Jan 10 2019

Basic Tips for Pedestrian Road Safety

Whether you like to take a stroll around the neighborhood in the evenings or you walk through a busy downtown area every day for work, most of us are pedestrians on the road at sometime or another. And while we all assume general safety during these situations based on traffic and pedestrian laws and visual assists like signs and crosswalks, the unfortunate fact is that pedestrians are hurt or killed every year in accidents that could have been avoided.

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, our personal injury attorneys are here to help if you’ve been injured as a pedestrian in an accident where someone else may be liable. But of course, we’d rather avoid these incidents altogether – here are some tips for staying safe during any periods where you’re a pedestrian, plus to avoid any potential liability if an accident does take place involving you (yes, pedestrians can be partially or fully at fault for accidents if they were not obeying the law).

tips pedestrian road safety

Be Visible

You should make efforts to make yourself visible and easily seen to drivers, especially if you’re walking on busy streets or during the evening or night time. Just like a biker or someone else sharing the road, use lit or reflective clothing at night to make sure you can be seen – some others like to carry a flashlight with them that helps with both visibility and their own personal walking path.

In addition, use the assists already present on roadways to remain visible and obvious. Only cross busy streets at marked intersections and crosswalks, while obeying all walk or stop signs or signals. If you do have to cross an unmarked intersection at night, seek a well-lit area where drivers can see you without any obstructions.

Stay Aware

Be aware of the things you’re doing as a pedestrian on the road. Failure to do this may not only lead to injury, but could cause liability concerns as well. Some areas to consider:

  • Signs: Traffic signs and various signals are there to keep you safe. Follow them at all times.
  • Listen: You don’t have a 360-degree range of vision, and you may not always see traffic from every angle. You might be able to hear it first, however, but not if you’re distracted by music or talking on the phone.
  • Looking: The phrase “look both ways” is cliché for a reason – it’s necessary. Traffic comes from both directions, and vehicles may turn at intersections.

Avoid Dangerous Activities

Finally, you have to avoid certain behaviors at all times while a pedestrian. These include walking on streets instead of marked sidewalks, plus walking facing traffic – this lets drivers see you more easily. Finally, never assume you’re completely safe or that drivers will always obey the law perfectly; take additional precautions in any busy area just to be sure.

For more on staying safe as a pedestrian, or to learn about any of our personal injury or auto accident services if you’re involved in an accident, speak to the staff at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

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Jan 01 2019

Self-Driving Car Features & Liability, Part 2

In part one of this two-part blog, we went over some of the basics of self-driving cars. This newer technology is becoming a larger and larger consideration for auto manufacturers, buyers and insurance companies alike, with many benefits but also a few potential drawbacks to consider.

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, we have auto accident attorneys always on hand for any car-related incident you’re involved in. In today’s part two, we’ll look a bit more closely at some of the liability issues related to self-driving cars, ride-sharing companies like Lyft and Uber, and how litigation in these areas might be changing.

self-driving car features liability

Crashes and Liability

Because self-driving cars are so new and have barely hit the market in most areas (if at all), we’re still in the very nascent stages of how liability will work for them. We’re mostly still in the realm of establishing legal precedent, which has begun to happen in a couple significant cases:

  • In 2017, a self-driving Uber vehicle crashed in Tempe, Arizona and caused the death of a pedestrian. The vehicle to crash was an SUV, which flipped on its side after traveling at 38 miles per hour. An early investigation found that the pedestrian may have been at fault due to jaywalking and walking in a non-crosswalk area, and the case was investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board while prompting significant conversation.
  • A Tesla vehicle using autopilot collided with a tractor-trailer, leading to the death of the Tesla’s operator. But before the crash, the Tesla vehicle was reportedly flashing a warning signal to the driver to disengage the autopilot.

Uber and Lyft

Some in the field have noted that, when it comes to ridesharing companies like Lyft and Uber, tort law principles may be applied for negligence. Using the case listed above involving the Uber vehicle and a pedestrian, here are the basic factors:

  • If the self-driving Uber did not note the pedestrian’s presence, Uber and the vehicle’s manufacturer would likely be responsible under product liability principles.
  • If the pedestrian was crossing at night and obscured by darkness, she could be at least partially liable.
  • If the pedestrian’s conduct caused the accident to be unavoidable, she may be fully liable. This scenario is less likely, however.

These interpretations will also vary based on individual states, as the NHTSA is only responsible for overseeing basic guidelines and regulations.

Litigation

The Tempe case mentioned above, which has yet to hit litigation, could provide a baseline for future such cases. It will likely devolve into a battle between Uber, the vehicle manufacturer, and the suppliers of the self-driving automation technology in terms of who is liable. Some self-driving systems may contain confidential indemnification agreements that companies use to protect themselves. It’s possible multiple entities could be found liable and/or sued during this process.

For more on self-driving cars and liability, or to learn about any of our auto accident or personal injury attorney services, speak to the staff at William Rawlings & Associates today.

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Dec 23 2018

Self-Driving Car Features & Liability, Part 1

It’s not the plot of an 80s sci-fi movie, it’s reality: Self-driving cars are coming, and they may soon be a major part of our basic driving experience. In fact, many of these vehicles are already hitting roads around the country.

As those of you who have been in an accident involving liability might already be thinking, this creates some interesting circumstances for vehicle collisions and determining who is responsible. At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, our personal injury attorneys can help you if you happen to be involved in an incident with one of these cars. In part one of this two-part blog examining this new area, we’ll go over the history of self-driving cars and their features, plus some benefits and drawbacks they may come with. In part two, we’ll go over some specific liability areas to know here.

self-driving car features liability

Self-Driving Feature Timeline

To get a full picture of how the legal landscape has evolved in terms of self-driving cars and liability for accidents they’re involved in, one must understand the history of their technology. Self-driving cars use what are called Automated Driving Systems (ADS), but this technology is still in its relative infant stages. Here’s how we got to where we are today, plus where experts in the field expect things to go over the next several years:

  • 2000 to 2010: During this period, fully self-driving cars were not yet on the road at all. There were, however, several individual self-driving features that began to show up in certain models, such as electronic stability control, collision warnings, blind spot detection, lane departure warnings and other similar assists.
  • 2010 to 2016: By the turn of the decade, most of the features we just listed above were standard on new models. But new features like rearview video, lane centering, automatic emergency braking, rear cross traffic alerts and others began to show up in ADS systems as well.
  • 2016 to present and onward: By 2016, certain ADS features began to show up that presented something close to full autonomy over the driver. We’re talking about areas like self-parking, traffic assists, lane-holding assists, adaptive cruise control, and several automated safety features.
  • 2025 and beyond: By the year 2025 or even potentially sooner, it’s expected that fully autonomous vehicles will be common – and will eventually make up the majority of cars on the road in the US.

Benefits of Self-Driving Cars

Self-driving cars are beneficial for two primary reasons:

  • Potential safety increases: Per the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, roughly 94 percent of all severe crashes on US highways take place due to human error. Because self-driving technology shows the potential to fully remove this error from the range of possibilities, many experts forecast a huge reduction in major accidents.
  • Convenience: More and more autonomous vehicles will lead to a rise in ridesharing services, and will also be beneficial for people who cannot drive due to limitations of any kind.

Potential Issues With Self-Driving Cars

At the same time, self-driving cars still need a lot of work to get past some potential issues. Cybersecurity is one such problem, and another is who is responsible when an automated vehicle crashes – who is liable? Which party’s insurance is on the hook? We’ll examine these questions in part two of this blog.

For more on this, or to learn about any of our auto accident attorney services, speak to the pros at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

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Dec 13 2018

Rideshare Accident Liability, Part 2

In part one of this blog series, we went over some of the basics when it comes to rideshare companies like Lyft and Uber when their drivers are involved in accidents. Liability can be tough to necessarily place in some of these cases, and the auto accident attorneys at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates are always here to help if you’re involved in such an incident.

Today, we’ll go into a few more details when it comes to this process. There are, in fact, several current lawsuits in place based on gaps in liability in these areas, and these may play a huge role in how these sorts of incidents are litigated in the future. Let’s go over some important liability areas for drivers, rideshare companies, and even third parties involved in accidents.

rideshare accident liability

Possible Driver Liability

If you’re hit by a negligent or reckless driver employed by a rideshare company, and you’ve suffered a permanent injury or one that exceeds your no-fault insurance policy, the driver may be liable even if they were not on the clock for Uber or Lyft at the time. There’s an issue here, though: Many drivers only carry state minimum insurance required by law and Uber.

This means that you may not be able to recover enough to pay for your injuries in these cases. Plus, if the insurance company was unaware that their driver was contracting to carry passengers, the driver’s own insurance company might reject the damages from an accident.

Possible Rideshare Liability

As we noted above, there are some lawsuits currently in play or recently completed in this area – and they relate to parties who feel Uber and Lyft should be more responsible for these gaps in liability. In 2015, Uber settled a case where one of their drivers struck and killed a young girl in a crosswalk while logged into the Uber app and waiting to accept a ride.

Multiple other similar suits have been brought through recent years, including incidents where rideshare drivers have run red lights, T-boned cars in intersections, or even those where the plaintiff was the passenger in an Uber itself. Some have alleged that Uber does not provide adequate safety and training procedures.

The main point to take away here is this: Even if you’re in one of these accidents and it appears standard insurance coverage won’t help you recoup all your injury damages, there’s a good chance a separate suit can bring you the results you want if you have a strong case.

Possible Third Party Liability

Just like in any accident situation, third parties could also be at fault here – or fault itself could be impossible to place. Road conditions may contribute to crashes in some cases, and vehicle inspections for ridesharing companies are another big crux point. Finally, if a third party driver causes an accident with an Uber or Lyft driver, that party will likely bear liability.

For more on handling liability claims after an accident involving a ridesharing vehicle, or to learn about any of our personal injury attorney services, speak to the staff at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

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Dec 03 2018

Rideshare Accident Liability, Part 1

Over the last several years, companies like Uber and Lyft have become wildly popular based on their convenience and the ability for anyone to both utilize and work for them. At the same time, these companies have had to deal with significant issues when it comes to their drivers and any accidents they’re in – who is liable in these cases, for instance?

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, LLC, we can help answer questions like these if you’re involved in such an auto accident. In this two-part blog, we’ll go over everything you need to know about how claims work when it comes to these incidents, including Utah’s insurance laws and how they’re relevant.

rideshare accident liability

Utah and No-Fault Insurance

Utah is one of 12 states that has what are known as no-fault insurance laws in place. These laws require all Utah drivers to keep at least $3,000 in “personal injury protection,” which is also called no-fault coverage. This coverage eliminates the potential for compensation for pain and suffering or other non-monetary damages – to step outside this, your injuries have to meet certain thresholds (this is only for physical injury – car damage claims can be made against an at-fault driver with no limitations at all).

To pursue a liability claim after any accident in Utah, then, you must have incurred at least $3,000 in medical bills or have suffered specific serious injuries. These injuries include:

  • Permanent disability
  • Permanent impairment
  • Permanent disfigurement or dismemberment

If your injuries surpass any of these thresholds, you are not limited by no-fault claims.

Rideshare Drivers Are Contractors

Companies like Uber recognize that their insurance could be liable for certain issues, so they’ve taken significant steps to distance themselves from their drivers – most importantly, naming all their drivers independent contractors. This creates a legal separation between these companies and their drivers, which can often transfer to legal issues in the case of an accident caused by the driver. However, there are still situations where Uber or Lyft insurance will come into play, which we’ll go over below.

Uber Accident Insurance

We’ll use Uber as our test example here, and the crux point often comes down to whether the driver is logged in and actively working for Uber at the time of the accident. If not, the driver’s personal insurance is on the hook.

If so, things are a bit more complex. Uber offers no collision coverage if the driver is logged in but hasn’t actively accepted a ride at the time of the accident, but does offer liability coverage for third parties involved in these accidents – up to $50,000 per injury, and up to $25,000 for property damage beyond the driver’s personal insurance.

Finally, if the driver is actively transporting a paying customer, Uber’s full $1 million collision and liability policy will kick in. It will have the following coverage:

  • Third party liability coverage for all other drivers, pedestrians, and their property.
  • Contingent comprehensive collision coverage for the Uber car, regardless of driver fault.
  • Uninsured or underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage, if the Uber driver is not at fault and the other driver does not have enough coverage or cannot be identified.

For more on ridesharing companies and how liability works if you’re involved in an accident with one, or to learn about any of our personal injury attorney services, speak to the staff at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

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Nov 25 2018

Basic Stages of Personal Injury Cases

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, we’re proud to offer the highest quality personal injury attorney services available in Salt Lake City and surrounding areas. We’ve helped hundreds of clients with their cases over nearly 40 years in the field, from walking them through the basics of the procedure to aggressively negotiation fair settlements when appropriate.

For those who luckily haven’t dealt with such a case in the past, the process of a personal injury procedure can be unfamiliar. Let’s go over the simple stages of the process, which will vary depending on whether the two sides are or aren’t able to arrive at a settlement.

stages personal injury cases

Pretrial

To begin with, attorneys from both sides of the case will convene with their clients to find out their versions of the facts and what evidence is available. After this is done, conferences and motions may be held in front of a judge or magistrate, which can be requested by either attorney or even the court itself.

These meetings may be held for several reasons, including expediting some part of the case, discouraging any meaningless pretrial activities, improving trial preparation, or often to help bring along a settlement in the case.

Negotiations

After pretrial motions and meetings have been completed, both attorneys will convene for an important negotiation stage. This is where they will attempt to reach an agreement that both clients are okay with, which will allow a trial to be avoided and a settlement to be completed. At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, over 98 percent of our cases are able to be settled before ever reaching a lengthy and often burdensome trial phase, getting our clients their due compensation without a drawn-out process.

Litigation/Trial

In cases where a settlement cannot be agreed upon, a trial will be needed. This will be held in front of just a judge in most cases, though certain localities allow either party to request a jury as well. The plaintiff presents their case first, followed by the defense. Witnesses can be called to help present evidence or facts, and can be cross-examined.

Settlement or Final Arguments

In cases where a settlement was reached during the negotiation stage, the litigation stage will be skipped and we’ll move directly toward finalizing the settlement. The proper documents will be signed, including the method and time period for fund disbursement.

For cases that go to trial, attorneys for both clients will give their final arguments. At this point, they will await the judgement from the judge or jury in the case.

Appeal or Post-Judgement Motions

Settled cases are done once the papers are signed, but trial cases may have a few post-judgement areas to consider. Attorneys for either side might appeal a non-favorable judgement, or may motion for a new trial based on a few different causes.

For more on the stages of a personal injury case, or to learn about any of our personal injury, car accident or wrongful death attorney services, speak to the pros at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

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Nov 12 2018

What To Do If You’re Hit by a Car

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, some of the most potentially dangerous personal injury cases we help clients with are those where a pedestrian is struck by a car.

Pedestrian accidents aren’t as common as car accidents, but they can be extremely dangerous and may leave victims deserving of significant compensation for their injuries and hardship – or may leave their estates in a similar position if the victim is killed.

Hit by a Car

If you’re involved in a pedestrian accident where you are injured but remain conscious and mentally aware, it’s vital that you follow a few important steps – both for your safety and to help your personal injury case if there is one. Here are some tips we can offer if you’re in this unfortunate situation.

Remain Calm

It’s totally understandable that after such an incident, your adrenaline will be flowing and you might be overwhelmed or emotional. Know that especially directly after the accident, the influx of adrenaline might make you feel like you’re fine even if you’ve been injured – take great care when moving around and do a visual assessment before trying to get up.
In addition, do your very best not to let your emotions get the best of you. Lashing out at the driver who hit you or anyone else will not help you at all, and in fact might detract from your case later on. Try your hardest to focus on the important details of the event and move forward in a responsible way until authorities arrive.

Move Away From Danger

As soon as you’re mentally and physically able, move yourself off the road and out of any danger. If you require it, ask for help from onlookers or whoever else is present.
Call the Police and Medical Staff
The moment you’re safely out of danger, call 911 and ensure police and medical staff are responding. It’s possible witnesses have already done this as well. Under no circumstances should you ever leave the scene of this accident before police arrive and get your statement, and this applies to the driver of the vehicle as well. You also should not attempt to treat any injuries yourself – rather wait for medical staff to arrive on the scene.

Personal Info

The driver involved in the accident should know this already, but if they don’t, firmly request that they stay at the scene until police arrive. Also request their personal information, including basic driver info, their insurance, and more. Never try to make them feel better by downplaying the incident or claiming you’re “fine” – it’s nice to be polite, sure, but these kinds of admissions might hurt your case moving forward.

Witnesses

If there are any witnesses on the scene, ask them to remain as well until police arrive and can get their statements. Witnesses who can corroborate your version of events may make or break your ability to receive damages from the offending driver.

For more on what to do if you’re hurt by a vehicle as a pedestrian, or for information on any of our personal injury or car accident attorney services, speak to the staff at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

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Nov 05 2018

Common Causes of Truck Accidents

As some of the biggest vehicles on the road, accidents involving trucks and other big rigs can be some of the largest and most complex. This is particularly true if you’re injured in an accident involving a truck or commercial vehicle of any kind, which is generally defined as any vehicle with a gross weight of 26,000 pounds or greater.

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, LLC, we’re here to help if you’ve been in a truck accident and need an attorney to represent your interests. Our truck accident lawyers have been helping clients get their just compensation for over 35 years, whether the accident involved a semi-truck, 18-wheeler, tractor-trailer or some other type of commercial vehicle. Let’s look at three of the most common causes of these accidents, and whether or not you’re likely to have a good claim if you’re involved in an accident with one of these causes.

causes truck accidents

Driver Errors

The most common cause of an accident involving a truck or larger commercial vehicle is a driver error of some kind, and there are several different possible areas here. Some of these relate to the truck’s far larger turning radius, which makes it a very different type of vehicle to drive than a passenger sedan or even an SUV. This is exacerbated if trucks have trailers attacked to them.

In addition, some trucking companies subject their drivers to long hours – there have been some cases where those injured by a truck in an accident have actually been able to recover damages from the parent trucking company, rather than the driver themselves, when it was found that unreasonable driving expectations led to driver fatigue that may have caused the accident. But in other cases, aggressive or distracted driving by the driver themselves will leave them liable for your damages.

Weather Issues

Just like other vehicle types, bad weather can impact driving safety and can even cause accidents in some cases. But once again, this can be exacerbated for larger trucks, which don’t handle as well and are more prone to slipping and sliding once they lose control.

Whether or not you’ll be due damages if you’re injured in a truck accident caused by weather can be a bit more complex than other accident causes. If you can prove that the driver should have known the risks of extreme weather and should never have been driving to begin with, you might have a good case. But this isn’t always possible – contact our experts to find out what your options are here.

Mechanical Problems

In other situations, mechanical failures of some kind – such as a flat tire or worn brakes – may contribute to a truck-related accident. Liability here will generally come down to whether you can prove that the driver or trucking company should reasonably have known about these issues beforehand and taken steps to correct them; once again, our attorneys can inform you of whether you have a good case based on your specifics.

To learn more about this or any of our other personal injury or car accident attorney services, speak to the staff at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

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Oct 20 2018

Important Facts on Drug Liability

The pharmaceutical world is a huge one, with remarkably high demand in many areas and companies that are notably ruthless about making their profits no matter what. This often leads to the rushed release of certain medications on the market, including those that are regularly prescribed to numerous patients, and this in turn can cause unsafe interactions, overdoses and even death or serious injury in some cases.

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, we’ve helped many clients receive their due compensation after complications from prescription medications. This falls under product liability, which is a significant part of the personal injury world. Let’s look at all the important factors here, including what qualifies for these kinds of cases and what you should do if this happens to you.

important facts drug liability

Drugs and Personal Injury

If you’ve been experiencing unexpected or uncomfortable side effects from a prescribed medication, chances are you’ve called your doctor already to ask about these. The most common response here is to just ride it out – some drugs are like this, with a little time needed while the body adjusts to the new medication.

The problem is, these side effects that may seem normal in some cases might not be in others. They might have severe results, such as severe medical complications or even death in some cases, but it might be too late to totally ward off these complications. If this is the case for you, and either you or a loved one has been affected or even killed as a result of prescription drug complications, know that you have legal recourse available.

Types of Defects

With any product liability case, there are a few different types of defects that might lead to harm. These types are:

  • Design defect: A design defect refers to any drug with unsafe ingredients or an unsafe method of delivery for the target population. One prominent example that’s taken place on more than one occasion in the past is antidepressants designed to help with anxiety actually causing an increase in suicide rate among the population who takes them.

  • Manufacturing defect: In some other cases, the actual ingredients and delivery method of a drug are perfectly safe – but the manufacturing process itself has issues. Perhaps the production line where the drug is stamped is contaminated, or maybe the manufacturing plant received a batch of subpar ingredients.

  • Marketing defects: In still other cases, the design and manufacturing processes were just fine for a drug, but it’s marketed improperly in one of several ways. This could mean incorrect dosage or ingredient information on the bottle, or improper directions for taking the medication.

Personal Injury Attorney

If you think any of the above defects have taken place for your medication, resulting in harm to you, speak to a personal injury attorney right away. We can help you determine whether there’s enough evidence to prove liability, plus advise you on the proper steps to take as you move forward.

To learn more about this or any of our other personal injury lawyer services, speak to the pros at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

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Oct 10 2018

Elements of a Settlement Release

With any personal injury case, the potential for a settlement is always present. Most cases tend to end this way rather than making it all the way to court, as it simply makes more sense for all parties involved unless there’s a serious dispute about the facts of the case.

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, our personal injury attorneys can help you determine if a settlement is the right way to go if you have a case pending. We can work with you to determine your damages sought, plus assess the position the defense is taking and decide whether a settlement might be best.

If you do end up settling, chances are you will be required to sign a release document that spares the defendant and their insurance company from any future claims against them for this same incident. It’s important to know all the elements that might be present in this release before you sign – here are some basics.

Release of Claims

The settlement releases the defendant, their insurance and any other parties from any further liability in this case. This includes all damages and losses, both past and future. Once signing, you will be forbidden from bringing these kinds of claims that are listed.

Indemnity and Hold Harmless

To take things a bit further, you may also have to indemnify and hold harmless the defendant from claims from outside parties attempting to take some part of the proceeds or profits in the release. This includes Medicare, Medicaid, health care and health insurance, court and attorney fees from third parties, and more. This is an acknowledgement that satisfying these claims and liens is your obligation.

Confidentiality

In many cases, a confidentiality clause will be included that prevents all parties from disclosing the release, terms or settlement amount. You’re instructed to only give bland responses such as “the matter is resolved” when asked about it moving forward. Be aware that exceptions to this clause exist when it comes to certain situations, such as when you’re speaking with your hired accountant.

Attorney Fees for Enforcement

Settlement Amount and Tax Implications

If any legal action is needed in the future to enforce any part of this release, you also agree that the prevailing party will be entitled to reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs.

One area that will always be included in the release is the total amount of the settlement. This includes all losses, injuries and damages related to claims against the defending party. You will also be responsible for all taxes relating to these payments, including the local, state and federal levels.

Jury Waiver and Court Approval

The release also waives your right to a jury trial for any litigation related to this incident. In addition, certain cases will require a court order approving the settlement before the release becomes effective.

For more on what will be in a settlement release for a personal injury case, or to learn about any of our personal injury attorney services, speak to the staff at William Rawlings & Associates today.

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