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Articles

How Do You Choose A Lawyer?

How Do You Choose A Lawyer?

“CAR WRECKS AND COMP CASES”

Jim Hasser
HasserLawFirm
JimHasserLaw.com
Jim@JimHasserLaw.com
O: 251.343.5081
C: 251.654.1624



Why “Free Consultations” Or “Personally Returned Phone Calls” Should Not Be A Selling Point When Choosing Your Lawyer

Most personal injury lawyers offer free consultations and personally return calls. I do too. I have to to figure out if you have a case worth taking. The only way to do that is to talk to you! Below are the real questions you should be asking yourself when looking for a lawyer which I have answered in my book on accident law:
1. “Do I even need a lawyer for my case?”
2. “What kind of lawyer is best for my case?”
3. “How do I choose a lawyer?”
4. “How does the attorney relationship work?”
 

“Do I even need a lawyer for my case?”


Before you deal with a lawyer or an insurance company, you should get a copy of my book on accidents and read it. Just email me at jehjrpc@gmail.com and I’ll be glad to email it to you.
In most cases, people don’t need a lawyer for their car wreck case. They can handle it on their own. The wreck stats kept by the State show that most wrecks are “fender benders” where there is little or no property damage or injuries.
Where there is little or no injury, you really don’t need a lawyer. I usually don’t accept cases where there’s little or no property damage and there are no injuries or the injuries are minor; minor meaning no permanent injury and medical bills under $10,000. The reason I don’t is because I might win, but you might lose. My fees and costs would probably eat up the recovery so that you would get little or nothing out of the deal. That doesn’t fly with me and I know it wouldn’t with you. In those instances, I like to simply give the client enough information to help them handle the case themselves.
In a fender bender case, you need to get two estimates on your car and negotiate with the insurance company for payment. You are entitled to the cost of repair, towing, storage, and a rental. You are also entitled to the loss in value simply because it’s been wrecked. (Of course, if it’s totaled, you’re entitled to the value of the vehicle, but that wouldn’t be a fender bender, would it?)
You would be entitled to something for your injuries, but be aware that your medical insurance company, your car insurance company or Medicaid or Medicare, (whoever paid your medical bills) will have to be paid back. In a run of the mill wreck where the other driver was simply careless (no extreme circumstances such as drunk driving), and you have minor injuries (no broken bones; just soft tissue injuries that heal up quick), you would be entitled to reimbursement of medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages, (if the Drs held you from work).
Now, on the other hand, if the wreck was more severe and your injuries are more serious, you probably should consult a lawyer. Not all cases are the same, so if there is any doubt, consult a lawyer. Like I said, most, if not all, won’t charge you simply to see if you have a case worth taking.


“What kind of lawyer is best for my case?”

How do you find out who’s the best lawyer for you? First, you must spend some time and ask yourself some questions. Personal injury, accident and compensation claims are too specialized for a lawyer who does not regularly handle these kinds of cases.
I can’t tell you the number of cases I’ve looked at that were completely screwed up because an inexperienced lawyer tried to handle it. Usually, there’s so much water under the bridge that I won’t handle it.
The insurance companies know who the attorneys are who handle these kinds of cases and who will actually go into court to try cases and those who do not. The insurance companies use that information to evaluate their risk. For instance, by mistake, in a brain damage 18 wheeler case, we happened to get the other attorney’s assessment report to the insurance company. It cautioned its client that I had had several multi-million dollar verdicts and that I have a network of other such successful lawyers that are known to team up with me on occasion to achieve significant verdicts. If knowing this info is important to the insurance company, shouldn’t it be important to you?
If you are represented by a lawyer who has never tried a serious case or who only settles them, you may not be in the best of hands. I believe it is so important that you get into the right hands that I will give you the names and telephone numbers of other good lawyers in our area who you should call if you don’t become my client. Why would I give you the names of my competition? Because I believe we are all on the same side against the insurance companies and they are good lawyers who will do you a good job.
 

Free Books On Accident and Comp Law!

Before you deal with the insurance company or call a lawyer on your personal injury case in Alabama, you need to read this book. It’s entirely free. Just email me at jehjrpc@gmail.com and I’ll send it directly to you.
Other books I’ve written are for free too. They are:
“Five Ways to Shoot Yourself in the Foot in Your Alabama Worker’s Compensation Case”, “Five Ways Shoot Yourself in the Foot in Your Longshore and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Case”, and “How to Buy Car Insurance in Alabama”. Again, these are entirely free. Just email me at jehjrpc@gmail.com and I’ll send it directly to you.

“How do I choose a lawyer?”


“How does the attorney relationship work?”

Space will not permit me to address these two questions here, but simply click on the questions above and you will link to my website, where these questions are answered. Or, you can simply go to JimHasserLaw.com or email me for free copies of my books on Alabama accident and comp law, Longshore law, and how to buy car insurance in Alabama. Until next month, stay safe and God bless.
 
 

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How Do I Know If I Need A Lawyer For My Accident Case In Alabama?

How do I know if I need a lawyer for my case? Go to JimHasserLaw.com or go to the  video.

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Find out what kind of lawyer is best for your case. Go to JimHasserLaw.com

Find out what kind of lawyer is best for your case. Go to JimHasserLaw.com 

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What if I was partly at fault in causing the accident in Alabama?

Go to

http://hasserlawfirm.com/index_Page1017.htm


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How Do I Know If I Need A Lawyer For My Accident Case? How Do I Buy Car Insurance In Alabama? Do I Need A Lawyer For My Alabama Comp Case? How Long Do I Have To Be Off Work To Get Alabama Comp Benefits?

Archive for June, 2011

How Do I Know If I Need A Lawyer For My Accident Case? How Do I Buy Car Insurance In Alabama? Do I Need A Lawyer For My Alabama Comp Case? How Long Do I Have To Be Off Work To Get Alabama Comp Benefits?

JimHasserLaw Newsletter

“Car Wrecks and Comp Cases “

Serious injury and death cases

Alabama Personal Injury newsletter

Jim Hasser

Hasser Law Firm

HasserLawFirm.com

jehjrpc@gmail.com

O: 251.343.5081

C: 251.654.1624

How Do I Know If I Need A Lawyer For My Accident Case? 

This is the #1 question I get all the time: “Do I Have A Case?” And the answer is it depends on the facts and circumstances of your case. Every case, and I will repeat, every case, differs, no matter how similar they seem on the surface.

 

Now, that being said, I’ll try and give an answer by first addressing what the real question should be. The real question should be, “Do I Have A Case Good Enough For A Lawyer To Take On A Contingency Basis Where He/She Only Gets Paid If We Win?” Anybody can have a claim. But is it good enough for the lawyer to take with an agreement with the client that he won’t get paid if he loses?

 

Abraham Lincoln once said that a lawyer’s time is his stock and trade. When you ask a lawyer to take on your case on a percentage basis, you’re asking him to take on a real risk by spending his time and after tax dollars on a claim that has a worth that is probably too soon to predict because you probably haven’t healed up from your injuries.

 

So, how does a lawyer figure out whether it’s worth taking in Alabama? Well, I can’t speak for other lawyers, but here’s how I evaluate a case in a nutshell. Every good case has these 3 elements: 1. Liability, 2. Damages and 3. Collectability.

 

First, the other guy must clearly be at fault and you can’t contribute to the accident or assume any risk. Second, you must be hurt really bad with serious permanent injuries and a good bit of medical bills. Finally, there must be some way to collect on your claim. Typically, there must be insurance (a topic for another article) or the Defendant must have enough money to pay. You can get a gagillion dollar judgment, but it’s not worth a dime if you can’t collect on it. If nobody has insurance, you may have a claim, but a lawyer is not likely to take it on a percentage basis.

 

If you don’t have all 3 of these, you don’t have a case. The absence of any one of these 3 requirements is a deal killer. OK, so there you have it in a nutshell. The next time you, or anyone you know asks the question, “Do I Have A Case?”, you’ll have the answer.

Jim Hasser

Hasser Law Firm

HasserLawFirm.com

jehjrpc@gmail.com

O: 251.343.5081

C: 251.654.1624

How Do I Buy Car Insurance In Alabama?

 

You get that terrible phone call – someone you love has been seriously injured in a car wreck.  They’ve been hit head on by a drunk driver.

 

You go to the hospital and find them in an induced coma and with brain damage and broken bones. After a long and intense stay, they eventually come out of the coma and are transferred to a rehabilitation center to re-learn basic skills lost. They will never be able to work again. The bills are astronomical. The hospital bill alone is well over $100,000.

 

So you say to yourself, “everyone has to have insurance in the state. The drunk driver’s insurance will cover it, right?” WRONG! Oh, but you were “fully insured”. Your insurance will cover it, right? WRONG AGAIN!

 

This is a nightmare scenario that unfortunately some of my clients have to face. Even though all drivers are required to carry insurance in Alabama, there is no policing mechanism to enforce it. It’s only after the fact that it’s discovered. You can’t count on the other driver to have insurance. You have to protect yourself. Remember this: you are more likely to be hurt or killed by an uninsured or underinsured motorist than any other. Think about it. It only makes sense. They are the most irresponsible drivers on the road.

 

“Ok, so what do I do?”, you ask. Get my book on “How to buy Car Insurance in Alabama”. You can order on Amazon or I’ll email it to you for free. But the bottom line is this: Get as much liability and uninsured motorist coverage as you can afford.

 

Liability covers you if you’re at fault. It’s more expensive than uninsured motorist coverage. But uninsured motorist covers you if you’re hurt due to the fault of not only an uninsured driver, but also an “underinsured” driver (one with not enough insurance to cover the damage done). It’s cheap; real cheap. Load up on it. Protect you and your family!

“Get as much … uninsured motorist coverage as you can afford.”

Jim Hasser

Hasser Law Firm

HasserLawFirm.com

jehjrpc@gmail.com

O: 251.343.5081

C: 251.654.1624

Do I Need a Lawyer for My Alabama Comp Case?

You may not need a lawyer for your Alabama comp case! Yep, I said it. If you have an injury that will not result in any permanent restrictions that keep you from returning to work, the odds go up that you probably won’t need a lawyer.

Let’s say you have an injury to a body part other than your head, spine or shoulders. If the Dr. cuts you loose to return to regular duty without any restrictions, you probably don’t need a lawyer, even if the Dr. also gave you a disability rating.  If the Dr. didn’t give you a rating, you won’t be entitled to any permanent disability benefits, but if he did, you will. In either case you are entitled to continued medical benefits related to your injury for life.

So, let’s say that the Dr. gave you a rating and sent you back to work. What are you entitled to? The Comp Act has a list of body parts, each of which is assigned a specific number of weeks for the total loss of that part. You find that list online at http://alisondb.legislature.state.al.us/acas/CodeOfAlabama/1975/25-5-57.htm

If you have a disability rating, you take your % disability rating times the number of weeks allowable for the total loss of the disabled body part and that gives you the number of weeks you are entitled to get your permanent disability for. Sometimes the Employer will pay you in a lump; sometimes they won’t. It’s up to them. There’s no mechanism in the law that forces them to pay you all at once, but most do.

Now, let’s say you have an injury and the company won’t pay you. I and a lot of other lawyers normally won’t take a case unless it has been accepted as a legitimate one by the Employer. What can you do? You can call the Dept. of Industrial Relations and ask for an “ombudsman” for free help. Their number is (800) 528-5166.

If you have an injury (whether on the schedules or not) that results in a permanent set of physical restrictions that keep you from returning to work, you really should talk to a lawyer. Even with a scheduled injury, it doesn’t hurt to at least run it by a lawyer. In most situations where you have a head, spine or shoulder injury (or psychological), and you have restrictions that keep you from returning to work, a lawyer experienced in comp law will probably be of benefit to you.

Before you talk to an adjuster or lawyer, I recommend you get my book on Alabama Comp Law, “How to Shoot Yourself in the Foot in Your Alabama Comp Case”. You can buy it on Amazon or you can  email me at jehjrpc@gmail.com and ask me for a free copy of it and I’ll email it directly to you!

“If you have an injury that will not result in any permanent restrictions that keep you from returning to work, the odds go up that you probably won’t need a lawyer.” 

 

Before you deal with the insurance company or call a lawyer on your personal injury case in Alabama, you need to read this book. It’s entirely free. Just email me at jehjrpc@gmail.com and I’ll send it directly to you.

Other books I’ve written are for free too. They are:

“Five Ways to Shoot Yourself in the Foot in Your Alabama Worker’s Compensation Case”, “Five Ways Shoot Yourself in the Foot in Your Longshore and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Case”, and “How to Buy Car Insurance in Alabama”. Again, these are entirely free. Just email me at jehjrpc@gmail.com and I’ll send it directly to you.

How Long Do I Have to Be Off Work to Be Entitled to Alabama Comp Benefits?

The Dr. has to have you off work for more than 3 days to be entitled to Alabama Comp benefits. If he has you off for more than 3 days, your benefits will be due from the 4th day forward. You will not be entitled to those first 3 days unless the Dr. has you off for more than 21 days (3 weeks), in which case you get those first 3 days and are entitled to be paid from the first day you were hurt.

“The Dr. has to have you off work for more than 3 days to be entitled to Alabama Comp benefits.

Jim Hasser

Hasser Law Firm

HasserLawFirm.com

jehjrpc@gmail.com

O: 251.343.5081

C: 251.654.1624


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1 Comment

Why To Contact a Lawyer in Alabama When There’s an Accident and Someone Is Likely to Die/What is PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder? Do I Need a Lawyer for My Longshore Comp Case?

Why Is It Important To Talk To A Lawyer Right Away After An Accident Where Someone Might Die?

Under Alabama law, you get punitive, or, punishment damages simply for the taking of another life. These punishment damages do not include medical expenses, loss of income or support, pain and suffering or loss of companionship as do laws in other states.  The damages are to punish the wrongdoer for the careless taking of another human life and are meant be a red flag to keep others from doing the same thing to other people.

So, you ask, “why is it so important to call a lawyer if someone might die from their injuries?” Beside the fact that evidence needs to be gathered while it is fresh, the answer is, simply, if suit is filed before death, more damages are available. “What are those damages?” You can get damages for pre-death pain and suffering, loss of love, support and companionship and medical and other expenses in addition to the punishment damages. These kind of damages can be quite substantial.

Now you know why it is so important to contact a lawyer immediately after a life threatening accident where there is a possibility that someone could die. 

What is PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?

 

You’ve been in a sudden, violent, unexpected, life threatening car or job accident. You’re physically hurt somewhat, but you’re ok….you think…You have trouble sleeping, reoccurring nightmares, trouble getting along with the ones you love. You’re edgy, irritable, angry, depressed, and you sometimes have this overwhelming fear of something you can’t quite explain….it’s not only affecting your personal life, but somehow, it’s creeped into your job performance….. You may have PTSD (short for post “traumatic stress disorder”), and/or even brain damage!

 

This happens in probably 2-5% of accident victims. PTSD can be quite disabling if not quickly and properly diagnosed and treated. PTSD is another name for “shell shock”, a term psychologists coined after finding numerous military men coming back from WWII in terrible mental states. A lot of vets and other people refuse to seek psychological help for fear it shows a sign of weakness. It’s an actually quite normal reaction to facing a life threatening situation and nothing to be embarrassed about.

 

In a nutshell, PTSD, is the fear of death or dying. It is the shock of directly staring the Grim Reaper in the eyes and facing your own mortality. Coming to grips and coping with  this simple, yet complex, fear  is the cure…. Easier said than done, though. Every case is different and needs to be quickly and properly diagnosed by a qualified psychologist or psychiatrist trained to recognize such disorders and treat them. If untreated, PTSD can result in severe, permanent psychological disorders that can have disastrous consequences.

 

Do I Need a Lawyer for My Longshore Comp Case?

 

You may not need a lawyer for your Longshore comp case! Yep, I said it. If you have an injury that will not result in any permanent restrictions that keep you from returning to work, the odds go up that you probably won’t need a lawyer.

Let’s say you have an injury to a body part other than your head, spine or shoulders. If the Dr. cuts you loose to return to regular duty without any restrictions, you probably don’t need a lawyer, even if the Dr. also gave you a disability rating.  If the Dr. didn’t give you a rating, you won’t be entitled to any permanent disability benefits, but if he did, you will. In either case you are entitled to continued medical benefits related to your injury for life.

So, let’s say that the Dr. gave you a rating and sent you back to work. What are you entitled to? The Longshore Act has a list of body parts, each of which is assigned a specific number of weeks for the total loss of that part. If you have a disability rating, you take your % disability rating times the number of weeks allowable for the total loss of that part and that gives you the number of weeks you are entitled to get your comp for for payment for the permanency of the injury. Sometimes the Employer will pay you in a lump; sometimes they won’t.

Now, sometimes the Employer does not pay you at the correct comp rate. Routinely, the folks at FARA working the Northrop Grumman claims will not use the right comp rate. You may need a lawyer for that. It won’t hurt to run your case by one.

If you have an injury (whether on the schedules or not) that results in a permanent set of physical restrictions that keep you from returning to work, you need to talk to a lawyer. In some circumstances where you have a scheduled injury, they may not be able to help with the Longshore law, but they may have advice for you in other areas of the law, such as with the Americans with Disabilities Act or Social Security Disability. In most situations where you have a head, spine or shoulder injury (or psychological), and you have restrictions that keep you from returning to work, a lawyer experienced in Longshore law will probably be of benefit to you.

Before you talk to an adjuster or lawyer, I recommend you get my book on Longshore law, “How to Shoot Yourself in the Foot in Your Longshore Comp Case”. It’s for free! Just email me at jehjrpc@gmail.com and ask me for a copy of it and I’ll email it directly to you!

If this fits the bill for you or a loved one, tell your treating physician your symptoms and ask for a referral to a psychologist or psychiatrist familiar with the diagnosis and treatment of this condition. And for sure, if you have a lawyer, tell him or her. 

Before you deal with the insurance company or call a lawyer on your personal injury case in Alabama, you need to read this book. It’s entirely free. Just email me at jehjrpc@gmail.com and I’ll send it directly to you.

Other books I’ve written are for free too. They are:

“Five Ways to Shoot Yourself in the Foot in Your Alabama Worker’s Compensation Case”, “Five Ways Shoot Yourself in the Foot in Your Longshore and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Case”, and “How to Buy Car Insurance in Alabama”. Again, these are entirely free. Just email me at jehjrpc@gmail.com and I’ll send it directly to you. 

How Long Do I Have to Be Off Work to Be Entitled to Longshore Comp Benefits?


The Dr. has to have you off work for more than 3 days to be entitled to Longshore Comp benefits. If he has you off for more than 3 days, your benefits will be due from the 4th day forward. You will not be entitled to those first 3 days unless the Dr. has you off for more than 14 days (2 weeks), in which case you get those first 3 days and are entitled to be paid from the first day you were hurt.



Longshore and Harborworkers Compensation Death Benefits by Jim Hasser

 

If a worker is killed on the job or a work injury causes death, the Longshore Comp law allows for death benefits. The employer is obligated to pay up to $3000 in funeral expenses.

If the worker has no children but does have a widow, the widow gets half of the average weekly wage (AWW) of the worker. If there are children, then each one gets 16 2/3 % of the AWW. The law sets the minimum AWW as that of the national AWW.

If the widow remarries, she gets 2 years of comp in a lump sum on remarriage. If remarriage occurs and there is one child, that child’s portion gets increased to 50% of the AWW. If there is more than one child then each child shares the 50% equally plus each one gets 16 2/3%. However, the total payments cannot exceed 66 2/3% of the AWW.

If the deceased worker that leaves no spouse or children or if the total amount paid is less than 66 2/3% of the AWW, and the worker has dependent grandchildren or brothers and sisters, then each gets 20% of the AWW up to 66 2/3% of the AWW. Dependent parents and grandparents get 25%, subject to the same limitations.

Aliens are entitled to the same amounts as residents, but dependents in a foreign country are limited to wives and children. If there is no wife or child, then the dependent parents can get benefits. However, the insurance company can ask, and the Secretary of Labor has the authority to reduce the payments to half of the commuted amount of future payments.

It is highly recommended that you seek the advice of a lawyer in any death case.

For more information, go to JimHasserLaw.com, email Jim@JimHasserLaw.com or call 251.343.5081.

What Are the Jurisdictional Limits of the State Civil Trial Courts in Alabama? by Jim Hasser

scales-justice

 

Civil cases involve disputes over money and property. There are 3 levels of civil trial courts in Alabama. Starting at the bottom is Small Claims Court. It’s like People’s Court. There’s no jury; just the judge. Where you are fighting over $3000 or less, you are in this court. Small Claims is part of the State District Court System. The folks that work in Small Claims are very helpful and can guide you to filing your own claim. They have all kinds of free information to help guide you through your case from filing to judgment. Most people do not get lawyers for Small Claims, but you can if you want.

 

The next level up is District Court. Again, it’s sort of like People’s Court. There’s no jury; just a judge. To be in this Court, you have to be fighting for over $3000, but less than $10,000. Again, the District Court personnel are very friendly and helpful. If you want to handle the case yourself, they can be of great assistance in guiding you through the procedures. Again, as with Small Claims Court, a lot of people do not have lawyers and handle the claims themselves. However, as with Small Claims Court, you can get a lawyer if you want.

 

The highest trial court up is Circuit Court. It handles claims where the disputed amount is $10,000 or more. There is no limit on the amount of money you can be awarded at this level. You get a jury in this court, although you don’t have to. You can have the judge try it without a jury. The person first filing the claim has the choice to ask for a jury or not. It is highly advisable to get a lawyer at this level, or, at a very minimum, to consult with one before trying to navigate the tumultuous landscape of procedures. It is very annoying to judges and other lawyers for a lay person to represent himself. Typically, people trying to handle their own cases have them kicked out of court for failing to follow proper procedures.

For more info, go to JimHasserLaw.com, email Jim@JimHasserLaw.com or call 251.343.5081.

Who Is Not Covered By the Alabama Workers Compensation Act?

Who Is Not Covered By the Alabama Workers Compensation Act?

In previous articles I’ve written about who is covered by the Alabama Workers Compensation Act. This article is about who is not covered by the Act. The Act does not apply to 1. Housekeepers and maids, 2. Farm-hands, 3. Casual employees doing work not in the usual course of business of the employer, 4. Employers who regularly employ less than 5 employees (other than employees of new single family construction companies), and 5. Municipalities with less than 2000 people.

Again, employers of these types of employees (not the employees) can elect to come within coverage by letting the Dept of Industrial Relations know and then posting notice of coverage at their place of business. If the employer withdraws its election to be covered, it likewise has to post notice of its withdrawal at its place of business in a conspicuous place to let all people applying for jobs know that there is no coverage.

For more info, go to JimHasserLaw.com, email Jim@JimHasserLaw.com or call 251.343.5081.

Are Officers Of A Corporation Covered Employees Under Alabama Comp Law? by Jim Hasser

Are Officers Of A Corporation Covered Employees Under Alabama Comp Law?

by Jim Hasser

Alabama comp law covers every person in the service of another under any contract of hire, express or implied, oral or written, including aliens and also including minors who are legally permitted to work. That includes officers of a corporation.

There is an opt out provision under the law where officers can file paperwork opting out of coverage by the Comp Act by filing written certification of the election with the Department of Industrial Relations and with the employer’s insurance carrier. A lot of worker’s comp insurance policies exempt officers and directors from coverage, so the law allows them to opt out of the Act annually. When there’s a policy that does that, the carrier requires the officers to opt out as a condition of coverage and they usually take care of the opt out election paperwork and filings.

Why would you want to opt out of coverage if you’re an officer or director, you ask? Well, the short answer is to save money. Worker’s Comp insurance premiums are figured as a percentage of wages and salaries. Usually the officers and directors make a whole lot more than the hourly wage earners and they usually have disability policies and so forth which pay them more money than comp pays if they get hurt.

If there’s any question about whether the officer has opted out, you can check with the Department of Industrial Relations Opt Out Division. Just give them the legal name of the employer and the fin# (tax id #) and they can tell you whether the officer has opted out.

 

For more info, go to JimHasserLaw.com, email jehjrpc@gmail.com or call 251.343.5081.

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