, I think car accidents always increase, fender benders, stuff like that.

Speaker 1:

Right.

Mike Agruss:

Why don't we go step-by-step if you're involved in a car accident?

Speaker 1:

Sure.

Mike Agruss:

So the most important thing after you're involved in a car accident is to make sure you're safe, make sure your passengers are safe, and make sure that anyone else involved in the accident is safe, and then call the police.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. Okay. [foreign language 00:04:35]. Yes.

Mike Agruss:

So you call the police, and then when the police come, what's important is you provide information that the police are going to ask for, which is typically your driver's license and proof of insurance. When you talk to the police, don't admit you are at fault.

Speaker 1:

Yes.

Mike Agruss:

For the viewers of this show in particular, if you have any issues with a language barrier, feel free to ask for a translator.

Speaker 1:

Okay.

Mike Agruss:

Or call the number on the screen here, you can talk to [Wina 00:05:06], and he can help translate. But it's important that you talk to the police when they get there, and explain your side of the story. And once again, ask for a translator, call the phone number on the screen, and someone can help out.

Speaker 1:

Yes. Okay, thank you. That's very important information they need to know, okay. Because when they get involved into the accident, right, sometimes they panic and they don't know what to do, right?

Mike Agruss:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

They don't know what to say.

Mike Agruss:

Right. And actually, we've seen car accidents where there are passengers in the car who didn't talk to the police, and they're not in the police report.

Speaker 1:

Okay.

Mike Agruss:

And not that that's a deal-breaker or anything, but once again, it's important to talk to the police.

Speaker 1:

Okay.

Mike Agruss:

And once again, ask for a translator, call the number on the screen, someone can help out.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, sure.

Mike Agruss:

Even family or friends, you can call a friend and they can help translate to...

Speaker 1:

Right. [foreign language 00:05:59].

Yes, those information that you just mentioned, like the passenger that sits next to driver, or the back passengers, when they get involved sometimes they got hit in the head, or something happened, they don't know, they don't pay attention. Those information, that's very important, right? So we have to report to the police, because that's incorporate writing on the report. Am I correct?

Mike Agruss:

Correct. So when the police come to the scene of the accident, their job is to investigate what happened, speak to all the drivers, speak to all the witnesses, speak to the passengers. And the police will note in the police report whether or not someone reported that they were injured.

Speaker 1:

Right.

Mike Agruss:

So if you are a passenger in a vehicle and you don't talk to the police officer, and obviously if you're able enough to talk to them, you're not going to end up in the police report, and the police officer won't mentioned that you're injured.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Mike Agruss:

And then the police report is the first piece of evidence that the insurance company gets to look at what happened and who was injured.

Speaker 1:

Right.

Mike Agruss:

So very important for everyone at the scene of the accident to talk to the police. And once again, ask for a translator, call family, call friends to help out.

Speaker 1:

Right. That's very interesting information. [foreign language 00:10:08].

Yes. When you mentioned about some people, they get involved into the car accident, they should not admit the fault. Why is it important?

Mike Agruss:

So when you're involved in an accident, and you make sure everyone's okay, you call the police, you want to make sure that you don't tell the police or the other driver, which is common when people are sort of shaken up and scared, "Oh, it was my fault," or, "Oh, I'm sorry," or, "I apologize," because you may not know actually who caused the accident, who was at fault. It's really at the scene of the accident, less is more.

Speaker 1:

Right.

Mike Agruss:

And you only want to talk to the police. You don't want to talk to the other driver, you don't want to talk to other parties involved. And in Illinois, you can still be 50% at fault and recover in a car accident case for your injuries. So even if you were partially at fault, maybe someone ran a stop sign in front of you but maybe you were also driving too fast, you could be found 10, 15, 20% at fault for the accident and you can still recover.

Speaker 1:

Okay.

Mike Agruss:

So you would never want to say, "Oh, I'm sorry I was going so fast," or, "I didn't see you."

Speaker 1:

Right.

Mike Agruss:

Or something like that, because that information you say at the scene of the accident will come back and be used against you.

Speaker 1:

Okay. Wow, that's very interesting. Okay, that's something I just learned today that's new, right? Actually, that's very interesting and is very important, okay, issues everybody supposed to know, right?

Mike Agruss:

Right.

Speaker 1:

I didn't know about the 50%, okay, of the car accident and your fault, but you still can claim it, right?

Mike Agruss:

Correct, and that is state specific. So in Illinois, you can be 50% at fault and still recover in a car accident case. So once again, if you're at the scene of the accident and you think you were maybe going too fast for the weather conditions or whatever it may be, and you said, "Oh I'm sorry, I was going too fast," or, "I'm sorry I didn't see you," something like that will then be put into the police report and then fast forward to your case, during litigation, it can be used against you.

Speaker 1:

Okay. Yes, thanks. [foreign languagem 00:13:52].

It's very good. I just tried to repeat again and again about the 50% fault, and with never admit who was fault, okay. That's very interesting, I never knew about it, until today. Thanks so much, okay? That's good for me when I'm driving, right? I can feel more confidence what I'm doing.

Mike Agruss:

Right. And once again, some car accidents are black and white.

Speaker 1:

Right.

Mike Agruss:

You're waiting at a stoplight, the light is red, and someone rear-ends you.

Speaker 1:

Right, right.

Mike Agruss:

After you'd been stopped for 30 seconds.

Speaker 1:

Yes.

Mike Agruss:

That's a clearcut case, right?

Speaker 1:

Yes.

Mike Agruss:

No one's going to dispute who's at fault. But oftentimes, car accidents are not black and white.

Speaker 1:

Right.

Mike Agruss:

Or maybe the car in front of you stopped quickly and you had to slam on your brakes, and then you were rear-ended.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Mike Agruss:

And there's three cars involved.

Speaker 1:

Right.

Mike Agruss:

You wouldn't want to get out and say, "Oh, I'm so sorry, the guy in front of me stopped fast."

Speaker 1:

Yes.

Mike Agruss:

Because all of a sudden you're saying, even though it's natural, you're saying, "Oh, I'm sorry." Then that would later be translated into being at fault.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Mike Agruss:

So one of the things we were talking about at the beginning, as far as making sure you're safe, calling the police, talking to the police, the next two really important things to do after an accident are make sure you get medical treatment, and then also talk to a lawyer.

Speaker 1:

Yes, okay. Again [foreign language 00:16:57]. Call the police right away. [foreign language 00:17:41]. Lawyer, they're always on your side. [foreign language 00:18:02].

My question, I'm very interested about when you get involved into the accident, usually people, they get nervous and sometimes they panic, they don't know what to say. They just say, "Oh, I'm sorry I hit you," whatever, and admit right away. Why we should never accept our fault? That's what I want to know, okay?

Mike Agruss:

Why?

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Mike Agruss:

At the scene of the accident, you never want to say that?

Speaker 1:

I just want to be honest, right?

Mike Agruss:

Oh, right, right. Once again, and it's a natural reaction where something happens and you say, "Oh, I'm sorry," or, "Oh, it's my fault." What's tricky about that is, it may not actually be your fault, right?

Speaker 1:

Right, right.

Mike Agruss:

Going back to the case where what if someone runs out in front of you, right? A kid runs out in front of your car and you have to slam on the brakes.

Speaker 1:

Right.

Mike Agruss:

If a ball, a dog, or a kid runs out in front of you and you slam on the brakes and someone rear-ends you, and you get out of the car and say, "Oh, I'm so sorry, someone came out. I had to slam on the brakes," all of a sudden you're making it sound like you were driving too fast, you weren't paying attention, and then that information will then get used against you. Where typically in a rear-end accident, the person behind you is at fault, but if you get out and say something... And once again, it's a very natural reaction to say something, right?

Speaker 1:

Right.

Mike Agruss:

We're all human.

Speaker 1:

Right.

Mike Agruss:

And if something happens, people apologize.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Mike Agruss:

But it's real important at the scene of the accident to talk to the police, not say too much, get a lawyer, get medical treatment, and let us, the attorneys, deal with what we're going to say to the insurance company, what we're going to say to the other side.

Speaker 1:

Yes, thank you. Again, [foreign language 00:20:42]. Okay, I am sorry I hit you. [foreign language 00:21:30]. Number one, the first priority [foreign language 00:23:09].

I think most of the information you just mentioned is very important and is very helpful. I think even me, I've been driving for years, at least about 40 years, right? But I never paid attention or called the police because I don't get it for... But mostly I saw the police when a car get involved into an accident. I saw a lot of firetruck, and then the police, and then ambulance, and such and such, right? But I don't pay attention. This is very important, right? It's great. Should I call my insurance if it wasn't my fault?

Mike Agruss:

So tricky question. Yes, you need to notify your insurance if you're involved in an accident.

Speaker 1:

Okay.

Mike Agruss:

The reason I say it's a trick question is, it's much easier to hire us and let us notify all of the insurance companies. And here's the reason. And I can say the moment we get hired to represent someone in a car accident, the first thing we do, is we send out letters to all the insurance companies.

Speaker 1:

Okay.

Mike Agruss:

Letting them know that we represent this client. And the reason being, is because we want the insurance companies to communicate with us.

Speaker 1:

Okay.

Mike Agruss:

You may think, and I think a lot of people think, "Look, it's not my fault, this is my insurance, I'm going to call them and tell them what happened." Here's the problem. If the other driver does not have insurance, the at-fault driver, if they don't have insurance, it expired, whatever the case is, you're going to end up going after your own insurance company. So you then run into the situation of giving information to your own insurance company, which they will then use against you when it comes time to settle your case. So it goes back to what I said about the important things right when an accident happens, make sure people are safe, call the police, get medical attention, and contact an attorney. Let us deal with the insurance company, even your own insurance company, because if you're going to go after your own insurance company because the other driver was driving without insurance, you want to make sure you don't say anything to your own insurance company that they'll use against you.

Speaker 1:

I see, okay.

Mike Agruss:

And it's this big misconception, right, where people are like, "Hey, I'm not at fault, it's my insurance company, they're looking out for me, I'm in good hands, like a neighbor, all that stuff."

Speaker 1:

Right.

Mike Agruss:

Unfortunately, it's not true.

Speaker 1:

No. I see.

Mike Agruss:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Okay.

Mike Agruss:

Yeah, so call us and let us do all of that, right? We'll contact the insurance companies, and we always tell our clients, "You worry about getting better and take care of yourself, let us deal with the insurance company."

Speaker 1:

Okay, all right, thanks. [foreign language 00:25:56].

Yes, I just try to translate in detail because a lot of English work, okay, the people, they understand just... Not thoroughly, okay?

Mike Agruss:

Right.

Speaker 1:

First of all, okay, when we mentioned about the driver at fault, how do we know he's got a fault or us, we've got a fault, right? We don't know, right? So we have to make sure the people don't say, "Well I hit this guy, that's my fault."

Mike Agruss:

Right.

Speaker 1:

Okay, so that's not really true, right? Okay, we have to make sure first what you see, okay, the red light, red, yellow, and green. Green, you're driving, okay, yellow you have to slow down but sometimes you're at the middle, right? You have to go on, right? You can't stop in the middle of the traffic light, right, so you have to go up right? So some people just say, "Oh, well I ran a red light, that's my fault." Not necessarily.

Mike Agruss:

Right, and you bring up a really good point. Intersection car accidents are very common. Nowadays, there's a lot of cameras at intersections.

Speaker 1:

Yes.

Mike Agruss:

So one of the things we do, once again, the moment we're hired we notify insurance companies, but we immediately start our investigation.

Speaker 1:

Yes.

Mike Agruss:

And we see that if there's a camera at an intersection, at a stoplight, we will then send out a request to the city so they preserve that evidence, and we get a copy of the recording.

Speaker 1:

Yes.

Mike Agruss:

We get a copy of it.

Speaker 1:

Yes.

Mike Agruss:

And it is very common at an intersection with traffic lights, where people would say, "I had the green, you had the red," and it's a lot of arguments. And once again, this goes back to the 50% rule in Illinois.

Speaker 1:

Right.

Mike Agruss:

Even if you're partially at fault, up to 50% at fault, you can still recover from the other driver's insurance company.

Speaker 1:

Okay, yes. [foreign language 00:32:29].

Yes, that's very important issues. I see a lot of people, they don't know what to do when they get involved at the traffic light, at the intersection, right? Anyway, we still have a lot of time, right? I'd like to ask you about the insurance. Will my insurance go up after a car accident?

Mike Agruss:

Yeah, very common question, and I tell people all the time, your insurance is always going to go up, whether you're in an accident or not, right?

Speaker 1:

Yes.

Mike Agruss:

Every single year. I mean, for the most part, every single year your insurance goes up, right? So just like you have medical insurance when you go see the doctor, or if you're injured, or you're sick, you would never say, "Oh, don't run this through my insurance. I'm okay, I'll pay this huge bill."

Speaker 1:

Right.

Mike Agruss:

People have insurance for a reason, and you use it.

Speaker 1:

Right.

Mike Agruss:

If you're involved in an accident and it's not your fault, chances are your insurance won't go up. But regardless, peoples' insurance... Just like everything, everything's always getting more expensive.

Speaker 1:

Right.

Mike Agruss:

So I always tell people, don't let that deter you from submitting a claim, pursuing a case. And once again, you're going to go after the at-fault driver's insurance company first, and then if they don't have insurance, or they don't have enough insurance, you then may have a claim against your own insurance company.

Speaker 1:

Yes.

Mike Agruss:

But, you shouldn't be afraid to submit a claim. That's why you have insurance, that's why you're protected. So I tell people don't worry about it. Once again, chances are your insurance is going up anyway.

Speaker 1:

Oh, okay. [foreign language 00:34:37].

Okay, next question I'd like to ask you, how long does an insurance company have to settle an accident car claim?

Mike Agruss:

Our clients ask this all the time. They want to know how long it's going to take, how long does the insurance company have. The answer is, you have two years from the date of the accident to bring a claim and settle a case. When you are involved in an accident, you want to get proper treatment and recover. Once you're done with all of your treatment, and you're back to work, and you feel normal again, what we will do is order all of the records and bills, we'll get evidence of any lost wages, and we basically put together what's called a settlement demand package, where we're getting all the evidence from the accident, including the damages, and we send it to the insurance company with a settlement demand. So to answer your question, once the insurance company has all the information from us, we typically get an answer back from them within 30 days.

Speaker 1:

Okay.

Mike Agruss:

And that's generally how long it takes to get a response from the insurance company. Now sometimes that response is, "Yeah, we're interested in a settlement," and we negotiate. Sometimes the response is, "We need additional information," and we've got to order addition records, maybe from another doctor who our client saw before the accident. And sometimes, the insurance company says, "We've reviewed everything and we're not interested in settling." Generally speaking though, once we sent out that settlement demand, it takes 30 days to get a response from the insurance company, sometimes faster.

Speaker 1:

Okay.

Mike Agruss:

Towards the end of the year, insurance companies want to get these cases off of their books, get things settled, so we tend to get a lot of responses in November and December, settling cases so the insurance companies, at the start of the year, don't have to worry about these cases.

Speaker 1:

Okay. Yes, [foreign language 00:39:14].

Yes, go back to car accident, why they wouldn't receive the money when they don't hire a lawyer. Without the lawyer, what can they do?

Mike Agruss:

Sure. So whether or not you should hire an attorney after getting involved in a car accident, personal injury case. So research shows that if you hire an attorney, you will get three and a half times more money in a settlement then you would if you handled it on your own.

Speaker 1:

Okay.

Mike Agruss:

And this is really important to consider when you're thinking about hiring an attorney. And although we work on a contingency fee, and our contingency fee is one third, which means we get one third of the settlement when we settle your case, if we're averaging three and a half times what you would get if you were on your own, even with our contingency fee, even with our cost, you're still getting way more money in your pocket. So although I wish everyone hired me for their case, whether you hire my firm or not, you should always hire a lawyer. Not only are you going to get a higher settlement, but attorneys are there to help you out as far as dealing with your medical bills dealing with different insurance policies. You may think that there's only coverage from the person who hit you. There could be an umbrella policy, there could be other parties at fault for the accident, not just the person who hit you.

Speaker 1:

Right.

Mike Agruss:

If you were working at the time of the accident, or maybe the person who hit you was working for Uber or Lyft, so then you can go after their insurance company too. So not only from a financial perspective does it make sense, you're going to get more money, and research shows it's three and a half times more, that lawyer's going to be there to explore every single avenue of potential recovery with different insurance companies. And then also what we do, and we're about to get into this in a little bit, but at the end of the case when we settle, we make sure your medical bills are paid, we make sure that any liens any providers have on your claim get settled, and so there are things that can go wrong if you don't hire an attorney if you don't settle your case.

Speaker 1:

Right.

Mike Agruss:

And we see this a lot where people are involved in an accident, and they don't hire a lawyer right away, and the at-fault insurance company reaches out and they say, "Hey, we'll totally take care of you. Don't... We got you, we'll give you money for pain and suffering, we'll give you money for lost wages, we'll even pay for your future medical bills." We've even had cases where they send people a check right away.

Speaker 1:

Right, right.

Mike Agruss:

So it's very enticing to just take that and say, "Okay, I trust the insurance company. They've got my best interest in mind." It's just not the case, unfortunately. So not only should you hire an attorney because you're going to get, research shows three and a half times the settlement, you should also hire an attorney to make sure that everything has been investigated, and when you settle the case, that anyone you owe money to, whether it's a health insurance company, whether it's a doctor, those liens and medical bills are paid for as well.

Speaker 1:

Okay.

Mike Agruss:

You don't want to just take the money and run, and say, "Oh, I'm not getting a lawyer, settle it," because you could be setting yourself up for other lienholders, doctors, health insurance companies coming after you saying, "Hey, you settled your case. I should get paid for the treatment too." So anyway, it's real important. Like I said, I wish everyone hired me, but hire a lawyer, it's very important.

Speaker 1:

Yes, okay. Yes, [foreign language 00:45:39].

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