18 Wheeler Accidents | Tennessee Personal Injury Lawyers

The majority of car wrecks involving large trucks were pulling semi-trailers at the time of the accident. Specifically, 62% of large trucks were pulling semi-trailers in fatal crashes and 48% in nonfatal crashes. For fatal crashes,“Driver-related factors” were attributed to 34% of the large truck drivers (according to the U.S. department of Transportation).

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In addition, it shows that a “collision with another motor vehicle”, caused injury or property damage in 76% of fatal crashes and 80% of injury crashes. Of these, the overwhelming majority (91% fatal,94% injury) involved the cars you and I drive everyday: passenger vehicles.

The reality is, no matter what the statistics happen to be, they don’t really matter when you or a loved one is injured or killed in an 18 wheeler truck accident. Those are just numbers. Your loss. Your pain. That is what’s real.

You also have to take into account: damage to your vehicle, (often times in need of total replacement) any impact to your quality of life, (physical,emotional and mental health),and ability to perform your job.

On top of all the other issues you have to consider in an auto accident, there are even more factors at play in accident that involve large trucks. The driver could be under pressure from their employer to perform or just trying to make a living. This can contribute to the top driver related causes in fatalities for accidents with large trucks. Such as: speeding (including driving too fast for road or weather conditions), driver distraction, various forms of impairment (illness,sleepiness, alcohol), not staying in the correct lane, and obscured vision (according to the FMCSA).

In addition, anytime you are dealing with a commercial vehicle, the complexity of determining who is liable for damages increases. You have the driver of the vehicle (18 wheelers), the trucking company (or other commercial vehicle company) (usually the employer), the insurance company, and maybe even the vehicle or trailer manufacturer.

When you are involved in a crash with a 18 wheeler, no matter who is at fault, you run a much higher risk of injury and death then the 18 wheeler. Always pay attention while driving and follow these safe driving tips. Caution and observation are your best chances of staying clear of injury. In the event you are in an accident, make sure to follow these steps and find a knowledgeable and reputable personal injury lawyer.
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Are you Liable for Someone Else’s Driving?

 

When another person’s driving negligence could cause you to be sued

With the majority of car accident cases, determining who is at fault is the main issue in regards to compensation and liability. Generally, this means that one driver’s negligence or reckless driving caused the accident and is therefore liable for damages. You might not be aware however, that there are some circumstances that you could be held liable for a car wreck and be sued for negligence even though you were not the person driving the vehicle or even in the car at the time of the incident.

Responsibility of one person’s negligent actions (in this case while driving) to another person can fall under Vicarious Liability, or imputed negligence. This type of negligence results when two people have a certain relationship. These could include employer-employee or parent-child relationships.

You should know the circumstances in which you could be held liable for another person’s action to protect yourself from being sued, or if you are in a car wreck and need to seek compensation for personal injury and damage to your vehicle.

Here are several situations when the law could assign fault (liability) to a person other than the driver of the vehicle:

 

Children Driving their Parent’s Car

 Parents can be liable for their child’s negligent driving if they allow their child to use the family car in many states. This is due to laws and legal theories such as: Negligent entrustment-where one party (the entrustor), or parent in this situation, is held liable for negligence because they negligently (knowingly) provided another party (the entrustee) or child in this situation, with the vehicle when the parent is aware the child is inexperienced,incompetent,reckless,or unlicensed.

Then there is The family purpose doctrine- which holds the owner of the car (usually the mother or father) liable for damages to others when a member of the family is driving the vehicle ( regardless of permission being given or not).This is because the vehicle is owned for family purposes.The application of this law can vary from state to state.

The person who signs a minor’s application for a driver’s license will make that person legally responsible(therefore liable) for negligent driving of the minor in some states. In most cases the parent will be the one to sign their child’s application, holding them liable for the negligent driving of the child

Employees Driving an Employers Car

Employers are by law, held responsible for the negligent driving of employees when the employee is performing duties related to their job. The law can hold one party liable for the wrongful acts of another party when the two parties have certain relationships with each other under vicarious liability.

So for example, if an employee of yours is driving a company car during work hours and their negligent driving (going well over the speed limit for example) causes an accident with another car you will be held liable for the damages your employee caused to the other driver and their vehicle.

You Knowingly Allowed an Unfit or Incompetent Person to Use Your Car

Negligent Entrustment can also be applied outside of family relationships. If you allowed another driver to use your car and they are unfit to drive, and that person’s negligent driving caused a car wreck, you would be held liable for personal injuries and other damages resulting from the accident. With these cases it is up to the person bringing the lawsuit (plaintiff) to prove the entrustor (car owner)was aware, or should have been aware, the entrustee (driver you allowed to use your car) was not fit to drive (or incompetent) when the permission to drive your vehicle was given.

How do I know if a person is not fit to drive?

There are several types of people that, if you lend your car to, could cause you to be liable for the damages caused by the driver while operating your vehicle.

This can include:

  • Underage or unlicensed drivers

  • Intoxicated drivers

  • Drivers suffering from an illness that affects their ability to drive

  • Drivers with a known history of reckless driving

  • Elderly Drivers (if there advanced age has caused them to be unfit to drive)

 

You Allowed an Individual to Drive Your Car

Lastly, it is important to know that in some states the law holds the car owner liable for the negligent driving actions of anyone operating their vehicle. Unlike the previously mentioned circumstances, no special relationship is required. In states with these laws, when a car owner gives permission to an individual to drive their vehicle, the owner is responsible for negligent driving of the person driving your car.

 

In the event you are in a car accident make sure to follow these steps.Then you should speak with a qualified personal injury lawyer when deciding if you need to sue after the car wreck to seek compensation for damages caused by another driver’s negligence.

Car Wrecks and Negligence

 How to determine who is at fault

After you have covered the immediate steps on What to do after a vehicle accident, you will need to consider seeking compensation for injuries received to you and others in the car, as well as damage to your vehicle.You may have to consider suing after your car wreck to gain this compensation. At the very least you will have to file a claim with your insurance provider. A key part of receiving compensation will be determining who is at fault in the traffic accident.This generally means figuring out who was negligent (and therefore liable for damages).

Often times it can be clear which party was negligent but it is helpful to know what rules or laws the individual violated. You can reinforce your argument to an insurance company (or judge)  that someone else was at fault for an accident if you can present documentation and support for your claim. These sources could help your argument.

Police Reports

In most car accident cases, the police will be called to the scene (especially if someone was injured). The officer at the scene of the incident will most likely make a written accident report.The report may indicate the officers belief that one person violated a traffic law and caused the accident. There may even be a citation issued for that violation. This information can be a good source of evidence demonstrating that the other person was at fault.

Be sure to obtain a copy of the accident report. There will be different methods of obtaining a copy of a crash report depending on which agency investigated the crash. (Tennessee Highway Patrol, County Sheriff’s office, or the city police department). You can check with the traffic division of the police department about getting a copy of the report. Additional information to help you obtain an accident report in Tennessee can be found at http://www.tn.gov/safety/DLFAQS/dlquestion10.shtml.

State Traffic Laws

When building evidence for your claim that another driver was at fault for the car wreck, you should look at the state laws pertaining to driving.These statutes may show that a law was broken and can contribute to your argument.

Search for listings that may apply to your accident.These could include: failure to yield,speed limits,or texting while driving a vehicle. You can check with your local Driver Service Center (Driver License Manuals http://www.tn.gov/safety/dlhandbook/menu.shtml)for information, as well as many public libraries.

Some additional places that may help your research are:

 

If you find information that could apply to your wreck, be sure to copy down the information exactly as it appears as well as the statute number. This way you can reference the law when making your claim with the insurance company or talking with your legal representative.

“No-Doubt” Liability

There are a couple of specific accident types where the other driver is usually at fault, and a lot of the time insurance companies will not bother to dispute the claim.Your argument may be easier to prove if you are involved in one of these.

Rear-End Collisions

When someone hits you from behind, it is very rarely your fault, no matter the reason why you stopped. As a general rule of driving, a vehicle is required to be able to stop safely if traffic is stopped in front of them. This can be accomplished by:

  • not following too close behind another vehicle

  • obeying the speed limit

  • always paying attention to the road

If the driver is unable to stop safely then they are not being as careful as the driver in front of them.

It is generally easy to prove a rear-end claim because the vehicle damage shows what happened during the accident.If car “A” ‘s front end is damaged and car “B” ‘s rear end is damaged then it is fairly clear which car struck the other.

There are times when the driver of the vehicle that hit you from behind may have a claim against someone else that caused you to suddenly stop, or perhaps a third car that caused their car to hit your vehicle. However, the responsibility of damages to yourself and damage to your car remain with the person that rear-ended you.

It is important to know that even if you have been rear-ended there are some instances where your own actions could reduce the compensation you receive due to the rule of “comparative negligence”, which is, “a rule of law applied in accident cases to determine responsibility and damages based on the negligence of every party directly involved in the accident”. For example if  you have a tail or brake light out ,or if you had mechanical issues with your vehicle but did not attempt to move the vehicle off the roadway.

Left-Turn Accidents

Accidents in which a car making a left-turn hits a car going straight in the other direction is another instance in which fault is generally easy to determine. The car making a left turn is almost always liable for the collision under these conditions. The location of vehicle damage often makes it hard for the driver to argue that the accident occurred differently than during a left turn.Remember that a basic driving rule is: cars making left turns are required to wait until they can complete the turn safely before making the turn in front of oncoming traffic.

There are however, a few  rare circumstances where this is not the case. These exceptions are not easy to prove but could affect the assignment of fault. Some instances to consider are: The car going straight ran a red light, the car going straight was driving excessively over the legal speed limit, or in very rare cases, the car turning left started turning when it was safe to do so but an unexpected circumstances caused the driver to decrease their speed or stop entirely.

 

 Be sure to check out this additional information on car accidents , personal injury,and Tennessee Driving Laws

Nationwide “Operation Safe Driver” Blitz

The week of October 20th-26th law enforcement agencies will be teaming up with the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) for “Operation Safe Driver“.  The goal is to “take aim at distracted driving and encourage driving safely around trucks”.

Here is why:

According to the CVSA:

  • Nearly 4,000 people are killed and 100,000 other are injured in large truck and bus crashes each year on the highways
  • A CDC survey last year revealed that 58% of high school seniors and 43% of high school juniors said they had texted or emailed while driving during the previous month
  • The National Highway Traffic Safetly Administration (NHTSA) reports that, for drivers 15-19 years old involved in fatal crashes, 21% of the distracted drivers were distracted by the use of cell phones
  • Of all drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes, 11% were reported as distracted at the time of the crash. This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted

On October 24th at Cookeville High School  the Tennessee Tennessee Trucking Foundation, with the support from the Tennessee Highway Patrol and the Tennessee Governor’s Highway Safety Office will be holding an event to help increase driver education and awareness about safe operations around commercial motor vehicles.

Last year the “Operation Safe Driver” campaign resulted in 40,000 commercial and passenger vehicle engagements at 1,245 locations throughout the U.S. and Canada. This year’s blitz is expected to be comparable to last year.

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Find more information about Operation Safe Driver at www.cvsa.org/osd/

For additional information on safe driving in Tennessee check out tips to help you avoid car wrecks, Tennessee Safe driving laws, and Truck and Tractor Trailer wrecks in Tennessee

Tips to Help You Avoid Car Wrecks or Collisions and Avoid Needing an Attorney

Safety Tips to help you Avoid Car Wrecks

Tennessee driving laws are put in place for the safety of all drivers. In addition to the laws, there are several safe driving tips that can help you avoid a car wreck in Tennessee and anywhere else you drive.

Regular Car Maintenance

Keeping your car in good health helps you avoid accidents.This can include things like: keeping your mirrors and windshield clean, replacing worn out wiper blades,checking your fluid levels, and making sure all lights and turn signals are working properly.

Unsafe Driving Conditions

Stay of the roads as often as possible during inclement weather. If you must be on the roads during bad conditions make sure to take your time, reduce your speed, and avoid any sudden movements. It is much easier to lose control of your vehicle during bad weather and can lead to a higher chance of a car accident.Always drive with your headlights on during bad weather to increase your visibility and to allow other to better see you.

Always use your turn signal

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Not applying your turn signal every time can lead to a car accident.Using your turn signals lets other people around you know your intentions. In case a motorcyclist or other driver is in your blind spot a turn signal maybe their only warning you are coming over and give them time to react.

Have a Plan

It is a good idea to have a plan already in place in case of an accident or vehicle breakdown. Make sure you have a list of numbers to call for emergency assistance. Have an emergency safety kit available in your vehicle.These can be bought or put together yourself. Consider including: a first aid kit,gloves,jumper cables, and empty gas can.

You should also be aware of your legal rights in the event you are involved in an auto accident that results in personal injury and consider hiring a lawyer if necessary.

The Importance of Meeting Your Attorney In Person

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Why Meeting Your Attorney in Person Matters

With any business it is important to meet in person. This is just as true when hiring a lawyer in Murfreesboro TN, or New York City. No matter if you are hiring an attorney after an auto accident, business litigation, medical malpractice, or personal injury you need to meet your lawyer face to face.

When you hire an attorney  you are entering into a relationship. Meeting face to face builds a stronger relationship. Instilling trust, humanization and familiarity. These are the foundations of a positive relationship. You should meet your attorney at least once before starting any legal case. It is also a good idea to have a meeting a couple of days before any court dates. This way you can hammer out any details or questions you or your lawyer have about the case or the court proceedings.

What to Talk About

It is also a chance to ask questions about the lawyers and law practice, talk about fee arrangements between you and the firm, and  fill out any paper work that may be required. In addition it gives the lawyer you have hired  the chance to talk to you about your case and get answers to the facts about your potential claim (such as how were you injured or wronged and what you expect to recover or have compensated).

This will also be a time that your attorney can give you advice on how to proceed with your particular claim which will be different depending on the type of claim or case (automobile accident,business litigation,personal injury). It will also help the lawyer understand your particular needs giving you the opportunity to directly state your concerns and to give all the background and facts surrounding your claim.

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How to Prepare for Meeting your Lawyer

Make sure to prepare before hand in order to make the most of your meeting. Create a list of questions to ask your attorney. What are your goals? What is the fee? What is the process for your particular claim? What are the next steps? What will be required of you? It may also be a time for your attorney to evaluate you as a witness and a client. Make sure to be honest and open with your lawyer and do not lie or mislead them. This could damage your case and your relationship with your attorney. Be sure to take any supporting documents with you such as witness statements, medical records, evaluations, and evidence. If you are unable to work due to injury make sure to have a summary of the financial damages.

Having these questions as well as answer to ones your lawyer will ask will help ensure you both get the most out of your meeting and will be a great first step in your business relationship.

Know Your Tennessee State Driving Laws

No matter if you are driving to the store or on the interstate on the way to a weekend getaway it is important to obey all state traffic laws. Not only will it keep you legal it will also help keep you safe and free of injury.

The 2011/2012 Annual Report of the Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security states that the Tennessee Highway Patrol issued 340,575 citations (including DUI,Seat Belt Violations, and Speeding Trucks) during the Fiscal Year of 2011-2012. They also investigated 27,454 crashes during this same time. These stats only include the Tennessee Highway Patrol so the number only grows  larger when you include local statistics as well. Read  below to help make sure you are compliant with TN state driving laws and to aid in avoiding a car accident.

Important Tennessee State Driving Laws

A big part of staying safe while driving is obeying traffic laws at all times.Breaking the driving laws could cost you financially too. Here are a few laws to be aware of:

Failure to Yield to Emergency Vehicles

Tennessee has a move over law (TCA 55-8-132) that requires vehicles to move into the lane away from law enforcement and emergency vehicles, whenever possible. If you can not move over you are required to slow down and put as much room as possible between your vehicle and the emergency vehicle and its operators. This is for the safety of all parties.

Safety Belts

Always wear your seat belt Not only is it the safe thing to do it is also required by Law. Drivers in the state of Tennessee are required to wear safety belts while operating a motor vehicle in Tennessee (TCA 55-9-603).

Child Restraints

Just as you are required to wear a safety belt so are all child passengers through the age of eight required to be in child restraint devices (TCA 55-9-602). The specifics of the law vary depending on the child’s age and weight so be sure that you are in compliance of the law.

Texting While Driving

Texting while driving a vehicle in the state of Tennessee is illegal (TCA 55-8-199) so avoid it while driving to keep your self and others safe. If you must text pull into a parking lot and put your vehicle into park before texting.

Driving under the Influence

It is never safe to drive under the influence of drugs and alcohol but it is also illegal (TCA 55-10-401 and 55-10-403). The Tennessee Highway Patrol alone had 5,428 DUI Arrests from the fiscal year of 2011-2012. According to the law individuals are presumed to be under the influence of alcohol with a BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration) of .08%.

In the Event of  an Auto Accident

Immediately contact emergency services if anyone is injured and local law enforcement or the Tennessee Highway Patrol (*847). Also remember to call your insurance company as soon as possible.

If you are involved in a traffic accident  that results in personal injury make sure you have a plan in place and be sure to hire a lawyer to protect your rights.

Information about Truck and Tractor Trailer Wrecks in Tennessee

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High Traffic roads for Large Trucks in Tennessee

Tennessee ranks sixth in the nation and first in the Southeast for cargo-ton-miles and value commodities carried by a truck (according to the Tennessee Trucking Association and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration). In addition approximately 80% of all manufactured freight transported in Tennessee is by Truck. This means that Tennessee roadways are always filled with tractor trailers and other large trucks.

Truck accidents don’t happen just on Interstates

Tennessee has many interstates across the state and many trucks pass through them on their way to other destinations. Avoiding major cities does not mean you are safe from wrecks with tractor trailers.Sixty-eight percent of all fatal truck accidents happened in rural areas so being away from a big city doesn’t mean it won’t happen and you need to always be cautious driving no matter where you are. Remember to avoid truck blind spots, observe a truck’s turn signal, and use correct passing procedures to help avoid these accidents.

Many Reasons for a Large Truck Wreck

There can be many causes to an accident.One of the most common is truck driver fatigue due to the rigorous schedules they work.However, even if the driver is not at fault there could still be reasons for the accident. One of which could be vehicle condition.It is up to the truck driver and trucking companies to have well maintained trucks. So even if it appears the person is not at fault there could still be an underlying vehicle issue that lead to the accident.

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Large Truck Accidents are Different from Car to Car Wrecks

A vehicle wreck where a large truck is involved can be different than an accident with another car. There are several more factors at play, including: insurance requirements, driver training, and many federal and state laws and regulations.Truck drivers and trucking companies are represented by large insurance agencies You will need legal representation for yourself in these cases so that your lawyer can handle the insurance companies and laws and you can focus on recovery.

Accidents with Large Trucks can cost You a lot of Money

It is estimated that around 500,000 trucking accident occur every year in the United states. Out of these around 5,000 accidents result in fatalities and many more involve injuries. However, even if no serious injury was incurred you could be looking at a huge financial impact.The average cost of a commercial truck accident is about $59,150. So even if you are fortunate enough to be uninjured in your accident you still could be looking at a serious financial loss. You can bet that the truck company will have their insurance company fighting to pay as little of that as possible. It is important to have skilled representation anytime you are involved in an accident (especially when it involves a commercial truck).

Personal Injury Law – Frequently Asked Questions

Personal injury refers to civil cases in which a party (The Plaintiff) sues another individual or company (The Defendant) for personal injury, property damage, lost wages, pain and suffering, or any other kind of loss or injury. To recover compensation, a plaintiff must prove that there was an act or failure to act on the part of the Defendant which caused some damage to the Plaintiff.

This area of law includes automobile accidents, products liability, professional negligence and premises liability cases.

A person who suffers injury as the result of someone else’s negligence in the State of Tennessee typically has up to one year from the date of the injury to file a lawsuit. In most cases, failure to file suit within that one year will prevent the Plaintiff from making any recovery.

Understanding Automobile Insurance Gaps | Legal Advice

Most people believe that if they get “full coverage” they are covered for anything an automobile accident throws at them.  Unfortunately, this is not the case.  Very few insurance agents take the time to truly explain how liability insurance interacts with uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage and medical payments coverage.  Often people do not understand what they are purchasing, they are mostly interested in the number behind the $.  If you understand how the auto insurance coverages work, you can be sure you are protected and know what to expect if you are ever involved in a motor vehicle collision.

Liability Insurance

The liability coverage is what is required by the State, and the current minimum coverage is $25,000.00 per person/$50,000 per accident.  But what does that mean and who does it cover?  If another driver smashes into your vehicle with you and 1 passenger in it, then both you and your passenger may receive up to $25,000 from the other driver’s automobile insurance. If there are three people in your car, then the three of you will be fighting to divide up $50,000 so long as none of you get more than $25,000.

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) Coverage

So what happens when your medical expenses alone exceed the $25,000 minimum limits of the other driver?  Or worse yet, what if they did not have coverage at all?  Was the collision a hit and run?  You have “full coverage” on your car, so why will your insurance only pay to fix your car?  If you are asking these questions, chances are, you may not like the answers.

Full coverage insurance is often nothing more than liability and collision insurance for damages to your vehicle.  You will need to pay your deductible before your insurance company will pay a dime.  Your insurance does not automatically cover your injuries if the other driver does not have insurance or does not have enough insurance.  You must have UM/UIM coverage with limits higher than the other driver’s limits if you want your insurance company to pay.  This is an optional coverage many people decline to purchase.  This is essentially relying on your fellow drivers to have all complied with the law, and gambling on any injury you may receive being relatively minor.

Medical Payments Coverage

You may think that since you have health insurance through your employer, a government program, or a private policy that you are covered no matter what causes your need for medical attention.  If you are involved in a motor vehicle collision you will quickly discover how much this assumption will cost you.

Most medical facilities refuse to bill your health insurance for injuries due to a motor vehicle collision (and certain other circumstances).  After the initial emergency room treatment, many individuals have difficulty obtaining medical treatment because the medical providers refuse to see someone under their health insurance for motor vehicle collision injuries.  The other driver’s insurance is not going to pay anything until your medical treatment is concluded so they can write one check.  This is where having medical payments coverage comes into play.

If you have medical payments coverage, it will cover your medicals until it has been exhausted.  Your ambulance bill, ER bill, radiology bills, emergency physician bills, family physician, specialist, therapy, etc. can all bill your insurance company under this medical payments coverage and be paid 100%.  Sadly, most people have $1,000 or $5,000 in medical payments coverage.  This is exhausted just from the emergency treatment, so then they are back in the same boat.

Getting counsel early in the process will help make sure you can make the most of your medical payments coverage.  Not only can that, but having a lawyer can help you force your insurance company to pay the bills.  There are deadlines for submitting medicals to health insurance companies and your auto insurance may have subrogation on the final settlement that will need to be addressed before you can settle the claim.

Interaction of Coverages

Most serious collision injuries will involve some or all of the above insurance coverages.  When there is insurance coverage available, the medical payments coverage will kick in first. If you have this on your auto policy, they will help you pay for medical treatment right away.  Once that coverage is exhausted, your health insurance should kick in and pay for the remainder of treatment (minus your deductible and copay).

Once the treatment is completed, the other driver’s insurance should pay for the injuries up to the limits of their policy.  When they do, your health insurance and your medical payments coverage will want to be paid back.  After the other driver has tendered the full amount of their policy limits, the UM/UIM coverage will kick in to pay the remainder of your damages.

Insurance companies are in business to make money.  The do this by delaying payment or denying payment on legitimate claims, offering less than a case is worth, and getting people to settle before their medical treatment is finished for less than the case is worth.  Too many people are trying to save money by trimming their insurance to the State minimums or canceling their insurance altogether.  This leaves them unprotected if they are injured, and leaves anyone they injure without adequate compensation for their injuries.  Knowing how these policies interact will help injured persons understand what options they have when purchasing coverage for their families and when they are the injured party.  Skilled and knowledgeable counsel can assist you in getting the most out of your claim and your insurance.

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