Disclaimer - By publishing this information on this Web site, the Boston, Massachusetts law firm of Altman & Altman LLP is not claiming to represent any clients or cases mentioned here. The content provided is designed to inform readers and is not intended as legal advice.

A person can fall and get injured for a variety of reasons—icy walkways, uneven pavement, intoxication, and even a bad knee or hip—to name a few. When the accident is the result of another’s negligence, the injury victim may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages. But proving that someone else is responsible for your injury isn’t always an easy task. Read on for more information about slip and fall injuries and how to prove that another party is liable.

Proving Liability

To prove liability in a slip and fall case, you must be able to show that one of the following two situations contributed to your injury:

  • The owner of the property, or an employee of a company, should reasonably have recognized the hazardous condition, such as an icy walkway or uneven pavement, and repaired the problem, but failed to do so.
  • The owner of the property, or an employee, caused the hazardous condition (i.e. spilled a slippery substance on the floor of a grocery store) and should have reasonably foreseen that someone could be injured if the condition wasn’t removed or repaired.

If, for example, you slipped on a substance that had been spilled only moments earlier, and a wet floor sign had been placed beside the spill while an employee went to get cleaning supplies, you may have a difficult time proving negligence. A Boston slip and fall attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

Important Questions to Consider

In order for a slip and fall case to be successful, the responsible party must have failed to act in a manner that a reasonable person would have acted in under the same or similar circumstances. To determine this, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • Did the dangerous condition exist for a long enough time that a reasonable person could have removed or repaired it (consider the spilled substance example above)?
  • Did the owner of the property perform routine checks and maintenance on the property? If so, did he/she keep a log?
  • Was there a justifiable reason for the hazardous condition, and was it still present at the time of the accident?
  • Could the potential danger have been lessened with preventive measures, such as blocking access to the area or placing warning signs next to the hazard?
  • Did poor lighting contribute to the accident?

The above questions can help you and your attorney determine whether or not negligence played a role in your injuries, and who may be liable. A MA slip and fall lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

Helpful Tips

In addition to the questions above, you can improve your chances of success by following the tips below:

  • Take pictures of the scene of the accident. If you are unable to do so, ask if a witness can help. Photograph anything that contributed to the accident, such as a wet floor or debris in a walkway, and any injuries.
  • Ask witnesses for their contact information. If you decide to file a lawsuit, witness testimony can be invaluable to your case.
  • Write down everything that happened before you forget the details. Memories fade surprisingly fast.
  • Seek medical attention immediately following the incident. An official medical record will help to substantiate your claim.

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Uber and other ride-sharing services have completely changed the landscape of transportation in Boston and millions of other locations across the globe. For the most part, Uber has provided a loved, and much needed service. But the company has also attracted a lot of negative press in recent months and years. Numerous scandals, controversies, and lawsuits have people questioning Uber’s safety and morals.

Now a woman is suing Uber and her driver for injuries she suffered when her driver ran a red light, causing a serious accident. According to Jimena Martinez’s lawsuit, Ricardo Melendez II was distracted by his smart phone at the time of the accident. As a result, he ran a red light and was t-boned by a 16-year-old driver. A Boston car accident attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

Martinez claims that she suffered head trauma, a joint separation in her shoulder, and multiple abrasions in the accident. And according to the police report, the driver’s distraction was the primary factor in the crash. But Martinez blames more than just the driver. She believes that Uber is guilty of gross negligence for encouraging its drivers to routinely look at and touch their smart phones while driving.

Is Uber Encouraging Drivers to be Negligent?

Martinez’s lawsuit alleges that Uber requires drivers to mount their phones on the vehicle’s dashboard to better see and respond to ride requests. When a request comes in, drivers have a mere 15 seconds within which to tap the phone, thus accepting the fare. It is not difficult to see how this system could contribute to distracted driving. Few, if any, drivers are going to pull over to a safe location before responding to these time-sensitive requests. And with more and more Uber drivers on the road, this problem is not just an inconvenience.

Although Martinez is seeking more than $1 million in damages, she has requested that the jury make a determination on the exact amount. According to her lawyer, Martinez’s medical bills are already in excess of $80,000. In addition, she had to quit her job and drop out of college due to her injuries. A MA auto accident lawyer can help you protect your rights if you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle crash.

Distracted Driving Statistics

The reality is, the case above highlights a problem that is much bigger than Uber, Lyft, and other ride sharing apps. Distracted driving continues to be one of the primary causes of motor vehicle crashes across the country. In fact, 3,450 people died as a result of distracted driving in 2016 alone.

  • Of the 2.5 million people car accidents that occur annually in the United States, about 1.6 million involve a cell phone.
  • Texting while driving contributes to more than 330,000 serious injury accidents annually.
  • One out of every four accidents involves texting.
  • Your chance of having an accident while texting is six times greater than if you were drunk driving.
  • Distracted driving involves more than just texting and talking on the phone; adjusting the stereo system, navigating, eating, and applying make-up are all forms of distraction.

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Mass shootings have dominated the media in recent months and years, resulting in a heated debate about gun control laws nationwide. The number one question following every one of these tragedies is: How did the shooter get a gun?

In many recent mass shootings, the shooter obtained the gun legally, prompting many Americans to call for stricter gun legislation at the state and federal levels. In the most recent shooting, in which a white man shot four African-Americans in a Tennessee Waffle House, the shooter obtained the gun from his father, who had a legal right to possess the firearm.

Can Victims Sue Gun Sellers?

In a 2012 mass shooting that also claimed four lives, the gunman bought his gun at online gun retailer Armslist.com. Now the daughter of one of those victims is suing Armslist, alleging that they contributed to the murder of her mother. The court initially dismissed the case, but an appeals court has ruled that it can continue. A Boston injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if another’s negligence has caused you harm.

Radcliffe Haughton shot and killed four people at a spa in Milwaukee in 2012. Among the victims was his estranged wife, Zina. According to federal law, Haughton was prohibited from owning any type of firearm due to his history of domestic violence. But Haughton found a loophole. In Wisconsin, purchases at dealers require a background check and waiting period, but private sales do not. Therefore, Haughton was able to purchase a gun, from a private seller, through the Armslist website.

The lawsuit against Armslist was actually filed by the shooter’s stepdaughter. Yasmeen Daniel, the daughter of one of Haughton’s victims who also happened to be his estranged wife Zina, alleged that Armslist lacked necessary safeguards to prevent guns from getting into the wrong hands, and even facilitated and encouraged the illegal sale through its website’s design.

After the circuit court determined that Armslist could not be liable for the death of any of Haughton’s victims, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals ruled that the company may have used a “website design feature to facilitate illegal firearms purchases,” and allowed the lawsuit to continue. A MA injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured by another’s negligence.

Statistics on Mass Shootings

Between 1966 and 2018, there have been 154 mass shootings, resulting in 1,081 deaths. Some of the shooters had criminal pasts or a history of domestic abuse, while others seemed perfectly normal up until the attack. All of the shooters but three were men. Most were between 20 and 49 years of age, and more than half died at the scene, often an act of suicide.

There has been an increase in large, mass shootings in recent years, with just three—those at Sandy Hook elementary school, a Las Vegas club, and Parkland high school—claiming the lives of nearly 100 people, many of them children. Several states have tightened their gun legislation in response. With MA having one of the strictest gun control laws in the nation, our rate of gun violence has seen a dramatic drop. Continue reading

Earlier this week, a tragic accident involving a 16-year-old boy and an automatic seat in a Honda Odyssey Minivan occurred in Cincinnati, Ohio. As he reached into the back of the minivan to retrieve tennis equipment, Kyle Plush became trapped between the vehicle’s third row of seats and its rear gate. According to reports, the seats flipped backward as the high school sophomore was kneeling on them, trapping him in the cargo well. Following the accident, Autoweek reported that Honda Odyssey seats have been the cause of multiple vehicle recalls in recent months. The model involved in Plush’s death, however, was not one of the recalled vehicles. A Boston defective products attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

Were Emergency Responders at Fault?

Plush’s tragic death has called into question the safety of the minivan and whether the seat was defective. The response of emergency responders is also being investigated. According to police reports, Plush called 911 by way of Siri on his smartphone. However, due to the distance between Plush and his phone, the young man was unable to hear the 911 responder asking for his location.

Five minutes after his 911 call, police arrived at Plush’s school—where the Odyssey was parked—but were unable to locate Plush or his vehicle. He was finally found, nearly six hours after his call for help, by his father. Sadly, he was pronounced dead at the scene. The coroner’s report listed asphyxia as the cause of death.

Following the incident, Cincinnati police have launched an investigation into Plush’s death. According to some reports, 911 responders may have failed to accurately relay information to the officers who searched for Plush in the moments following the call. Had they found him then, the 16-year-old may have survived.

800,000 Honda Odysseys Have Been Recalled

Between 2011 and 2017, approximately 800,000 Odysseys were recalled due to a defect in its second row seats. Apparently these seats could tilt forward if not properly latched. This defect caused a total of 46 minor injuries, but Plush was the first case involving a person being trapped in the Odyssey’s cargo well. Although Plush’s death was likely a freak accident, it may be indicative of a larger problem with Honda Odysseys, and many other recently-recalled automobiles. A MA defective products attorney can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

Besides posting videos about how to resolve the potential issue, Honda has yet to address its previous seating problems. And over the past few years, serious defects have plagued the auto insurance industry, with more than 70 million cars being recalled. One of the worst defects in recent history involved exploding Takata airbags, which contributed to at least 11 fatalities. Continue reading

According to a recent report from the Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA), serious injuries involving cyclists and pedestrians have seen a steady increase in recent years. Obviously, cycling (and walking) are healthy forms of exercise and good for the environment, but we need to increase awareness about the risks of cycling—especially on busy Boston streets—if we want to see these statistics reverse, and begin moving in a positive direction.

In Boston, as in other cities across the country, cyclist safety is a top priority of city planners. However, the rate at which this development is occurring is not keeping pace with the rise in the number of cyclists on the road. According to a Washington Post article, there has been an increase in bicycle accidents simply because there are more people cycling today than ever before. Today, bike share programs have added 42,000 bikes to our nation’s roads, and most of those are in congested cities, like Boston.

According to the GHSA, “pedestrians and cyclists are at an inherent disadvantage when involved in traffic crashes: when a faster moving vehicle meets a pedestrian or a bicycle, the vehicle always wins.”  The association recommends the installation of “more marked bike lanes, more clearly defined bike lanes that separate riders from cars, bike boxes at traffic signals . . . and traffic signals that provide an advanced green signal specifically designed for cyclists,” in cities across the country. A Boston injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured in a cycling accident.

Bicycle Accident Statistics

Bicycling can be a safe, healthy form of exercise, but it can also be deadly. By familiarizing yourself with the risks involved, and learning how to avoid them, you can dramatically reduce your chance of being injured or killed in a bicycle accident.

  • In 2015, 840 cyclists were killed in traffic collisions;
  • The average age of cycling fatality victims is 45;
  • More than 70 percent of all fatal cycling accidents occur on open roadways, not in intersections;
  • Approximately 50 percent of cyclists who were killed in traffic collisions were not wearing a helmet.
  • Distracted drivers were a factor in nearly 10 percent of all fatal bicycle-motor vehicle collisions;
  • Fatal bicycle accidents are evenly distributed across daylight and evening hours;
  • Alcohol was a factor in approximately 37 percent of all fatal cycling accidents.

A MA injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured in a cycling accident.

Follow these Tips to Avoid a Deadly Bicycle Accident

  • A bicycle should always be appropriately sized for the rider;
  • Always wear a helmet;
  • Follow the same traffic laws as motor vehicles;
  • Whenever possible, ride in residential areas rather than congested roadways;
  • Wear highly-visible, reflective gear when riding at night;
  • Ensure that your bike’s brakes are in good working order before riding;
  • Always maintain a safe distance from parked cars to prevent dooring;
  • Never assume that a motor vehicle driver sees you, ride defensively.

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Although all motor vehicle accidents can result in complicated, drawn out legal battles with regard to liability, few are more complex than those involving large trucks. Collisions with other passenger cars generally only involve two parties—the drivers. But liability in a large truck accident can involve a long list of parties, including both drivers, the trucking company, cargo company, parts manufacturer, and more. If you have been involved in a large trucking accident, the information below will help you determine how to move forward.

Trucking Accident Statistics

The statistics below shed some light on the frequency with which large truck accidents occur. Although they only account for about three percent of all motor vehicle accidents, large truck accidents have a significantly higher risk of being fatal.

  • There are about 500,000 large truck accidents every year.
  • Approximately 130,000 people are injured in collisions with large trucks each year.
  • Nearly 5,000 people are killed in large truck accidents annually.
  • Fatal trucking accidents cost more than $20 billion annually in the United States.
  • The average cost of a large truck accident is nearly $60,000.
  • Human error is a factor in nearly 90 percent of all large truck accidents.
  • Fatigue is a factor in about 30 percent of all large truck accidents.

When a trucking accident occurs, the chain of potentially-liable parties often argue over whose insurance company is responsible for compensating the victim. If, for example, the trucking company says that the cause of the accident was defective tires, the tire company can point the finger back at the trucking company, claiming that the tires should have been replaced months earlier. For this reason, and many others, it is essential to work with an experienced Boston trucking accident attorney if you wish to obtain the compensation you deserve.

Keeping a Distance

Trucking companies will try everything possible to avoid liability in an accident involving one of their trucks. Many companies lease the trucks and equipment from a third-party and use independent contractors as drivers, instead of employees. By distancing themselves from the driver and the vehicle, trucking companies are sometimes off the hook following an accident…but not always.

To avoid liability in an accident involving a leased truck or a driver who is an independent contractor, a trucking company may argue that it is not liable because:

  • The driver was not its employee;
  • It does not own the truck or any related equipment

In the past, this frequently worked. Due to stricter federal laws and regulations in recent years, however, companies that own a truck permit are potentially responsible for any accidents involving trucks leased to it. This is true even if the company is not the owner/operator and even if the driver is an independent contractor. Even so, bringing a lawsuit against a trucking company can be a complex process. This is where having an experienced MA trucking accident attorney can make all the difference in the world. Continue reading

The woman, a student at MSU, was 18 at the time of the alleged rape. She filed a lawsuit, claiming  that the men gang-raped her, and that the university’s counseling center discouraged her from coming forward with the allegations.

According to the lawsuit, the rape occurred a week after Michigan State lost to Duke in the 2015 Final Four. The woman, who is currently a student at MSU, says she was at an East Lansing bar when one of the three men bought her a drink. Shortly thereafter, she was invited to a party by one of the basketball players, who also claimed that her roommate would be there.

As soon as she arrived at the “party”, in an off-campus apartment, the woman realized her roommate wasn’t there and began “feeling discombobulated” and “thought she might have been drugged.” According to the lawsuit, one of the players threw her down on a bed and raped her, and the other two men soon began taking turns. A few hours later, she woke up and called a taxi. A Boston sexual assault attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been the victim of rape or any other type of sexual assault.

School Counselors Discouraged Victim From Reporting the Rape

The woman says she immediately reported the rape to MSU’s Counseling Center. Although the counseling staffer was initially supportive, “the counselor’s demeanor completely changed,” once the victim revealed that the three men involved were basketball players. Another staffer entered the conversation, informing the woman that reporting the rape may not be in her interest.

In response to the allegations about discouraging the plaintiff to come forward, staff at MSU’s counseling center said that “we have had many other students in the same situation who have reported, and it has been very traumatic for them.” The plaintiff also claims that staff said they had received several reports of cases involving “guys with big names” and that it would be in her best interest to “just get yourself better.” They also told her, “if you pursue this, you are going to be swimming with some really big fish.”

This is not the first time MSU has been pegged for a lack or transparency with regard to sexual assault cases. In fact, the school has been overseen by the Department of Education since 2014 due to mishandled sexual assault cases involving football and basketball players. A MA sexual assault lawyer can help you protect your rights if you’ve been the victim of rape or any other type of sexual assault.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) is an annual campaign that raises public awareness about sexual assault and how to prevent it, especially as it pertains to college campuses. According to statistics, one in five women are sexually assaulted while in college, and 43 percent of college women say they have experienced violent dating behaviors. And Massachusetts is no exception. In 2014, a total of 283 rapes at colleges were reported in MA, but only seven percent of those were ever reported to the schools. Continue reading

Now that backup cameras have been a common feature in new vehicles for several years, research is underway to determine whether they are actually saving lives. The Los Angeles Times recently reported that, “Despite the growing prevalence of backup cameras, federal data shows that this technology hasn’t significantly cut down on cars backing into people and causing them harm.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), between 2008 and 2011, the percentage of new cars with backup cameras installed spiked from 32 percent to 68 percent. During that same time period, back-over injuries only dropped less than eight percent, from 13,000 to 12,000. A Boston motor vehicle accident lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

Fatal back-over accidents, however, have decreased more significantly. The Los Angeles Times reported that, “The fatality rate has improved somewhat, dropping 31% over the same period.” Even so, back-over fatalities are actually quite rare. Deaths caused by a vehicle moving in reverse fell from 274 to 189 during the three-year period between 2008 and 2011. The article did not indicate how many of these accidents involved a backup camera, if any.

When you ask someone who uses a backup camera if they think it’s effective, most say “absolutely!”. There is no doubt that they can improve the driving—and parking—experience. Obviously, avoiding hitting another car, pedestrian, or bicyclist is the main goal of a backup camera, but they also help us avoid backing over a bicycle left in the driveway by one of our kids, or a dog that decides to run behind the car.

Backup Cameras Will Soon be a Requirement

As of May 2018, all new vehicles weighing at least 10,000 pounds will be required to have a backup camera. According to the NHTSA, these cameras can prevent serious injuries and deaths, especially among small children. Even though—according to Autotrader—only 200 people die in back-over accidents each year, at least 14,000 suffer injuries. Backup cameras can all but eliminate these accidents. A MA car accident attorney can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured by the negligence of another.

“Deaths from back-over crashes thankfully are pretty rare, but they still are tragic,” said the vice president of research at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), Jessica Cicchino. “We know that rear cameras can help, but they’re not a silver bullet.”

The Most Effective Vehicle Safety Features Available Today

Backup cameras aren’t the only vehicle safety feature reducing serious injuries and deaths. The following features are touted by the United Services Automobile Association (USAA) as being among the most effective.

  • Lane-keep assist
  • Electronic stability control
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Adaptive headlights
  • Collision warning system
  • Active park assist
  • Drowsiness alert
  • 360-degree camera

“The movement toward autonomous vehicles – self-driving cars – has brought high-tech safety features to today’s cars, too,” said USAA’s director of property and casualty loss prevention and safety programs, Jim Clifford. “Many of the groundbreaking advances in the area of car safety have come from these efforts.” Continue reading

According to a recently-released National Safety Council (NSC) report, the number of accidental deaths and injuries is at an “all-time high.” In fact, the rate of accidental deaths spiked more than 7 percent in 2015, accounting for an additional 146,571 lives lost that year. As a result, accidental deaths have become the fourth-leading cause of death in the United States. Only heart disease, cancer, and chronic lower respiratory disease take more lives.

According to the NSC’s Ken Kolosh, we shouldn’t refer to these deaths as accidental because “they’ve been proven over and over again to be 100 percent preventable.” By using terms like accidental or unintentional, we create the assumption that nothing can be done to prevent these injuries and fatalities. The reality is, when people follow certain safety precautions, the risk of accidental injury or death drops dramatically.

Over the past thirty years, U.S. deaths have actually dropped by nearly 20 percent, while “accidental” deaths have risen about 27 percent. To further emphasize the severity of this problem, consider the following calculation: if accidental deaths had followed the trend of overall deaths, nearly 60,000 lives would have been saved in 2015. A Boston injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

Why the Increase in Accidental Deaths?

According to the NSC, factors contributing to the increase in accidental deaths may include:

  • An increase in unintentional poisonings, fueled mostly by the nation’s opioid crisis (opioid overdoses are involved in 46 deaths every day in this country);
  • An unexplained rise in fall-related deaths;
  • Rise in deaths related to car crashes (nearly 38,000 deaths in 2015)—many experts believe distracted driving is to blame, but there are also simply more motor vehicles on the road than at any time in history.

The NSC predicts that the 2016 figures will be even higher—it estimates a six percent or greater increase (these figures won’t be released for at least several months).

How to Prevent Accidental Deaths

Accidental poisonings by way of opioid and other prescription drug overdoses can be avoided by discussing possible drug interactions with your doctor and ensuring that all medications are properly labeled and stored in your medicine chest. You should also:

  • Take medications exactly as prescribed;
  • When first taking a medication, report any problems to your physician immediately;
  • Never take another person’s painkillers’
  • Use a pill box to organize multiple medications;
  • Keep a diary of how much medication you are taking and when you take it.

Motor vehicle accident fatalities can be reduced by following the safety precautions below:

  • Never drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol;
  • Do not speed;
  • Always wear a seatbelt;
  • Avoid driving in inclement weather whenever possible;
  • Avoid driving late at night whenever possible;
  • Never text or talk on the phone while driving;
  • Make sure your vehicle is in good working order at all times;
  • Obey traffic rules.

Accidental deaths related to falls can be reduced by following the tips below:

  • Avoid getting excessively drunk;
  • If you need glasses, wear them;
  • Area rugs should have non-slip backing, and corners that stick up should be nailed down;
  • Place a rubber mat in your tub or shower;
  • Keep walkways well lit and clear of clutter and debris;
  • If using a ladder, make sure that it is in good repair and you know how to use it properly;
  • Avoid walking on icy sidewalks or wet floors;
  • If you have balance problems, use a walker or cane;
  • Maintain your health and physical fitness through regular exercise.

A MA injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured in any type of accident. Continue reading

Earlier this month, a pedestrian bridge collapsed at the Florida International University. Six people were killed and nine were injured. One of those injured—a cyclist—has filed the first lawsuit following this tragic accident.

According to the lawsuit, 24-year-old Marquise Rashaad Hepburn was cycling under the bridge when a large section of the bridge fell onto the roadway below. To avoid being crushed by the 174-foot span of concrete, a motor vehicle driver swerved, crashing into Hepburn. A Boston personal injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured by another’s negligence.

Hepburn’s lawsuit claims that the negligence of three companies contributed to the bridge collapse. It names the company responsible for designing and constructing the bridge, the company responsible for providing inspection services, and the company responsible for reviewing the bridge’s design.

Tests Were Being Performed at Time of Collapse

The brand-new pedestrian bridge wasn’t even officially open when the collapse occurred. All of the victims were on the roadway below. Inspectors had noticed some cracking a few days earlier, but said the cracks were not a safety issue. According to the complaint, stress tests of the bridge were being conducted on the morning of the collapse. Workers adjusted the bridge’s tension rods, a delicate process which can become problematic if a rod is over-tightened or made too loose.

Had traffic been re-routed during these tests, the injuries and fatalities could have been avoided. Further, a March 13 voicemail left by the bridge project’s lead engineer for an official of the Florida Department of Transportation, reveals the engineer’s comments about visible cracks in the bridge. According to the lawsuit, the engineer didn’t seem overly concerned with the cracks.

In addition to the pending civil lawsuit, the Miami-Dade Police Department is launching a criminal investigation into the matter.

What Causes a Bridge to Collapse?

Bridge failure can occur for myriad reasons. Some of the most common include:

  • Design defects
  • Improper construction materials
  • Inadequate maintenance
  • Inadequate inspections

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