Welcome to the Ask the Experts Show with local experts in the fields of legal, health, financial, and home improvement. Join us every week for educational information on subjects such as personal injury, family law, home care, tax relief, wealth management, plastic surgery, and air conditioning repairs. Now, sit back and get educated by some of Milwaukee’s finest experts in their field.
Mitch: Good morning and welcome to another episode of Ask the Experts. We’re here on the Big 920, the Big 920.com, streaming nationwide and beyond by the iheartradio app. This is WLKY and my name is Mitch Nelles AKA Thunder. You’re venerable host of this show, I was trying to think of a right adjective there. Today we are joined by our initial guest. Jon Groth from Groth Law Firm joined us about a month ago and he is here this morning. Good morning, Jon.
Jon: Good morning. Groundbreaking guest, actual guest, sure sure.
Mitch: Yeah, yeah. Inaugural guest.
Jon: Inaugural guest. Absolutely.
Mitch: Good to see you again.
Jon: Good to see you.
Mitch: And you are join today in studio by attorney, Melissa Fischer who is Groth Law Firm as well. Good morning, Melissa.
Melissa: Good morning, Mitch.
Mitch: Good to see you.
Melissa: You as well.
Mitch: Bright and early.
Melissa: Very much so.
Mitch: So Jon, last time you talked, you know, we got to meet you and you introduced yourselves and I’ll have you talk a little bit about yourself again, but we’re gonna go to Melissa first. Melissa, tell us a little bit about yourself, where you’re from, how’d you get into law, just you know, your elevator pitch and that sort of thing.
Melissa: Sure, sure. So I have been with the Groth Law Firm for the past two and a half years, but before that I went to Marquette Law School. I was a 2015 grad. Prior to that, I attended the University of Wisconsin Stevens-Point where I majored in business administration with a marketing concentration. Born and raised in Hartford, so about 35 minutes North of here. So a Wisconsin girl for life.
Mitch: So is that where you went to high school?
Melissa: It is, it is.
Melissa: Good old HUHS. So and like I said, I’ve been with the Groth Law Firm for the past about two and half years now, so it’s been a blissful start to the career.
Mitch: Jon, would you concur with that assessment?
Jon: Blissful is a great word.
Jon: Yeah, it’s blissful.
Mitch: That’s good to hear. Jon, why don’t you go ahead and remind us where you’re from and how long you’ve been doing what you’ve been doing.
Jon: Sure, sure. I’m a Milwaukee born and raised kid. I graduated in, well I want to go back to high school. 1993 in high school, a way back when.
Mitch: So you’ve got me by one year. I was ‘94.
Jon: Oh, am I just an old man, aren’t I?
Mitch: The oldest man in the room.
Jon: That’s true. Sadly so, I graduated from Marquette Law in 2000 and I’ve been a personal injury attorney since then. Before that, I worked at an injury firm in Chicago and that’s where I kind of got the bug and I really enjoyed helping people out and advocating for people. I then worked for a firm in Waukasha where I did litigation. I really enjoy doing litigation and then worked for one of the bigger personal injury firms in Wisconsin and that’s kind of where it all goes from there. I then started Groth Law Firm in 2010.
Jon: So for the past seven years, we’ve been out and about and we just moved our office to about 111th and Bluemound, so we’re as easy as we can be to find.
Mitch: Yep, 111th and Bluemound. Right off of Bluemound and Highway 100 by Moe’s. Everybody knows where Moe’s Irish Pub is.
Mitch: Exactly. Jon just used the words helping and advocating and I don’t think those are necessarily two words that jump out to people when they think about lawyers. Talk about what you guys do special at Groth Law Firm that really makes those two words important to what you do.
Melissa: Thanks, Mitch. I agree that you don’t hear that a whole lot when you think about hiring an attorney and things like that, but I would have to say that at Groth Law Firm and of course that is in my career since I’ve graduated the only place I’ve practiced, but I have worked at a few other firms just clerking and doing other things like that and certainly have friends from law school that work in many other firms. So we do talk about that. What I think Groth law firm does maybe differently in the helping and the advocating, and that’s where this comes in, is that we take an individual approach with clients. So a client calls in, they’ll get an attorney on the phone. That’s where the individual portion of it comes in. We don’t have our paralegals handling the cases until litigation. We take clients, I don’t want to say hand-by-hand, but we walk them through the entire process. Even if it’s a potential client call, they’ll speak with an attorney. It won’t necessarily be an intake specialist or anything like that, so along the whole process we want to work with them, help them, and advocate for them.
Mitch: So I have to imagine that makes a number of your clients and even potential clients feel quite comfortable. You know, I’m not in the position where I’ve called a number of law firms for issues, but I like the idea that if I’m calling a law firm, I’m talking to a lawyer. I’m not talking to someone who is in law school or someone who’s been trained in law, but isn’t officially a lawyer. I like that.
Mitch: So John, how did you come to that, that was something that is important to you?
Jon: Here’s an experience and I’m seeing what’s going on at other places and really trying to differentiate yourself. There’s a lot of us out there. Lots of personal injury attorneys and you can go online and find many more that you never even knew existed because I just saw yesterday that there are advertisers in the Wisconsin Google Market I’ll call it, and you go on the Google machine and type in personal injury and there’s attorneys in California I saw yesterday and a gentleman in New York who is a New York personal injury attorney, but he’s running ads in Wisconsin.
Mitch: I wanna talk to somebody here. And you guys are here, but second of all, I want to talk to one of you.
Mitch: Or a lawyer in the law firm opposed to someone who I’m picturing I call up a law firm, they have a piece of paper, they have their checklist, blah blah blah and then they decide whether I talk to a lawyer or not. I like the idea that I talk to a lawyer.
Jon: And that’s the difference. And that’s what we’ve been looking at over the past seventeen years. The experience was, you’re looking at ways you can differentiate yourself and listen to clients and potential clients to figure out what they want or what they wanted and why they did or did not choose your firm and then say okay, well this is really not only what people are looking for, number one, but it really helps us advocate for those people, number two, because when you’re meeting with the person for the first time, you’re getting information from them. And then as you’re taking your notes and entering into the computer and going through things, you can be able to advocate for them and you know the tricks of the trade and there are certain that you can then use maybe six months from now, but that’s something that you gathered at the intake. Maybe the intake specialist or somebody else who is asking certain questions didn’t have the same experience that you did or certainly if that person if they aren’t an attorney and haven’t tried a case, they don’t have the experience as what somebody says December 2015 may hurt them December 2018 when a trial takes place. So you want to make sure that you’re aware of it and that you are involved from the get-go so have really the whole picture and you can help them and you can advocate for them when you’re getting in front of a jury.
Mitch: That makes a lot of sense. Jon Groth and Melissa Fischer joining me today from Groth Law Firm here on Ask the Experts. So Melissa, take us through the process a little bit. So something went wrong, something happened, and I need a lawyer. And I call you at 375-2030, 414-375-2030 and I get connected to you.
Melissa: What happens next.
Mitch: What happens, yeah. Because I don’t know.
Melissa: To start that off I do want to say that if the accident happens at all hours of the night, we do always have an attorney on call. So there’s five of us attorneys and somebody is assigned a week, so anytime of day we will take the call. When we see a message come through, we will get back in touch momentarily.
Melissa: So, you know from the initial call, we would go though and we have a like you said, its an intake form and its very thorough, so we want to gather as much information as we can. You know, the date of the incident, contact information for the person first and foremost. Name, address, phone number. What are the injuries, is the car damaged, who are the different players. So do you have auto insurance, does the other driver have auto insurance, did the police come. So all these important details that when you call the insurance company to let them know that you’re working with this individual and that they are going to ask so that you have that at your disposal.
Mitch: So the information that you have, or that you collect, or that you remember, the better that first conversation goes. Because I’m guessing that a lot of people that call up don’t have that information and then say well here’s your homework.
Melissa: Correct, correct, or it’s in the police report, which we will certainly gather that as well. After that, that’s when we go through in our office and sometimes we round table these cases because every case is different, the facts and the circumstances. Is this a person that we are able to help. Can we handle this case. If so, we go ahead and we get the file up and running, we get a signed retainer from the client, sit down with them, give them more details about our firm, take them through the retainer agreement and make sure they understand.
Mitch: So I’m gonna break in right there too. So when I make that first call the first thing you’re asking me for isn’t the retainer information. You know, because I would have the perception like okay I’m calling a law firm, how much is this going to cost me just to make this first phone call? It sounds like first phone call, I don’t want to say is free, but is part of the process.
Jon: It’s free, yeah.
Melissa: It is really. You hear the phrase free consultation, but truly that’s what it is.
Mitch: Okay. That’s good to know. Because again, if I’m making that phone call, I don’t know my perception, and you guys can be mad at me because you guys are the lawyers in the room, my perception is that one of those first questions would be okay, just so you know, I got your name and I got your insurance information and I got there was an accident. Now I need your credit card information because this phone call is a hundred dollars and then we’ll set something up after that. So that’s not necessarily the case.
Melissa: I think just the notion in today’s society that time is money that that is a good, honest first thought when somebody is calling up, but we explain to them because that is again, a question that we get quite frequently.
Melissa: If we get before going through the retainer agreement with the client, we certainly will face that head on and go through the fee structure with them, but we tell them right upfront that this is a contingency fee agreement. I think we say it’s the last sentence of the second paragraph of the agreement is the most important one. In that it says, we do not recover if you do not recover. If nothing is recovered, nothing is owed to the law firm. They don’t charge us hourly, we don’t require a retainer fee upfront it’s strictly that contingency basis.
Mitch: Got it. So I’ve made the call, we’ve had the conversation. You guys may be have round tabled and decided that it is a case you’re going to take. Then what?
Jon: Well this is important because we were just talking about this the other day, that people have the thought, it’s a misconception, that once we call an attorney it’s going into suit. We have a lawsuit or we have a lawyer there or the lawyer is filing a lawsuit immediately or things like that. That’s something that a lawsuit is a very formal situation and Melissa can talk about this, she’s been in depositions it seems every other day these past few weeks.
Jon: Depositions and such are very formal proceedings and that’s what happens when you’re in a lawsuit. In the very beginning, the goal from the get go and all along is to try to settle the case without a lawsuit because a lawsuit means more stress, more work, very formalized process. So when you first call, there’s a claim or case, but not necessarily a lawsuit.
Mitch: Got it. Alright, so let’s talk a little bit more about that process when we come back. Jon Groth and Melissa Fischer are here with me from Groth Law Firm. Go to groth G-R-O-T-H grothlawfirm.com, that’s grothlawfirm.com. You can call them at 414-375-2030, that 375-2030. They are on 111th and Bluemound in Tosa. John and Melissa, we’ll be right back in Ask the Experts.
Mitch: And welcome back to Ask the Experts here on the big 920, the big 920.com streaming nationwide and beyond by the iheartradio app. Mitch Nelles here with you this early Sunday morning for Ask the Experts and today my guests from Groth Law Firm are Jon Groth and Melissa Fischer. And I see you guys brought your own coffee and you didn’t bring me a cup this morning, so thank you. No, I brought my own, I’m just kidding, I just had to, didn’t you get my coffee last time?
Jon: I did get you coffee last time, oh I messed up this time. Next time.
Mitch: Now you’ve set the precedent that you don’t have to bring any coffee for me.
Jon: There you go.
Mitch: I don’t know if I like that precedent.
Jon: I am fine with that precedent. Thank you.
Mitch: Absolutely. So Jon, Melissa, thanks so much for joining us this morning. To find them, go to grothlawfirm.com, that’s G-R-O-T-H, grothlawfirm.com and you can find their bios and find out that Melissa was involved in competitive dance when she was growing up and which is actually very cool and is involved in a number of fundraisers around the community as well, we can get into that, but she..
Jon: She did one yesterday.
Mitch: Oh really?
Melissa: We did.
Mitch: Awesome. Very cool.
Melissa: We hosted it, it was call Race for Your Reason, it was hosted at the Corners of Brookfield. It’s a 5K run one-mile walk, we had a great turnout. The interesting thing about this event was there were five different causes or charities you could choose which reason you were racing.
Mitch: Oh, that’s pretty neat.
Melissa: So you could pick whatever charity you wanted your money to go towards or you could split it between the five if not one really stuck out at you. So it was unique in that respect.
Mitch: Wow, sounds like a great event.
Melissa: And Groth Law Firm was a big sponsor in that.
Jon: There we go.
Mitch: Awesome. Doing good things in the community. I love you.
Jon: We try, we certainly do.
Mitch: Absolutely, so before the break, we were talking a little bit and Jon, you mentioned that oftentimes the goal is to settle without a lawsuit because a lawsuit means more time and time is money, more money itself, more headaches, more stress, and I’ll say more time again. Because it’s not, I can’t imagine but I just fell like I know that when you’re in a lawsuit, it drags and drags and there’s motions and there’s this and there’s that. So Melissa, if I’m working with you guys, and we’re going through the process and we’ve done the intake and you guys have met and then you decide to take on the case and so then what happens if I’m the client and I’m kind of here’s my case and we have a good case and we’re going to get hopefully the money or the restitution or whatever is due. How does the process go, especially if we’re talking about settling without a lawsuit?
Melissa: That is a great question because I think the common misconception nowadays just from TV shows and movies it seems that in a movie, somebody meets with a lawyer and then the next scene, they’re in the courtroom and that is not how it works.
Mitch: That is how movies work.
Melissa: In real life, that is not, at least in our arena..
Mitch: So you don’t take the case and then everybody gets in the Batmobile and drives down to the courthouse?
Melissa: Well, in this case, it’d be the girl’s mobile.
Mitch: Exactly, good point.
Melissa: So, no. And again for us, we practice exclusively personal injury so we do this day in and day out, so to us it’s second nature, but at times we do need to take a step back because more often than we get the question, “when am I going to court?” And you can’t blame them because that’s what they see on TV and that’s what they see in movies and in books and what not, so what we explain to them is that at this point there is not active litigation. This is not a lawsuit, you know, folks hear the word lawyer and think lawsuit. At first, it starts off like Jon said as an insurance claim most times.
Melissa: So we contact the insurance company, put them on notice of our representation, and we kind of go through the process that way. Most of the times in many of our cases, the clients are injured, so there’s not a whole lot we can do until they’re done treating for their injuries.
Melissa: So it’s at the forefront of the case, it’s primarily dependent upon how long until they are at usually what they call an end of healing. So like they are either as good as they were before the accident or a doctor says they’re as good as they’re gonna get.
Mitch: Okay, that’s fair. They usually don’t get even better though, you know, that old joke? Doctor, am I gonna be able to play the piano after this operation? Sure. Great, I’ve never been able to play before. That usually doesn’t happen.
Melissa: Right, you don’t acquire skills usually.
Mitch. Right, so how long does that process, and I’m guessing it’s different for everybody, but what have you seen, ya know? What different timetables have you seen for the healing process, for then figuring out alright, here’s what all the hospital bills cost, and here’s all the time missed at work cost, and here’s all the hiring someone to drive your kids around because you couldn’t drive, ya know. I’m guessing all of that goes into the number that people are looking just to get back whole again. You know, they’re not, I’m sure some people get in an accident and say, “oh, I’m going to get rich off this,” but I’m guessing most people just want to be whole again.
Melissa: Absolutely. And again, it is largely dependent on the extent of the injuries. So if it’s a, they kinked their neck a little bit, they may need 4-6 weeks of physical therapy or whatever it may be. If they fractured something, they may need surgery. It can fo anywhere from a couple weeks to many many months or even years, depending on the injuries.
Mitch: Can Aaron Rogers sue Anthony Barr for breaking his shoulder?
Jon: There’s probably some contractual thing there, that he can’t. They’d have to go through arbitration or something like that.
Mitch: I’m not so concerned about Aaron, I just wish that like, in football, instead of your backup being your quarterback then, maybe you could get the restitution of that you get someone of equal value as your quarterback.
Jon: Well but, who else is of that same level? I mean.
Mitch: It’s true. That’s a good point.
Jon: Yeah, and I would never want Brady to come play for the Packers.
Mitch: Then you’re wrong.
Jon: And he’s not as good as Rogers.
Mitch. Right, of course. When we’re talking about making restitution and making people whole again. What is involved in that? You know, I mentioned a few of the things. The missing work, hospital bills, childcare, whatever. Is literally everything in our life affected when you have, depending on the injury of course, but when you have an injury?
Jon: Well, yes. I would say that everything in your life is affected. Let me go back a little bit and just say that, when you’re looking at what you’re including there are some places maybe it’s movies or books or radio ads or TV ads that they say, “get in a wreck, get a check.” And it’s really a fast a process or there’s the hope that it’s a fast process. I think my experience is and I think our goal is that in all honesty, it’s not a fast process because we don’t want to leave that stone unturned because what if you settle too soon? Years and years ago, this is a true story, I had a case, we settled for an amount of money and literally a year later, my client, I’ll call him Jamie, or Jame or Jim or whatever I’ll call him, Jim comes and says, “Hey Jon, can I make another claim for x, y, z?” And I was like, “No.” We can’t, we settled. I think about that all the time because I want to make sure that when I’m talking to my clients, that they understand that if we settle that that’s all.
Mitch: That’s it, you’re done.
Jon: That’s all you’re ever going to get for this claim, so we gotta make sure that we’re putting everything into that basket now because we’re not gonna be able to come back and this is something that I know I said in my closing arguments before juries and other attorneys in the office have said this similar thing that when you’re in your closing argument and you’re talking to the jury about what amount of money they should award your client,. What they should write down on that special verdict and compensation, we tell them that you can’t come back six years from now or ten years from now and check in and say hey, did you really only need fifteen sessions of physical therapy? Hey, here’s a couple more because we forgot or we didn’t think this or that. You can’t, so you have to include all. You get one kick at the cat usually and that’s it. So, being thorough and trying to include everything in is important and then that goes with your question, it’s everything from certainly the doctor’s bills, and that includes the actual bills, the copays, things like that. And then working with them to make sure that the bills don’t go into collections. To do whatever we can to try to get those bills paid so you’re not hurting your credit. To pain and suffering, that’s this magic number that no one really knows what it is, but through our experience, we can figure out what juries award for pain and suffering and such. Wage loss, loss of earning capacity is kind of the way we say it in our world. Mileage to the doctor.
Jon: So, is it 27 cents, 51 cents, whatever the government has at that period of time.
Mitch: This month.
Jon: For this month. And it can go down to if I broke my leg and I would mow the lawn and now I can’t so now I have to..
Mitch: Hire a neighborhood kid to mow the lawn.
Jon: Hire Jimmy Joe down the street to come mow it and that’s 20 bucks, that’s something we include also. So all those incidental costs and there could be dozens and dozens of those possibilities those incidentals are, but it’s the whole gamut and making sure we have all that included when we’re submitting the claim initially to the insurance company to settle pre-suit and if the insurance company says that they don’t believe you or there isn’t a way that we can max your case, I think we talked last time trying to get the at-fault party, the insurance company to offer as much as possible.
Jon: And then trying to get the paybacks, paying back health insurance or doctors or whomever to take as little as possible and that difference is what we can get for you and that’s really how we earn our keep. We try to max your case, if we can do that pre-suit, great. If we can’t then the next step is filing a lawsuit and then you go into that very formal process.
Mitch: Absolutely. I want to talk a little bit about that process. I also want to talk about something that you just touched on. That idea of paybacks and that idea of you know, how do you maximize the effect of becoming whole again, and again I’m not talking about getting rich and making money off somebody I got in a fender bender and you know, pain and suffering is two million dollars. I’m not talking about that, I’m just talking about something you guys talk about a lot, making someone whole again and how that process happens because I have a couple questions about that. So we’re gonna talk about that when we come back. This is Ask the Experts on the Big 920, thebig920.com, and the iheartradio app. We are joined today by Melissa and Jon. Jon Groth and Melissa Fischer from Groth Law Firm. Go to grothlawfirm.com, that’s groth, G-R-O-T-H, grothlawfirm.com. Right here on Ask the Experts.
Mitch: This is Ask the Experts on the Big 920, thebig920.com, streaming nationwide and beyond by the iheartradio app, it’s a free app, get it on your phone today. Thank you for sharing your Sunday morning with us, my name is Mitch Nelles and today our guests on Ask the Experts are Jon Groth and Melissa Fischer from Groth Law Firm. They’re on 111th and Bluemound. You can call them, 414-375-2030. 414-375-2030 or visit their website at grothlawfirm.com. Groth Law Firm, skilled, dedicated, and proven. Before the last break, we were talking with Melissa and Jon about, I mean the entire discussion is really process oriented. So I get in an accident, then what do I do? Okay, I’ve had a conversation with you, then what do I do? Okay, the police got involved, what do I do? The other person has insurance, doesn’t have insurance, what do I do? And we’re at the point where I have doctor bills, Jon you made the example I broke my leg and so I can’t mow the lawn so I gotta pay the neighborhood kid 20 bucks every week to mow the lawn. My, I, because I broke my leg I can’t drive, so it’s great that I have other parents in the neighborhood to drive my kids around for carpool, but every once in awhile, you know, I gotta pay that same high school, ya know, knock on wood they have a good driving record, I’m paying a high schooler to drive my kid home from school because there’s no one else to give a ride. I’m guessing there are twenty other situations where you know, you have to pay somebody where you weren’t paying somebody because you can’t drive or you can’t turn your head or you can’t whatever, you know, whatever it may be. My question is, how do you people pay for that? I mean, ya know, I think about what I do for a living and what most people do for a living and ya know, we try to retain as much wealth as we can and people try to save and people try to, ya know, there’s an emergency fund and ya know, if you have to dip into your kid’s college fund, but from the horror stories, medical bills are ridiculous and insane and ya know, we could talk about our country’s medical system without hope, but we’re gonna avoid that. What do people do when the bills just start mounting up and mounting up and mounting up? How do they take care of that?
Jon: I wish I had a magic wand that I could solve this problem, but it is something where if you look at, so somebody comes in and they look at the situation and you’re trying to figure out, okay, how are you getting by? One of the questions we ask is “Do you have short-term disability?” Do you have the Aflac goose or it’s a duck I think.
Melissa: it’s a duck.
Mitch: It’s a duck.
Jon: So do you have the duck who..
Jon: Do you have any kind of short-term disability or disability insurance that can get you by, number one. Number two, your doctors, who are you going to? Do you have health insurance that’s going to be covering the majority of the doctors’ bills, but then you’re stuck paying your copay or maybe you have deductible to meet. So then you look at what kind of auto insurance do you have which is Med Pay and Med Pay is meant to kind of fill in the gaps there. But that just takes us through what the medical expenses are. Now if you have to get into a car and go to the doctor, that goes back to our ability or our network and our friends or people we’ve done business with in the past. What connections do we have that we can help you get to the doctor and get to physical therapy and there are those Med Transport vans you see like ATI Physical Therapy, for example, they have people on staff that they’ll drive you to and from visits and things like that.
Jon: There’s other companies that you can hire.
Mitch: But how do pay them?
Jon: There are companies you can hire that will, in essence, take a letter of protection. What that means is that when you have an attorney, the company that trusts that the attorney is gonna do their job and pay them back in the end. And they really, it’s a handshake deal, it’s in writing..
Mitch: Right, right.
Jon: It’s an actual letter that says, we will protect your fifty dollar cab ride, I guess I’ll call it.
Jon: Or your fee to get so and so from here to there. Things like that. Or, if you don’t have health insurance and you have very little Med Pay for example, but you have to get care, there are certain providers, there are certain companies we can get you to. There are medical providers in the area that work with charities. The children’s hospital, they have a charitable wing, Aurora has the same thing.
Jon: There are other smaller clinics around town that we have worked with and that we have an experience with that they’ll trust us to say okay, in the end, we’ll work with them to get their bill paid and they’ll see somebody and not ask for that copay every time and not gonna add that added stress.
Mitch: Right, cause part of that scary part is what you guys talked about, is the time. It’s not a flip the switch, I mean, yeah we talked about it last time how nice it would be if the insurance company just took care of everything and you don’t have to worry about it and what a great world that would be.
Mitch: What a great world that would be if we had a Utopia, but it’s not that way and so it can take months or even years sometimes to finalize everything and to be able to pay everything back and you know on some level it’s comforting to know that there these companies out there who do, you know, have signed contracts, but who do things on credit and do things based on expected return I’m guessing.
Mitch: And part of that is betting on the cup, ya know. They’re betting that the money’s gonna come and I’m guessing they have the number, I’m guessing you have the numbers of what percent ends ups coming and what percent doesn’t and which insurance companies they’ll look at they’ll say yeah that company usually takes care of people and this one doesn’t. I’m sure all those numbers are out there.
Jon: And really they have to trust our advice and trust us that when we say hey, can you in essence front a hundred bucks that we understand that they’re gonna get paid back a hundred bucks later on. Or a hundred five or whatever they’re gonna charge.
Mitch: Right, yep.
Jon: The worst case scenario and this is something that we see pretty frequently because these companies run advertisements on I guess daytime TV or things like that, where these pre-settlement finance companies. Where there are these companies that say hey, if you’re injured, we can get you money literally today. And they will wire money..
Mitch: Yeah, at what percent?
Jon: It’s like 50 percent.
Jon: I mean some of these places are forty some percent. There are some places that are more local, there’s a Chicago company. There’s actually a company in Oak Creek here in Wisconsin that loans money more like on a credit card basis where it’s about eighteen to twenty percent, that’s a lot more reasonable.
Mitch: Okay, I was gonna say at least that’s in line with what credit cards are as opposed to some of these companies it sounds like are just absurd.
Jon: Oh, it’s crazy. There’s, boy, what was the last case? We had a really extreme situation where the payback was 15,000 dollars and I think the initial amount was like four five thousand dollars. So that’s just crazy. Because now you’re…
Mitch: Talk about not getting whole again.
Jon: Oh my goodness, well yeah, you just paid ten thousand dollars for this company to, uh, you know, it’s a very bad situation.
Mitch: I can see the steam coming out of you. One of the things we were talking about last time and I kind of want to get back to with you Melissa is this concept of alright, so we’re going through this whole process and there’s dollar amounts, there’s pain and suffering, there’s this, but a lot of times that doesn’t necessarily mean it goes full into a suit. Ya know.
Mitch: So it goes, ya know, in that it’s very formal. But before you’re that or during that process, ya know, I heard the word depositions and I think I know what that means, what does that mean?
Melissa: So a deposition is a very formal proceeding that actually takes place after a suit is filed and so I’ve lots of these in the past three weeks, so they’re very fresh in my mind.
Melissa: But again, it’s a very formal proceeding and I think it’s a term that’s thrown around in the legal community so folks have heard it and might wonder it is. It’s a formal proceeding that once a case is formally in suit, it’s assigned a case number, assigned a judge. Then you start the discovery process, so each side is essentially preparing their case a trial.
Melissa: Because that’s essentially how far this could go if it does not resolve. And so you start with written discovery, so you send a series of questions back and forth between the parties, they have thirty to forty-five days to answer them.
Mitch: So they’re given time?
Melissa: Time, exactly.
Mitch: They don’t get it back in twenty-four to forty-eight hours?
Melissa: Oh no, never. And then the next step once you have your written discovery done, then they have an idea, a general idea, of what you’re going to talk about so they say now we want to sit down with you. They’ve had time to gather your client’s medical records they now, usually their medical records from ten years before the accident too.
Mitch: Sure, all pre-existing conditions.
Melissa: Exactly, so they’re very well versed. So once the parties are ready then they will usually send a notice of deposition saying we want to sit down and actually talk to your client. That is their one opportunity before trial to sit down and see what kind of person you know, your client is and just really get some more information that might be too much to gather with written questions.
Mitch: Are you allowed to be there for that?
Mitch: Okay, so if I…
Jon: We have to be there.
Mitch: I just want to make sure that if I get called in and they want an opportunity, that I have a friendly face in the room as well.
Melissa: Absolutely. Any party to the lawsuit is allowed to be there. So, ya know, if I’m deposing the at-fault driver my client could essentially sit in if he or she chose to as well. So any party is allowed to be there and usually what I tell clients in preparing them for depositions is the reason for depositions really is two-fold. First, and foremost, the defense attorney wants to get to know you. They want to see what kind of person you are and see how well you might present to a jury because that definitely factors into what they might be willing to offer.
Melissa: If they think you’re an easily agitated person, you’re not gonna present well, I think that’s going to devalue the case in their eyes and they’re going to take it back to their adjuster and say, you know, we want to put this person on the stand.
Melissa: A jury may not like them. On the flipside, if you present well…
Mitch: If you’re buttoned up.
Mitch: I’m guessing you guys provide some of that training sometimes if somebody needs it.
Jon: Yeah. My old saying was perception is reality.
Mitch: Sure, absolutely.
Jon: It’s probably not right, but we’re not in Utopia like you said. You have to understand that there is the way you present to the other side and this is some attorney who has a whole different life experience certainly. How you present to them is gonna really factor into how they then go back to the insurance company and say what their opinions are. And many times, their opinion is dead wrong and there is that one case where it was years afterward and they even refused to pay property damage. I think it was four years later.
Melissa: Four and a half.
Jon: Four and a half. The insurance company didn’t pay for the property damage to the vehicle because they didn’t like the injured people. It was crazy.
Mitch: They just didn’t like them.
Jon: Didn’t like them.
Mitch: So they withheld payment.
Jon: They thought that, in essence, that it was a scam.
Melissa: But they were money hungry.
Jon: That they were money hungry, but it was crazy because our clients were sitting at a stoplight, was it stop sign or stoplight?
Jon: At a stoplight and were rear-ended.
Jon: Well how in any world…
Mitch: How could you set that up?
Jon: Yeah, exactly.
Jon: So those kinds of situations that was just one person’s opinion on somebody else’s life choices and life experiences and then we had to go all the way to trial and that’s why it took forever for other reasons too, but finally, Melissa tried the case and we got what should have been paid in any other situation three or four years earlier.
Mitch: Yeah. So we go into depositions and I meet with the lawyer and its ongoing and they like me or they don’t like me or whatever. Can you still settle at that point? Or once you’re in depositions with a suit, do you have to go to court? How does that work?
Melissa: You absolutely do not have to go to court. Usually after a deposition, and I want to go back, I said there were two primary reasons for the deposition, the one was to get to know you and this is their one opportunity to speak with you prior to trial. The second is just so that, you know, they can gather more information for the eventual, potential, trial I guess I’ll say and if you testify different on trial, they use that against you, but after depositions typically what the next step is a mediation. If a case is going to settle, nine and half times out of ten, it will be at mediation.
Mitch: Got it. That makes sense. So you’re still, I don’t know exactly how to say this perception of what, but ya know, I think we have the perception that a lot of the time personal injury lawyers don’t see courtrooms. And it sounds like the goal is to not see the courtroom, but the goal you guys are firm believers in, the goal is not to be done with the case tomorrow.
Mitch: The goal is to do what’s right, by the client.
Jon: Correct. And that’s really, it’s somewhat different than some other firms where I tell my clients early on that this might be an odd relationship or an odd thing to discuss our relationship, but we may be in a long-term relationship together because I don’t want to sell your case too early.
Jon: Because we’re gonna leave things off the table. So you have to make sure that you like us and that we’re gonna be able to get along for maybe years upon years.
Melissa: And I think that is the cardinal sin that we could commit as personal injury attorneys is to settle a case before its ready to be resolved. We want to make sure that everything is accounted for and that something will not come up years down the road. Even months or years down the road.
Mitch: Jon Groth and Melissa Fischer are here from Groth Law Firm. G-R-O-T-H, grothlawfirm.com. Give them a call, 414-375-2030. Taking you through the process today. We’ll come back and discuss a little bit more and wrap things up on this Sunday morning. Jon Groth, Melissa Fischer from Groth Law Firm, this is, Ask the Experts.
Mitch: You’re listening to Ask the Experts on the Big 920, thebig920.com, streaming nationwide and beyond by the iheartradio app. Today, Jon Groth and Melissa Fischer are here from Groth Law Firm. They’re taking on us through the process if you’ve been injured if you’ve been hurt in an accident, what to do, how to go through the process, and as they’re sharing with us today, it’s not an overnight process. The process needs to be done the right way and it’s not like you have second and third and fourth chances. It has to be done the right way the first time. Jon, you were sharing with me a little bit off the air about how important it is to remember that. That things need to be done the right way and that you know, yes I got injured and my car is broken and I need a new car and you know, this is what the medical bills are going to be, but it really isn’t an overnight process.
Jon: And it’s an adversarial process where the insurance companies in business to take in as much as they can in premiums and pay out as little as possible in claims. That’s how they make money and that’s fine. It’s America, they can do what they want and they’re doing quite well as you can see from Acuity’s flag or their new structure in Am Fam’s, or the Am Fam theater or whatever it’s called now, but they’re doing well. They have teams and teams of paralegals and attorneys and such that are advocating for them and they literally have consultants that come and go and talk to their adjusters. Sometimes there are different pre-suit or pre-repped adjusters than there are repped adjusters. Kind of like in that old movie, Office Space where the one guy says I can talk to regular people or something like that, right?
Mitch: Right, right.
Jon: There are adjusters that just deal with people who are injured parties who don’t have attorneys because that’s their skill and the reason they do that is because they’re trying to do what they can for the insurance company. They’re not advocating for you. So they can be kind of complex and that’s what’s we want to do. We want to help that injured person to really take the stress away so they can worry about just getting better and we’ll worry about the stress of whether we cross our T’s or dot our I’s or say the right or the wrong thing to the insurance company, that’s on us. We don’t want you to say, okay well I need to talk to the insurance company, I’m gonna google what should I say to the insurance company because if you get something from New Mexico, it’s gonna be different from Wisconsin and there might be a guy in New York who says something different. You know, it can really be complex. I’m sure you could figure it out over a matter of days or however long it’s gonna take, but you shouldn’t worry about that. You should worry about getting better, number one and let us help you to advocate for yourself. Get you to the right doctor and get you to the are you need and really have it where you can not have to worry about did I say the right thing, did I sign the right thing, did I do the right thing when I talked to the insurance company?
Mitch: And Melissa, I think one of my main takeaways talking with you is that when I call Groth Law Firm, I’m going to be talking with a lawyer and we’re going to get to the, you know, to me that starts the process a little more quickly, but it’s also more thorough. You have the experience that when you’re talking to somebody, you know what you’re asking for, you know what, you know the questions to ask, you know how to make people feel comfortable.
Melissa: Right. It goes back to that individual approach that I opened with when we began talking this morning. It’s just that whether it’s pre-suit or it’s in-suit, the attorney will be walking the client through it step-by-step.
Mitch: I think that’s great. Melissa Fischer, Jon Groth, thank you so much for taking the time with me this morning.
Jon: Thank you.
Melissa: Thank you, Mitch.
Mitch: Absolutely. For more information visit grothlawfirm.com. That’s G-R-O-T-H, grothlawfirm.com. Give them a call, 414-375-2030. 414-375-2030. They’re right at 111th and Bluemound in Tosa just West of Highway 100. 111th and Bluemound, you can’t miss them. For Jon Groth and Melissa Fischer, this is the Big 920, thebig920.com, and the iheartradio app. My name is Mitch Nelles and this is Ask the Experts.
Thanks for tuning in to Ask the Experts. Join us again next Sunday morning between 8 and 9 for more Ask the Experts from local experts in their field.