Michael Speaks On Radio Waves
Michael B. Brehne was a guest speaker on "Radio Waves" with host Kris Poliquin. Watch the interview or read the transcript below.
00:12 – 00:48
Kris Poliquin: Hello and welcome to Radio Waves. I'm your host Kris Poliquin and this is a production of Red Apples Media. We're broadcasting out of WLBE 790 AM Real Country out of Leesburg, Florida. And if you're watching us on television you're doing so on Lake Sumter TV, Comcast Channel 13, Bright House 498 and CenturyLink Prism, Channel 83. So today I've invited Michael Brehne from the Law Offices of Michael Brehne to talk to us a little bit about what he does, the services he provides and to give us some do's and don'ts in the legal field. Michael, thanks for coming onto the show.
Michael Brehne: It's my pleasure.
00:49 – 00:56
Kris: All right. So let's get into it. Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you kind of got into law.
00:57 – 00:01:26
Michael: Well born and raised in New Jersey and always loved law enforcement. I wanted to be a police officer since I was probably in Kindergarten. And so I went to the University of Florida, I got a degree in criminology and law, and went right to the Orlando Police Department. When I was at the Orlando Police Department I did everything that I could do. I was a field training officer, I was on the emergency response team and I went to the detective bureau after only three and a half years, and investigated major crimes.
01:28 – 00:01:34
Michael: Yes, I decided I think I'm going to take my investigative experience to the next level and go to law school.
01:35 – 01:37
Kris: So how long have you had your practice then?
01:38 – 01:41
Michael: My own practice, over 19 years. I've been a lawyer over 21 years.
01:43 – 00:01:57
Kris: Wow. Okay. So you know, I got to ask, because I would assume there's a huge benefit to having that practical experience in law enforcement to law. Do you think that has changed the way you conduct business?
01:58 – 00:02:02:45
Michael: Undoubtedly and I'll tell you why. When you're on patrol you can get a call into the highest end neighborhood in central Florida and speak to multi-millionaires who are CEOs of companies and then the next call will come out and you'll be in the most poverty-stricken, crime-ridden neighborhoods and you have to be able to speak to them so that they understand, and you have to be able to speak to the CEOs so that they understand. And it teaches you a great variety of approaches to people, and also in my experience, it's given me a great opportunity to learn how to read people. So when I'm taking depositions I know when things are going to the right or to the left and I need to keep people straight.
02:46 – 02:48
Michael: And so I've used that experience to help me do that.
02:49 – 00:02:56
Kris: Okay. Now what do you specialize in? Do you have any particular specialty or do you have a very broad range of services you provide?
02:57 – 00:03:19
Michael: Two aspects of my law firm I would say I concentrate in would be injury law, which would be motorcycle accidents, automobile accidents, slip and falls, premises liability cases and the other aspect is insurance litigation. I represent people against their own insurance companies when their insurance company doesn't treat them fairly.
03:20 – 00:03:25
Kris: So that sounds to me, I guess, becoming a major issue as of late.
Michael: It has been an issue.
03:26 – 03:31
Kris: Especially before storms and we'll talk a little bit about that, if you don't mind, in the future.
Michael: Sure, sure.
Kris: But you brought up auto accidents and motorcycles. Now you have a whole other offshoot or do you specialize particularly in motorcycles rather than regular auto accidents? How do I decide first should I call you or not?
03:53 – 03:03:54
Michael: Well we call ourselves motorcycle attorneys.
03:55 – 05:00
Michael: And the reason we do that is because two out of three of us ride right one and one of us is getting the other one to get his license. And I've been riding motorcycles since I'm probably 13, 14 years old. I went to what we call mini bike camp where I got to ride motorcycles all afternoon, five days a week, which I thought was fantastic, on trails. And I recently, I would say in the last ten years picked up where I left off and started riding on the streets, and I just loved it. And I saw that there was a need in the community for an attorney to have the understanding that I have about riding the mechanics of riding the riding dynamics, and to be able to bring that experience into the courtroom so that I can help portray the motorcycle rider in their true light and not in the light cast by the insurance companies that they're reckless, that they're careless, that they cause most of the accidents. And through my experience and my skills I'm able to overcome a lot of that.
05:01 – 05:22
Kris: Makes sense to me. I mean, it really does. Again, if you're more knowledgeable in any subject well then you'll be able to represent it or, I guess, through litigation explain, I'm talking to an attorney, for lack of a better term, convince that this is not necessarily the case just because they can.
05:23 – 05:27
Michael: My job is just because he was on a motorcycle doesn't mean they caused the accident.
05:28 – 05:05:55
Kris: Exactly. Now speaking of accidents, we have a lot in Florida. I mean, there's always a lot of auto accidents. Do you have any do's and don'ts that you like to tell your clients or what do you see happen more often that get people who find themselves in an auto accident to a position where they may be incriminating them self or do more harm to them?
05:56 – 06:03
Michael: Okay. Well my first advice, of course, to people is don't get in an accident if it's unavoidable.
06:04 – 06:05
Kris: We have a rocket scientist right here folks.
06:07 – 07:07:29
Michael: And if it's unavoidable and you find yourself in an accident the first thing you want to do is make sure that you are okay and that the other person or people involved in the accident are okay. If they're not, I recommend you call 911 immediately to get some help to the scene. First priority, of course, are the people. Then the next situation would be if your car is so mangled that it can't be driven, make sure it gets towed to a yard so that you can tell your insurance company where the car is and they'll go look at it and adjust it for the value. At the scene of an accident, I recommend that you take photographs, as many as you can. Take photographs of your car, take photographs of the other car, and if you can, if you think about, take pictures of the intersection or the stop light, or wherever the accident occurred because it will help us later on.
If there becomes a question of liability we'll have actual what we call "scene" photos, which would be much better than a Google image later on if somebody were to bring that up. So with every phone having a camera it should happen. The other thing I would tell people is never admit fault, never say, oh my god, I'm sorry, I ran the red light. Keep that to yourself.
Kris: Makes sense.
07:30 – 08:00
Michael: That's something you tell your lawyer. That's something you tell your insurance company representative, but you don't tell that to the other driver. There could have been a lot of other factors that may have caused or contributed to the accident beyond the signal and you want to make sure that you're not saying things that weren't true, especially after being in the shock of having an accident and all the adrenalin that's flowing through your body, your perception is different. And let's face it, when somebody gets hurt, somebody else might feel guilty.
08:02 – 08:06
Michael: Even though it wasn't legally their fault, they may have feelings that it's their fault.
08:07 – 08:17
Kris: And that makes sense. It really, really does because people are people. If you hurt someone, oh my god, your first reaction is, oh my god, I'm sorry, are you all right.
08:20 – 08:08:28
Kris: But now days I can see where you kind of have to be careful. I mean, it's a shame, but it is what it is.
08:30 – 08:32
Michael: You know like in criminal law, anything you say can and will be used against you.
08:34 – 08:36
Michael: That kind of translates into civil law as well.
08:37 – 09:18
Kris: Right. So Michael, I've always been told that if I was in an auto accident don't move my vehicle, don't, get out of the car, exchange information, things of that nature. Is that still practical, because I commute up and down 441 every day. Sometimes it's just like you guys can pull over, you know, do you, it's just a fender bender. Now I understand more serious accidents, that's a separate issue. But do you recommend still this is where the accident happened, don't move, call the police, don't call the police for, I don't want to say minor accidents, but a good hit, a good bumper.
09:21 – 09:47
Michael: All right. My first thought is take care of yourself first. So if you're having excruciating neck pain or back pain I'm going to recommend you don't move. I'm going to recommend you wait for emergency medical personnel to stabilize you, either put a neck collar or put you on a backboard and get you to a hospital, and get checked out because I would hate to tell somebody, yeah, get out of your car, when it might cause further harm to themselves.
09:49 – 10:05
Michael: So I would say if you're feeling that kind of pain don't get out of the car. Wait for EMS to come. Now if you're feeling little to no pain and you know it then I would recommend if both cars are drivable that, yes, you do take it out of the roadway for commuters like yourself.
10:07 – 10:09
Kris: The general additional safety of other drivers.
10:10 – 10:10:17
Michael: Right. And I was going to say the police officer who shows up at the scene, what do you think the first thing he's going to tell you to do? Does your car drive? Sure. Get it off the road.
10:18 – 10:19
Kris: So then that's okay.
10:20 – 10:45
Michael: It is okay, and the reason being is if it was a good hit like you described, there will be debris in the roadway. There will be a tail light. There will be backup lights. There will be some debris in the roadway. And we can tell where the point of impact was by the debris in the roadway. If there were skid marks we would be able to tell where the cars were placed. So it's not imperative that you leave the car where the collision occurs.
10:46 – 10:55
Kris: Okay. Now again, I almost live off of urban legends and wives tales, but I've got the opportunity to ask you now.
10:56 – 11:08
Kris: Should you always get checked out by a hospital or, because that used to be the rule of thumb, always go to the hospital. I'm like well, I'm not in pain.
11:09 – 11:36
Michael: All right. So the new Florida statutes that have come out do require you to seek medical care within two weeks of the accident. So we you have up to two weeks to see somebody for your injuries. The question you asked me was whether we should always. I would say not always, because if you're having absolutely no pain and you're having absolutely no symptoms why would you go to the doctor? I would not recommend that.
11:37 – 11:12:02
Michael: But if you are having pain, I bet you it's going to get worse by the next morning. I had mentioned earlier that you get an adrenaline dump and that masks a lot of pain and I would say two-thirds of my clients who don't seek medical attention right from the scene will do it the next day, because after the adrenalin dissipates now the body starts letting you know that there was an injury and you're going to start feeling pain, most especially the next morning.
12:04 – 12:10
Michael: So if you are having symptoms, yes, please go get checked out. If you're not having symptoms at all, then no, don't waste your time.
12:11 – 12:41
Kris: Okay. Okay. Good answer because I don't want to go. You know, it's always an inconvenience. The accident itself is the first inconvenience, now let's go spend three hours in the ER. But it is scary to know that well if I don't go, and this is what people tell you, if you don't go and then you start hurting later and it was a result of that accident, you could be at loss. A few weeks, that's not terrible.
12:42 – 12:52
Michael: The insurance companies don't like when you wait and they'll point the finger at you and say, well you couldn't have been hurt if you didn't go to the hospital. But at the same time, you don't go to the hospital if you don't feel enough pain to warrant that.
12:53 – 13:04
Kris: Okay. Now that leads me to this question. When do I know if I need an attorney, as far as accidents I mean, is that statement from an insurance company too late?
13:05 – 13:33
Michael: No. What I would recommend is if you are not at fault, you know you weren't at fault, you were stopped at a red light for at least a few seconds and somebody hit you from behind, it's not your fault. If you were going through a green light, it clearly was a green light and you got hit, that's not your fault. Somebody turns left in front of you, that's not your fault. So if it wasn't your fault and you're hurt then I would recommend consulting with an attorney.
13:34 – 13:35
Kris: Okay. What if you were at fault?
13:37 – 14:18
Michael: If you were at fault you still have the rights under the PIP statute to get the medical care and attention that you need. Remember I said the first one has to be in 14 days, but everybody has a minimum policy that affords them $10,000 worth of medical benefits and that is regardless of fault, and that's why they call it the Florida No-Fault Statute. So do you need an attorney to claim your PIP benefits? No you don't. But let's say you went to a physician, it was your fault in the accident and now your insurance company won't pay. That's when you call me and I will make sure that your insurance pays all the bills that are associated with that accident that they're legally responsible to pay.
14:19 – 14:14:33
Kris: Okay. That's great information, Michael. I really appreciate it. We need to take a break. Real quick before we do, if someone wanted to get more information on you and your offices, where can they get that information?
14:34 – 14:45
Michael: Our website is 911AutoLaw.com or 911BikerLaw.com. Either one will take you to our home page and we have a lot of resources on our websites.
14:47 – 14:52
Kris: Awesome. Okay. Well when we come back from the break we'll continue our discussion with Michael Brehne. We'll be right back.
15:10 – 15:44
Kris: Hi. Welcome back to Radio Waves. Again, I'm your host Kris Poliquin and this is a production of Red Apple Media. We're talking with Michael Brehne of Law Offices of Michael Brehne about all things well law-related. So before the break, we were speaking specifically of auto accidents. Michael, I'd like to ask you a little bit about personal injury, if that's okay. I was doing a little bit of research on your website and there's a lot of different kinds of personal injury, almost at a scary level. Do you find yourself dealing a lot with that?
15:45 – 16:16
Michael: Yes. Another area of our practice would be what we call premises liability and that's when you get hurt at somebody else's premises and it has to be because of fault on their part where they created a dangerous condition or allowed a dangerous condition to remain on the property and you got hurt. So it's not an automatic. A lot of people think that it's automatic, if I got hurt in Walmart, Walmart is going to pay me. No, that's not how that works.
Kris: So that's the case then.
Michael: That's not the case.
16:19 – 16:32
Kris: So if I'm walking down the aisle and I step on soap, the classic scenario, I slip and fall in Walmart due to soap being on the floor. Walmart is not automatically at fault for that.
16:33 – 16:57
Michael: That's right. There are new statutes that came out that said we have to prove who put the substance on the floor and approximately how long did it remain on the floor, because as we were discussing at the break, if somebody were to knock say liquid soap on to the floor and then turn the corner with their cart, and then you come down the same aisle and slip and fall and hurt yourself, how is that Walmart's fault?
Kris: I agree with you a hundred percent.
17:01 – 17:36
Michael: It's not. But if that happened and two, three, four, five more people in shopping carts traipsed through the soap and the soap became dirty and you could see that the line stretched 10 feet, 15 feet, you know it's been there for a while because people have already come through and smeared it. At that point, there is a duty on any store to inspect their premises and to make it safe. So depending on the amount of time that you might be able to prove that can be a potential case.
17:37 – 17:52
Kris: Okay. And again, it sounds to me like what you were speaking in the first segment, take pictures, because if someone slips and falls and there's three-day-old soap trails, likely they're going to start mopping that aisle.
17:53 – 18:08
Michael: And I'm glad you mentioned that. Because you know what the knee-jerk reaction is for most people who slip and fall, and if you've ever slipped and fell you probably did the same thing, you get right back up immediately and hope nobody saw. And that, much like a car accident, the next day...
18:10 – 18:11
Kris: Now you're hurting from what happened.
18:11 – 18:17
Michael: You hurt your back starts hurting and that was because of the fall. So that's a great recommendation to take pictures even there.
18:18 – 18:20
Kris: Yes. And like you said earlier, it's not that hard anymore.
18:22 – 18:28
Kris: It's really, really not. Everybody's got a camera and if you don't, you're five feet from somebody who does.
Michael, Absolutely, right.
18:28 – 19:02
Kris: I'd like to shift gears a little bit and talk about something that affected a lot of people in our area, here in Lake County. And we're in that season now, storm season and the issues associated with insurance with that. And not even the insurance necessarily, but the people who say yes, we will take your benefits, sign them over and then people are left hanging not getting their repairs or things of that nature. Can you speak a little bit to that.
19:03 – 19:35
Michael: Sure. This is the topic of Assignment of Benefits and for whatever reason, well I know the reason. Insurance companies vilify these Assignment of Benefits, but there's many different types of assignments and it's complicated. But in general, if a roofing company or a contractor asks you to give them an Assignment of Benefits, they're not doing it for a nefarious reason, they're doing it because what they do is they take that claim out of your hands for you.
19:37 – 20:18
Michael: They're the ones who now have permission to talk to the insurance company. They're the ones who now have authority to negotiate the claim. And let's face it, they know more than you do because they've done the pricing. You know, there's computer programs, they've priced it out, they go to the insurance company, they show them their estimate from generally the same program that the insurance companies use, and they're better able to negotiate rather than a homeowner, because a homeowner would say, well this is the estimate I got from my contractor, and if they asked a question about it the homeowner can't answer the question. They don't what was put into the program that spit out that estimate, the contractor does. So that's very helpful in that situation.
Kris: Sure. I can see that.
20:19 – 21:20
Michael: And then the next helpful thing is when you assign the claim that means that the contractor roofer can actually hire an attorney for you to prosecute the claim, so I would hope of course that they would hire me and then I would be able to represent the roofing company and not really bother the homeowner. The homeowner would just be a witness in the case, whereas the contractor would be the actual client. And so it takes a lot of responsibility away from the homeowner and gives that responsibility to the contractor. Now the problem arises when the contractor, and I think you mentioned it your question, when the contractor doesn't do what he's supposed to do, because the contractor is supposed to negotiate, they're supposed to get it repaired and they're supposed to do it timely. When they don't do that then they have, what we call, "breached" the assignment. In other words, they failed to perform. If they fail to perform then you get out of the contract.
21:22 – 21:28
Michael: It's just breaching any other contract. If I hired you to do something and you didn't do it, I don't have to pay you because you didn't do it.
21:29 – 21:42
Kris: Okay so, right, so if a contractor does come up to you, what should you look for? I mean, should you just, is it always okay, and I guess I'm asking you this because I've heard a lot of cautionary tales and I just want a little bit of...
21:44 – 21:46
Michael: Let me rephrase it this way. I won't say yes it's always okay.
Kris: Of course.
21:48 – 22:27
Michael: But what I will say is that it usually is, but it all depends on how the assignments are written. Some are written very loosely, some are written very tightly, some have escape provisions, some don't. So if you really want to know, call me, let me read it. You can scan it to me by email and I can tell you fairly quickly what that document actually means to you. So would I caution somebody not to sign an Assignment of Benefits? Not necessarily. But what I can say is if you want my law firm to represent you before you sign an Assignment, absolutely, that's what we're here for.
22:29 – 22:31
Kris: Okay. If they did want to contact you, what's a good phone number for you?
22:32 – 22:50
Michael: Our office number is 407-645-2195 and you could find us on the web at BrehneLaw.com, that's B-R-E-H-N-E, L-A-W.com and we also have a website called StormClaimAttorney.com, so that might be easier.
22:51 – 23:07
Kris: Yes, absolutely, because I know it might happen. There's a lot of people, especially in our area last year, a lot in Florida, but in Lake County specifically that had to go through some of these headaches and hurdles, and like I said, it scared a lot of people.
23:09 – 23:11
Michael: Well insurance companies adhere to the three Ds.
23:13 – 23:35
Michael: Delay, deny and then defend. So when you're up against a machine that follows the three Ds, you need an attorney. And I've been doing this for over 21 years, and I speak their language. They know me, I know them and we're very successful with what we do.
23:36 – 23:45
Kris: Okay. That makes me feel a little bit better. You'll certainly be the attorney I call, knock on wood, I don't need to call one, first and foremost.
23:46 – 23:47
Michael: I appreciate the compliment.
23:49 – 24:01
Kris: Again, I've done a lot of research on you. I try to prepare for shows like this, but for our audience, Mike, what separates you from other firms out there?
24:03 – 24:52
Michael: We're not the biggest firm in town, which means we don't have the most cases in town, which means we can pay attention to your case. And when I graduated law school I never wanted to be a farmer, I wanted to be a lawyer. So I don't want to go out in my field and rake my cases. I want to work on my cases. Sometimes I explain to clients at our law firm we don't flash fry your cases, we bake them. We make sure that the file is complete, we make sure that our experts are on board, we make sure that you understand how the process is going to go and we set your expectations early on to what's realistic. If somebody sprained their pinky finger and wanted a million dollars, I think in about five minutes or less I explain to you how that will never happen.
24:53 – 24:54
Kris: Well darn, I just sprained my pinky.
24:55 – 25:25
Michael: Right. So what we do and what sets us apart is you will always get a fair assessment from me and you will always get my true opinion. The reason I do that is because if I tell you I'm going to do something I want to do that. If I tell you I can't do something then you know it's just not going to happen, and I wouldn't tell you that I could do something that I can't. So for all the money, billboards that are out there, these are empty promises and you're not going to get that from me.
25:27 – 25:28
Kris: And that is why I'll call you.
Michael: Okay, thank you.
25:30 – 25:43
Kris: No, it really is. It's about being genuine, you know, and I believe that. I really do. Well Michael, that's all the time we have for today's show. Real quick, can you give our audience the information, if they do want to contact you again, how can they do that?
25:44 – 25:59
Michael: Sure. Our phone number is 407-645-2195 and our websites are 911AutoLaw.com, 911BikerLaw.com and StormClaimAttorney.com
26:00 – 26:04
Kris: Awesome. Thanks again, Michael. Really appreciate you coming on and sharing this information.
Michael: Thank you for having me.
26:06 – 26:11
Kris: And that concludes our show for today. This has been Radio Waves. I'm your host Kris Poliquin. We'll see you next time.
End dialogue: 26:11