Apr 28 2020

Car Insurance Importance and Selection Themes

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, LLC, our single most common case type when providing personal injury attorney services to a variety of clients is a vehicle accident. Our auto accident injury attorneys have assisted numerous clients with receiving just compensation when injured in a car, truck, motorcycle or other vehicle accident at the fault of another party.

One of the most important factors at play during such situations and resulting liability suits: Car insurance. Insurance companies will play a central role in nearly all such incidents, whether we’re talking about your insurance, the insurance of the party who caused an accident or any other situation. In today’s blog, we’ll go over the basics of why you need car insurance, some basic requirements and factors we recommend you consider while selecting it, plus some detailed data compiled by Consumers Advocate on many of your top car insurance company options out there today.

car insurance importance selection

Basic Insurance Benefits, Themes and Selection Factors

Car insurance is important for anyone who drives a vehicle to maintain, both for your own protection and in cases where you are involved in an accident or any kind of on-road incident with another driver. Not only are you leaving yourself open to potential financial exposure and major related issues if you are driving while uninsured, you are almost certainly breaking at least one state law and may be arrested as a result (and on the flip side, most insurance policies carry coverage to protect you against uninsured motorists).

It’s important to note that anytime you move, and often when you change vehicles, you should consider shopping for new insurance coverage. Even if you haven’t left the state and are just moving to a new city or area, your rate may change in major ways based on these tweaks to your daily life.

State Requirements and Expression Formats

As we noted above, car insurance is generally a legal requirement, one regulated by the state you live in. Each state has created its own set of guidelines for minimum requirements that must be held by all drivers in that state, and you’ll usually see this broken down into three numbers with slash lines between them – a common such expression would be something like 200/400/50. Here’s what each of these numbers represents:

  • 200: The first number refers to the cost per person for bodily injuries, with the number multiplied by 1,000 – in this case, 200 means $200,000 of coverage
  • 400: Cost times 1,000 per accident for bodily injury
  • 50: Cost times 1,000 per accident for property damage

Thorough Insurance Company Reviews

While you should take the time to compare and shop between various insurance companies anytime you need new coverage, there are many resources out there to make this process easier for you. One such resource is this data compiled by Consumers Advocate, which uses detailed information on various insurance companies and their pricing, discounts, customer experience, automation and overall financial strength to help you differentiate between many of the most popular insurance companies out there.

For more on car insurance and why it’s so important, or to learn about any of our auto accident injury attorney or other personal injury attorney services, speak to the staff at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

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Jan 10 2020

Eggshell Plaintiff Rule and Pre-Existing Conditions, Part 2

In part one of this two-part blog series, we went over some of the basics on personal injury, pre-existing medical conditions and the Eggshell Plaintiff Rule. This rule essentially states that in cases where an injured party in a liability case had a pre-existing condition that may have made the incident worse, the party responsible for the injury is liable for the full extent of the injury regardless.

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, we’ve provided our personal injury attorney services to numerous clients with pre-existing conditions looking to receive compensation despite insurance companies’ efforts to deny them based on such conditions. In today’s part two, we’ll go over a basic example of the Eggshell Plaintiff Rule at play, plus how you’ll want to proceed in such cases and some of the pre-existing conditions that may play a role in such cases.

eggshell plaintiff pre-existing conditions

Eggshell Plaintiff Example

As a simple example of the Eggshell Plaintiff Rule, imagine you’re in a vehicle accident caused by your own negligence because you were writing a message on your cell phone. The accident is a small one, with only light vehicle damage that likely won’t cost a ton in a simple settlement.

However, the victim in this case happened to have a pre-existing back condition, one that was exacerbated significantly by the accident’s force. In this case, the Eggshell Plaintiff Rule states that you as a defendant must take the victim as they are found – the victim will have a right to damages for all exacerbation or worsening of their condition due to the accident, even if such costs are far higher than the accident would have cost normally.

How to Proceed

If you’re on the flip side of the above equation and have been injured due to someone else’s negligence in an incident that worsened a pre-existing condition, it’s vital to take the proper steps, which our attorneys will assist you with. Here are some basics:

  • Seek immediate medical attention, during which you fully disclose all pre-existing conditions and ask the doctor to compare past medical records and tests with current ones for an objective picture of how the accident worsened your condition.
  • Do not lie about or exaggerate your pre-existing condition in any way, as insurance companies will research it.
  • Consult with your attorney about the proper argument that the incident weakened your pre-existing condition and made you more susceptible to larger and newer injuries.

Examples of Pre-Existing Conditions

Here are just some of the pre-existing conditions insurance companies may try to use to deny a personal injury claim:

  • Heart conditions
  • Major degenerative disc disease
  • Osteoporosis or osteoarthritis
  • High blood pressure
  • Asthma
  • Depression
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Complications from various recent or historical medical treatments

For more on pre-existing conditions and the Eggshell Plaintiff Rule, or to learn about any of our car accident attorney or other personal injury attorney services, speak to the staff at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

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Jan 03 2020

Eggshell Plaintiff Rule and Pre-Existing Conditions, Part 1

If you’ve recently suffered an injury that you believe was the fault of another party’s negligence for which you might be due compensation, you might be worried about being able to collect damages based on a pre-existing condition. Those who have dealt with insurance companies in the past know they will try to find any excuse to avoid paying out damages, and one such area is pre-existing conditions in patients that they will claim were the cause of their issue rather than a personal injury situation.

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, we’re here to ensure your liability claim does not get denied based on a pre-existing condition that was exacerbated or worsened due to someone else’s negligence. We handle a wide variety of personal injury cases, from car and truck accident injury lawyer services to wrongful death and numerous other case types. In this two-part blog, we’ll go over everything you need to know about pre-existing conditions and the role they may play in your case, including a vital area known as the Eggshell Plaintiff Rule that often applies.

eggshell plaintiff pre-existing conditions

Insurance, Personal Injury and Pre-Existing Conditions

Sadly, as we noted above, most insurance companies are not really here to help plaintiffs or those injured in these cases receive their just compensation. Rather, they’re looking for any and all potential reasons to avoid paying out such settlements.

In cases where the plaintiff in a personal injury case has a pre-existing medical condition, this is often the primary area the insurance company will seize onto as they try to fight the charges. They will attempt to claim and prove that injuries suffered in the case were only due to the pre-existing condition, and not due to anything that happened during the incident in question.

Eggshell Plaintiff Rule

However, in most such cases, you as a plaintiff will have an important rule on your side, one known as the Eggshell Plaintiff Rule. This states that any defendant in a personal injury or liability case must take the victim in question “as they are found” – this means that if the victim happens to be someone who is at a higher risk for injury than average, including those who have pre-existing conditions, the defendant remains liable for all damages.

It’s important to note here that this rule holds true even if it’s highly likely the defendant would have paid far less in an identical case where the victim did not have increased injury risk. Damages covered by the Eggshell Plaintiff Rule can include medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and often even punitive damages or damages for emotional distress.

In part two of this blog, we’ll go over examples of the Eggshell Plaintiff Rule, plus examples of pre-existing conditions and how to ensure they don’t create an issue in your case. To learn more about this or any of our personal injury attorney services, speak to the staff at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

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Nov 08 2019

Understanding Timing Requirements for Auto Accident Injury Claims

If you believe you’ve been the victim of negligence or any other issue that puts another party at fault for personal injury or property damage after a car accident, one of the first things you may be wondering about is how soon you have to file such a claim. Various laws have their own sets of statutes and limitations, and some worry they have to file quickly or else risk letting the statue expire.

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, LLC, we’re here to help with this and any other auto accident attorney services you may be requiring. Let’s go over our basic recommendations on filing your claim, what the Utah statute of limitations is for these kinds of issues, and some documents to ensure you have in order when preparing to file.

timing requirements auto accident claims

General Recommendations

Generally speaking, we always recommend you file a claim for a vehicle accident as soon as realistically possible following the event. Insurers and the at-fault party will try to use any tactic they can to hurt your case, and one such tactic might be muddying the waters by claiming they can’t accurately determine how much damage was caused since you took so much time to file.

While this is generally a spurious argument to begin with, it begins to hold a bit more weight if you wait too long to file. Our attorneys will advise you on the precise timing you should consider for your claim.

Utah Statute of Limitations

The Utah statute of limitations for personal injury cases involving personal harm or property harm in a vehicle accident is four years. If you do not file it within this period of time, the Utah court system is within their rights to refuse to hear it whatsoever. For more specifics on this, you can view the Utah Code with the full text on injury cases and their statute of limitations.

Important Documents for Filing a Claim

There are a few important documents to ensure you have in order for your filing, something our personal injury lawyers will help you with. Here are the most vital:

  • Police report: You should have filed a police report at the time of the accident, plus ensured you took the report number. This is to ensure the proper evidence is brought to court and the case isn’t decided by your word against another’s.
  • Medical documents: If you have to go to the hospital or emergency room as a result of your injuries, or even have to have a future medical appointment due to lingering whiplash issues, keep all the paperwork for your filing.
  • Insurance information: Be sure you get insurance information from the other driver, plus their contact information. Record their license plate as well.

For more on the timing involved in filing auto accident injury claims, 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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Sep 20 2019

Injuries and Liability Concerns With Malfunctioning Vehicle Airbags

As another recent round of airbag recalls is making big news, this time through a manufacturer called Takata, it’s a good time to remind readers that while airbags are meant to function in a way that promotes your safety, this isn’t always the case. Airbags are present in several varieties within a given vehicle, and while they often save lies, they can also be the cause of injury themselves when they’re defective.

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates LLC, not only do we provide comprehensive car accident attorney services, we’re also here to serve you if you believe a defective airbag has caused you injury or harm. Let’s go over some of the basics of airbag malfunctions, the common injuries that are sustained as a result, and whether you might have a liability case if this happens to you.

injuries liability malfunctioning vehicle airbags

Airbag Malfunction Concerns

While some consumers might think of airbags as soft, airy items that provide a nice little cushion after a collision, this simply isn’t the case. Rather, airbags deploy quickly and with great force when they’re called into action, providing a significant barrier that stops what can be very strong forward human motion after a vehicle accident.

While this force is often valuable for safety, it can also cause bodily harm. Especially in cases where an airbag is faulty or deploying based on a malfunction, those near them can be seriously injured in some cases.

Possible Airbag Malfunction Injuries

Due to the force exerted by a malfunctioning airbag, plus the related complete surprise that’s often brought on people in the vehicle, some of the following injuries are most common during these incidents:

  • Facial injuries: The face is the most common location to be impacted by a malfunctioning airbag deployment. Airbags can cause injury to the face, nose, mouth and eyes. In the worst cases, malfunctioning airbags have led to broken facial bones and even permanent blindness.
  • Neck or back injuries: Whether due to a direct impact or some kind of a rocking sensation, neck and back injuries – including concussions – can take place due to a faulty airbag. Neck injuries often progress into worsening pain issues for months or even years into the future.

Chest injuries: The airbag deploys fast to stop you from slamming into the steering wheel or dashboard, but a faulty product may do so incorrectly or when it isn’t needed, leading to upper body soft tissue and possible broken bone issues in the chest.

Liability and Attorney Services

While we would never accuse any company of intentionally placing faulty airbags in their vehicles, the fact remains that these issues do take place – and the manufacturer is often liable. If you’ve been injured by a faulty or malfunctioning airbag, contact our auto accident attorneys right away to determine if you might have a liability claim to make.

For more on airbag deployment, or to learn about any of our personal injury lawyer services, speak to the staff at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates LLC today.

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Aug 16 2019

E-Cigarettes and Potential Personal Injury Liability

Introduced just over a decade ago, electronic cigarettes – abbreviated e-cigarettes or simply e-cigs in many cases – have exploded in popularity around the country and even the globe. These devices, which are often marketed as safer, healthier alternatives to harmful cigarettes, come in numerous shapes and sizes, and from a number of different manufacturers.

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, our personal injury attorneys are beginning to see a rise in the number of cases related to these devices and their use. What are e-cigs, and are they truly healthier than cigarettes? Perhaps more importantly for our readers, are there situations where their manufacturers might be liable for certain negative outcomes? Here’s a look at everything you need to know.

e-cigarettes personal injury liability

E-Cigarette Basics

E-cigarettes comprise a variety of devices out there on the market today. Their basic construction involves a battery-powered tube that can heat up a pre-concocted solution, one generally made from a combination of nicotine, propylene glycol and glycerin. Together, these ingredients form a material that can be heated into vapor form, then inhaled by the user.

These devices come with numerous flavor choices. The general idea here is that by avoiding the true smoke and several other highly harmful elements of traditional cigarettes, this is a safer alternative for those who require a nicotine fix.

E-Cig Health Risks

And while it may indeed be true that e-cigarettes bring certain health upgrades on traditional cigarettes, they come with their own set of risks as well. Users may experience higher rates of respiratory problems, cardiovascular issues, eye irritation, and even potential harm to unborn babies. On top of this, a high percentage of e-cig users also still smoke regular cigarettes. To top it off, there’s limited research data on the long-term health effects of e-cigs.

Now, it’s important to note that many of these areas do not fall under the realm of personal injury. If you are using these devices by your own choice, you accept the basic assumed risks of inhaling substances that might not be good for you.

Non-Assumed Risks and Personal Injury

That said, there are several instances where the manufacturer of e-cigarettes could be listed as liable in a personal injury case. There have been several publicized incidents where these devices have overheated or even exploded, causing injury to the person using them or even others nearby. Issues such as facial burns, teeth knocked out, eye injuries, and even fractured bones in the face or nearby areas have all taken place. If you or a loved one has been the victim of such an event, it’s entirely possible you could have a claim against the manufacturer or vendor of these products, and you should contact a personal injury lawyer from our offices right away.

To learn more about e-cigarettes and personal injury cases, or for information on any of our car accident, dog bite or other attorney services, speak to the staff at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

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Aug 09 2019

Basics of EDR Vehicle Systems and Role in Accident Cases

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, LLC, we have a long history with car accident cases and can tell you about one common complicating factor: Hazy, unreliable memories. As authorities (and then later, personal injury attorneys) attempt to reconstruct the events of a given accident and determine who is at fault, imperfect memories – skewed even further by the trauma that just took place, in many cases – can make this process more difficult and complex.

Many know that the air industry has what are called black boxes, event recorders that keep track of important information in case there’s a crash or some other incident. Did you realize that modern vehicles have a version of this same technology as well? It’s called an event data recorder (EDR), and it’s a piece of technology that can often play a big role in auto accident injury and related personal injury cases. Here’s a primer on EDR systems and what you need to know about them.

EDR systems accident cases

EDR Basics and History

EDR systems were first created in the 1990s, and were originally designed as monitors for airbag deployment during vehicle accidents. Since then, they’ve increased their capacity significantly – they now record over 30 different data points, from seatbelt use to vehicle speed, brake usage, seat position, roll angles during a crash, weight of the occupants in their seats, and much more.

In the year 2014, US Congress passed a law requiring that all new vehicles manufactured in the country contain EDR systems. Most manufacturers had been using them well before this, however.

EDR Recording Types

There are two kinds of data recorded by EDR systems:

  • Deployment events: If any airbags in the vehicle deploy during the collision, all data from the event is permanently saved. This data includes information from just before the accident, during it, and then following it (about 20 seconds of data in total).
  • Nondeployment events: In cases where the airbags do not deploy, the same information will be tracked – but will only be stored for a period of time, then eventually overwritten. However, it can still be accessed in the short-term if necessary for investigators.

Reconstructing Accidents

As you might imagine, the data provided by EDR systems can be enormously valuable for helping reconstruct the events of an accident. Instead of working only with physical remnants of the accident and the memories of those involved, which can be hazy and outright unreliable in some cases after trauma, investigators can use the data provided to get a clearer picture. If you’re ever involved in an accident and believe the other party was at fault, contact our auto accident attorneys right away for help with locating and preserving EDR data for use in your case.

For more on EDR systems and how they can assist with vehicle accident cases, or to learn about any of our other personal injury attorney services, speak to the staff at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

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Aug 02 2019

Assessing Drowning Basics, Misconceptions and Liability

During the summer season each year, we unfortunately see a general rise in the number of drowning incidents that take place. Particularly risky for young children and adolescents, where it’s a leading cause of unintentional death, drowning can be a risk in a few different scenarios.

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, LLC, we handle numerous drowning cases within both our wrongful death and personal injury attorney services (drowning is not always a fatal event, as we’ll discuss in a bit). Let’s go over the basics of drowning, a couple common misconceptions that have made the rounds, and discuss whether there might be liability factors at play in certain drowning situations.

drowning basics misconceptions liability

Drowning Definition and Types

According to the World Health Organization, drowning is described as “the process of experiencing respiratory impairment from submersion/immersion in liquid; outcomes are classified as death, morbidity and no morbidity.”

As this paragraph indicates, and as we mentioned above, drowning encompasses many cases where death does not take place – in fact, the vast majority of recorded drownings are non-fatal. But even in these cases, drowning can be a major event, with even small amounts of liquid entering the lungs and causing damage to the lining found there. This liquid can also lead to infection, fluid buildup or inflammation. Luckily, the symptoms here will generally be easy to spot and remedy.

“Secondary Drowning” and Related Misconceptions

Unfortunately, a number of popular news outlets and social media mediums have published reports about something called “secondary drowning” or “dry drowning.” These terms refer to cases where children or others were rescued from water during a potential drowning situation, appeared just fine immediately afterward, but then died without warning hours or even days later.

The terms listed above are not medically accurate, and in reality these situations are virtually nonexistent. If death or other drowning symptoms do take place long after the initial event, there will be signs pointing to this – your child will have labored breathing, for instance, or may cough, wheeze, report chest pain or even become dizzy. In other cases, a different medical condition is the reason for the death or other symptoms. If you see any of these signs in someone who was rescued from water, seek immediate medical attention.

Drowning and Liability

In some cases, a person who has drowned or their family may have a liability claim related to the incident. The most common such situations are those where a public swimming location was not safe – perhaps conditions make slips more likely, or deep water was not marked properly. If it can be proven that negligence on the part of pool operators, or even of others present in the pool at the time, was the cause of a drowning incident, the victim could have a claim. If you believe this to be the case for you or someone close to you, speak to our personal injury lawyers right away to find out more.

To learn more about drowning cases, or for information on any of our personal injury or auto accident attorney services, speak to the staff at William Rawlings & Associates, LLC today.

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Jul 19 2019

Personal Injury Claims and Pre-Existing Conditions

If you’ve suffered one of several forms of personal injury where another party is potentially liable, you’ll often be claiming compensation from the insurance company associated with this party. And as unfortunate as it may seem, while these companies are ostensibly in place to protect groups and individuals in case of incidents like this, insurance providers will often fight tooth and nail to avoid paying out this compensation if they don’t have to.

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, our personal injury attorneys have years of experience dealing with insurance companies and their various tactics for attempting to refuse payment to deserving clients. One common strategy these companies will take: Attempting to deny your claim based on what’s called a pre-existing condition. Let’s go over everything you need to know here.

personal injury pre-existing conditions

Insurance Companies and Pre-Existing Conditions

As we alluded to above, even if they attempt to claim otherwise, insurance companies generally aren’t on your side whatsoever as you attempt to seek damages for an accident. One of their top potential tactics is using a pre-existing medical condition you already had present as the reason for injuries that were actually caused by a vehicle accident that, in reality, had nothing to do with the condition in question.

Unfortunately, this reflects the fact that insurance companies are for-profit businesses that want to keep their profits high. Even when it involves morally questionable areas like erroneously leaning on your medical history to direct the blame for your injuries elsewhere, they’re willing to do it. They’ll generally attempt to prove that your injury was solely caused by your pre-existing condition, and not in any way cause or even aggravated by the accident in question.

Pre-Existing Condition Examples

There are a number of pre-existing conditions insurance companies may look to here, including (but not limited to) each of the following:

  • Various heart conditions
  • High blood pressure
  • Asthma or allergies
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Depression
  • Type 2 diabetes

Complications from various past medical treatments you’ve received (this one is particularly common if you’ve had any recent surgeries or operations).

Making a Successful Claim

A few areas that are important for ensuring an insurance company is not successful at erroneously placing the blame for an accident on your pre-existing condition include:

  • Doctor: You should see a doctor or another medical professional as soon as possible after the accident. They can specifically document the injuries you suffered due to the accident, including exacerbation of prior conditions due to the accident (if the accident is proven to have not been your fault, you’ll be due compensation in this case).
  • Truthfulness: Never lie about your pre-existing condition – insurance companies have high-level researchers in their employ, and they’ll find out the truth. If you are dishonest, this can be used against you in court.
  • Police: Cooperate with all police and first responders after an accident, plus ask for a full police report to use as evidence in your case.

For more on avoiding circumstances where an insurance company denies your claim based on a pre-existing condition, or to learn about any of our personal injury or auto accident attorney services, speak to the staff at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

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Jul 12 2019

Fault and Liability for Construction Zone Vehicle Accidents

While we wish it were not the case, construction zones on or near roadways are potential hotbeds for accidents and hazardous conditions. A far-too-large number of both construction workers and drivers alike are hurt or even killed in work zones due to traffic accidents every year, in many cases due to negligence by one party or another.

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, LLC, we’re proud to provide auto accident injury attorney services for a variety of car accident types, including those that take place in or around construction zones. Let’s look at some data on how common these incidents are, some important information on both driver and work zone responsibility, and how to handle things if you believe you have a case against another party in this realm following an accident.

liability construction zone accidents

Data on Construction Zones and Accidents

Per a study by the Federal Highway Administration back in 2010, construction zone sites featured nearly 90,000 vehicle accidents per year at the time of the research – numbers that have only increased in the subsequent years. Those accidents led to nearly 40,000 injuries, plus significant property damage and, of course, many deaths.

In addition, hundreds of road construction workers are hurt or killed in work zones every year. These deaths or injuries are often avoidable based on a few important factors, which we’ll discuss below.

Driver Responsibility

It’s important to note that despite the fact that construction zones do often present different road conditions or even potential hazards, drivers in these areas have reasonable levels of responsibility placed on them. They must remain within the proper directed areas within any work zone, and also need to be paying attention, observing the speed limit and preparing themselves in case of being instructed in any way by a licensed construction zone worker. Failure to meet any of these basic standards could mean liability for an accident rests at the feet of the driver in many situations.

Work Zone Requirements and Possible Issues

In addition to driver requirements, there are several basic conditions that must be met by construction zone organizers and workers to ensure the area is safe near a roadway:

  • Signage: Signs must be both correct and easily legible, plus not confusing or misleading in any way.
  • Warnings: In any situation where lanes close, shift or merge, or when a significant change in speed is required, drivers must be given sufficient visual warning.
  • Cones and barrels: Cones and barrels are regularly used to mark off certain construction areas, and they must be placed correctly.
  • Dangerous road conditions: Pavement that’s uneven, blocked, contains large holes or isn’t properly lighted should be limited, and must be identified to drivers.

Vehicles: Construction vehicles entering or leaving the primary roadway must do so carefully and without being reckless.

Accidents and Liability

If you’ve been involved in an accident in a construction zone, the above factors will go a long way toward determining fault and liability. If you feel a construction zone has not met any of the above-stated conditions, you might have a claim against this party – contact our car accident attorneys right away to find out more.

For more on this or any of our other personal injury attorney services, speak to the staff at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

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