AUSTIN TRUCK ACCIDENT LAWYER

Award Winning Truck Accident Lawyers With More Than 30 Years of Experience

A boutique law firm specializing in commercial and trucking accidents

My name is Steven Lee, and I am an Austin Truck Accident Lawyer.  Unlike larger law firms, you will not be lost in the shuffle when working with my law firm. We are a small law firm specializing in commercial truck accidents. 

We are based right here in Austin, and you will receive VIP treatment from my team.  We have won thousands of cases for clients ranging from $100,000 to $7,500,000.

If you have been in a commercial vehicle or trucking accident, time is critical.  The trucking companies are already working against you.  Call me right now, and let’s get started today.  

– Steven C. Lee

ABOUT TRUCK ACCIDENT LAWYER STEVEN LEE

Steven Lee - Austin Truck Accident Lawyer
Steven Lee - Austin Truck Accident Attorney

Experienced

For more than 30 years, Steven Lee has been helping people in need. Steve is a graduate of The University Of Texas at Austin School of Law, where he earned a Doctorate of Jurisprudence. After graduating he worked for several boutique law firms specializing in Personal Injury and Criminal Defense. In 1995 Steve started Steven C. Lee & Associates in Austin, Texas. He has been fighting for his clients’ rights and due justice ever since. As of 2015, Steve has become recognized as one of the Top 100 Trial Lawyers in the nation and specializes in truck accidents.

Dedicated

Steven Lee is licensed to practice throughout the State of Texas, the United States Federal Court for the Western District, and the United States Supreme Court. He also believes in giving back to the community. Steve is a board member of The Care Communities, an organization committed to providing care and comfort to those facing life threatening illnesses. He and his office have also adopted a portion of Bouldin Creek through Keep Austin Beautiful (KAB).

Proven Results

As an Austin truck accident lawyer, Steven C. Lee has handled hundreds of cases through settlement and trial. In doing so he has recovered many millions of dollars for his clients, including $7,500,000 for the victim of a trucking accident in 2016. His hard work and success in the courtroom have earned him a spot in the prestigious Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum. He is also a member of The National Top 100 Trial Lawyers, the Capital Area Trial Lawyers Association, and the Texas Trial Lawyers Association.

Helpful Tips for Austin Truck Accident Victims

THE TRUTH ABOUT AUSTIN TRUCK ACCIDENTS

Texas highways are home to thousands of commercial trucks and 18 wheelers. When they cause accidents, it is almost always due to negligence. Our local Austin truck accident lawyers can prove it.

LEARN THE FACTS

Truck drivers and companies must follow strict state and federal guidelines. When they don't, severe injuries and even deaths are often the result. Our team has the experience and the know-how to review the facts of your case and find evidence of negligence. Reserve your free case review now.

HIRE GOOD LAWYERS

People are often hesitant to hire lawyers, because they think it will cost a lot of money. At Steven C. Lee & Associates, we don't charge any out of pocket fees. We have decades of experience winning cases against trucking companies, and only charge fees when we've won your case.

FOCUS ON RECOVERY

The most important thing you can be doing after a trucking accident is recovering - both physically and emotionally. When you hire our experienced truck accident lawyers, we take the burden of filing paperwork and fighting with the insurance companies off of your back.

RECEIVE COMPENSATION

If you or a loved one has suffered injuries or loss of life due to the negligence or errors of a commercial trucker or trucking company, you are entitled to compensation. How much you get depends on the circumstances of the case, as well as the experience of the attorneys you hire.

The commercial trucking companies always try to turn the process into a marathon in order to grind people down and wear them out. My law firm is here to make sure that doesn't happen.

Steven Lee, Austin Truck Accident Attorney

PROVING NEGLIGENCE

Trucking companies have many types of regulations to follow, such as hiring, training, drug testing, inspections, maintenance, drivers’ hours, and record keeping. All that it takes to prove negligence is showing that the trucking company or driver was violating at least one of them when your accident took place.

TRUCK ACCIDENT FACTORS

Negligence That Leads To Accidents

Trucking companies and their insurance providers typically have damage control personnel who are trained to respond to accidents. In many cases an insurance adjuster will ask that you give a recorded statement about the accident and your injuries. In too many cases, truck accident victims unintentionally hurt their claims by making assumptions or incorrect statements about how the accident occurred, or even by downplaying their injuries.

FAILURE TO MEET REGULATIONS

State & Federal Regulations Matter

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires drivers to rest at least 10 hours between shifts. Drivers aren’t permitted to drive more than 60 hours per week, or more than 11 hours in one day, or to work more than 14 hours in a 24 hour period. Drivers must be physically examined regularly, must pass drug tests, and must submit logs on each trip. If they broke any of these rules, we’ll find out.

HOW AN ATTORNEY CAN HELP

What We Can Do For You

Our legal team can inspect and preserve evidence at the crash scene, measure skid marks and evaluate the damage to the vehicles, obtain witness statements, examine the elog that records speed and other vital details about the driver’s actions, examine the driver’s GPS system, obtain and review the records of inspections, take photographs of the scene and of the vehicles involved, plus more. All without upfront fees.

We need to move quick in order to preserve evidence from the scene. Don't delay, call today!

What People Say About Us

Reviews & Testimonials

5/5

"You can't win against massive commercial trucks on the roads, but when you hire our experienced truck accident lawyers, you can win in court."

HOW TO HANDLE A TRUCK ACCIDENT IN AUSTIN

It is vital that you call Steven C. Lee, an experienced Austin Truck Accident Lawyer, following a truck accident. Time is of the essence when building a strong case. We are fully prepared to take immediate action to represent you in your personal injury claim.

DON'T RUSH TO GIVE A STATEMENT

Do not give a statement to anyone other than law enforcement officials without talking to an attorney first. Insurance adjusters only ask you questions to find out how little they can pay you, not how much. Let us talk to them for you.

HAVE THE FACTS INVESTIGATED

It's not always obvious when a truck accident is the fault of the trucking company or driver. Only by reviewing the facts and evidence can you know for sure. That's exactly what we do on every truck accident case our firm takes.

CHOOSE THE RIGHT LAWYERS

Your truck accident lawyers should be knowledgeable about state and federal regulations that govern trucking operations. They should also have a team of experts who can review and reconstruct the scene. Experience is key.

RECOVER FROM THE TRUCK ACCIDENT

Truck accidents are emotionally, financially, and physically stressful ordeals. Moving on with your life & healing should be your number one concern. Securing for you the highest degree of justice and compensation will be ours.

WHY CHOOSE STEVEN C. LEE AS YOUR AUSTIN TRUCK ACCIDENT ATTORNEY?

For 30 years, Austinites have turned to one personal injury firm to secure them maximum compensation for their commercial truck accident claims. That law firm is Steven C. Lee and Associates. We have the experience, focus, and dedication to hold the responsible parties accountable for their negligence.

COMMON CAUSES OF AUSTIN TRUCK ACCIDENTS

The leading cause of truck accidents in Austin and surrounding areas is negligence.  Negligence is a legal term that describes the failure to use reasonable care, resulting in damage or injury to another.  Here are a few of the more common forms of negligence that lead to trucking accidents including those of delivery vehicles.

Speeding:  Large trucks are difficult to maneuver quickly including stopping.  Failure to maintain safe speeds often leads to a loss of control or an inability to stop safely.

Fatigued Driver:  Truck drivers are required by federal law to only drive a certain number of hours per week.  As the enforcement of these regulations is difficult to police, trucking companies often push drivers for more hours on the road with unrealistic schedules.  Tired, exhausted drivers are not as responsive as they need to be behind the wheel of a large truck.

Improperly Maintained Trucks/Trailers:  Truck accidents are not always caused by drivers.  Sometimes there are equipment malfunctions that lead to truck accidents.  Such equipment failures can involve braking systems, steering issues, tire blowout, engine failure, trailer brake lights, and load balance.

Distracted Driving: Distractions while driving are quickly growing as one of the leading causes of truck accidents as well as delivery vehicle accidents.  Distracted driving usually is caused by drivers paying more attention to their phones than the road.

Drunk Driving:  Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol can be a contributing factor in truck accidents.  

Insufficient Driver Training:  Drivers are required to have a Commercial Drivers License (CDL) and demonstrate the ability to operate trucks in a safe and professional manner.  But not all drivers have their CDL, and not all drivers have the appropriate training to drive professionally.

Third Party Interference:  In some cases a third party can cause an accident.  For example, a sports car cuts-off a large truck with no room to spare leading to a multi-vehicle collision.  In such cases, there may be multiple parties responsible for your accident, and they all may owe you compensation.

Bad Weather:  Weather can also have an impact on truck accidents here in Austin due to high winds, water on roads, icy bridge conditions, and heavy rain.  Even hotter weather in the Texas summer can lead to blowouts on truck tires due to excessive road temperatures on worn tires.

HOW ARE DAMAGES CALCULATED?

Truck accidents can be very serious with very serious consequences including death.  The injuries sustained by victims of a trucking accident can take months or years to recover from — if at all.  Some of the more common and costly injuries include:

  • Spinal & Neck Injuries
  • Back & Rib Issues
  • Broken Bones & Dental Injuries
  • Internal Organ Injuries
  • Cuts and Lacerations
  • Loss of Limbs (Amputations)
  • Paralysis
  • Brain Injuries

The impact of a truck accidents does not stop at with physical injuries.  The cost of a truck accident can also have a tremendous impact on your ability to work and earn an income.  You also need to be compensated for the following damages should they apply:

  • Medical Bills – Medical expenses stemming from a truck accident can be very costly and can often create a huge financial burden for victims.
  • Pain and Suffering – Pain and suffering is the legal term for the physical and emotional stress caused from an injury. Some damages that might come under this category would be: aches, temporary and permanent limitations on activity, potential shortening of life, depression, disfigurement or scarring.
  • Lost Wages and Income – Truck accidents can often cause people to miss work while they recover from injuries which creates stress and financial burdens.
  • Disability – A disability is a physical or mental condition that limits a person’s movements, senses, or activities.  As truck accidents can be quite severe, permanent disability can occur leading to a complete loss of lifestyle and employment.
  • Reduced Earning Capacity – Should an injury be severe enough, a truck accident victim may experience a reduced earning capacity due to physical or emotional issue.

The amount you may be awarded is calculated by adding up the value of your medical bills, lost wages, and other financial losses related to the truck accident.  The severity of your injuries and the long-term impact of those injuries are factored in to the overall damages you may win.   

Pain and suffering is also included in the calculation of your damages.  Pain and suffering is usually computed by multiplying the amount of your medical bills by a factor between 1 and 5; a higher multiplier representing a longer-term impact of the accident on your well being.

But, also included in the calculation is your liability and exact involvement in the accident.  Should you be negligent or a cause of the accident, your damages may be effected.  

Beware.  The insurance companies will try to take advantage of you.  The responsibility of insurance companies is to their shareholders.  Not you.  Insurance agents will try to low ball you on settlement offers because they are paid to keep payouts low. Insurance companies know that the process is complicated, and they will use the process against you.

Given the complex nature of calculating damages, it is critical that you speak with a qualified lawyer that specializes in Truck Accidents.  Steven C. Lee & Associates will evaluate every aspect of your accident and fight for full compensation for you and your family.  

WHY DO YOU NEED A LAWYER?

Truck accidents are not the same as a car accident. Truck accidents are far more complicated and often involve state and federal regulations.  But the biggest challenge is proving liability in a truck accident claim.

Liability is essentially determining who caused the accident; what party is at fault.  Holding the correct party responsible for damages is critical to your compensation.  Without a clear determination of liability, damages may not be awarded.

You need the experienced legal team of Steven C. Lee & Associates to help you through this process.

Trucking accidents can often involve one than one individual or business entity.  For example, a truck driver may be hired through a company that transfers and ships equipment or items, but the driver may also work as an independent contractor without a connection to company. In these situations, the trucker may remain solely liable for the incident. 

Knowing these various scenarios is vital for you in seeking compensation. Steven C. Lee will investigate all aspects of your case to determine who is at fault.

Identifying the Responsible Party

In truck accidents, there are several parties that may be liable for your accident. 

  • Truck Manufacturer: If the truck manufacturer created the vehicle with a defect, this could lead to the cause of an accident.
  • Equipment Manufacturer: Another manufacturer that made the tires, ropes or pulleys could have a defect that leads to an accident.
  • The Trucking Company: The agency or company that hires the trucker may not perform inspections correctly or routinely leading to negligent accidents.
  • Other Third Parties: If the trucking company cuts corners, the employer or company may hold liability in the accident. Then, there are third parties that could have some connection to the collision. The last person is the trucker, and they may possess full responsibility or share it with another party.

The Truck Driver

The truck driver may be fully liable for the accident if they are breaking the law, having an operational issue with the truck, distracted while drive, or consuming drugs or alcohol.  It may also be the driver’s fault if they are driving long hours in a single trip, driving at night, drowsy driving or experiencing a  health conditions/issue.  In most cases, the truck driver is to blame.

The Trucking Company

The company that hires a truck driver may also be the responsible party.  But proving this can be difficult as it must be proved that an inspection was incomplete, the company was cutting corners around safety, pushing drivers to work longer hours, etc.  Some of our investigations have revealed that trucking companies share liability in incidents due to faulty equipment or cutting corners to shorten delivery times.  

The Owner of the Truck

In some cases ,the trucking company does not own the truck but uses it and provides the vehicle for a trucker.  In these cases, the owner may hold liability in a trucking incident.  The owner of the truck must maintain the truck and keep in safe working order. There are federal regulations that govern the inspection and maintenance of commercial trucks. If these steps are not followed, the owner of the truck can be liable.

The Cargo Loader

Truck accidents can also be caused by the cargo loaders,  For example, the loader did not fully inspect the cargo or did not secure it properly.  In these incidents, the cargo loader may be fully liable for causing the accident.

Determining liability is complicated and requires an experienced legal team that understands every aspect of trucking accidents.

At Steven C. Lee & Associates, we have extensive experience investigating and litigating complex commercial trucking accident claims.  We understand the tactics used by insurance companies to try to complicate matters and their strategies to reduce or deny your claims.  We are here to help you.  Give us a call today!

AUSTIN TRUCK ACCIDENT ARTICLES

TRUCK ACCIDENT LEGAL TERMS

Lawyer (Attorney)

lawyer or attorney is a person who advises individuals, businesses, and government agencies on legal issues and disputes, and represents them in court and legal transactions. Also called attorneys, lawyers inform their clients about their legal rights and obligations, and help lead them through the complexities of the law.

Plaintiff

plaintiff refers to the individual or individuals who is initiating a lawsuit against another part.  Typically, the plaintiff is the party injured during an accident.  In wrongful death cases, the plaintiff may be the estate or the descendants family.

Defendant

defendant is an individual, company, or institution sued or accused of an action that harmed another party. The defendant is the individual or entity who is sued in a civil lawsuit. In trucking accidents, the defendant may be the truck driver, trucking company, or even a parts manufacturer.

 Accident Reconstructionist

Accident Reconstructionist are experts that investigate the scene of an accident, the vehicles involved, take photographs, and collect data to determine how an accident occurred.  Accident Reconstructionist are employed by law firms to investigate truck accidents to determine accident fault and cause.

Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)

A Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) is the license required to legally operate commercial vehicles that have a gross vehicle weight of more than 26,000 pounds. In Texas, Commercial Driver’s Licenses are issued by TxDot.  There are three basic classes of CDLs:

  • Class A -Permits the holder to operate any combination of vehicles with a gross combination weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more, provided the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle or vehicles towed exceeds 10,000 pounds.
  • Class B – Permits the holder to operate any single vehicle with a  GVWR of 26,001 pounds or more, anyone one of those vehicles towing a vehicle that does not exceed 10,000 pounds GVWR, and any vehicle designed to transport 24 passengers or more, including the driver.  If the skills test is taken in a bus with a GVWR of less than 26,001 pounds, the holder will be restricted to operating buses under 26,001 pounds GVWR.
  • Class C – Permits the holder to operate any single vehicle or combination of vehicles that is not a Class A or B if the vehicle is designed to transport 16 to 23 passengers including the driver, or used in the transportation of hazardous materials.

Compensatory Damages

Compensatory damages is the amount of money awarded to a plaintiff to compensate them for damages, injury, or another incurred loss. Compensatory damages are awarded in civil court cases where loss has occurred as a result of the negligence or unlawful conduct of another party.

To receive compensatory damages, the plaintiff has to prove that a loss occurred and that it was attributable to the defendant. The plaintiff must also be able to quantify the amount of loss in the eyes of the jury or judge.

Compensatory damages are split into economic damages (eg: lost wages and medical bills) and non-economic damages (eg: pain and suffering). In addition to compensatory damages, a defendant may also be awarded punitive damages.

Department of Transportation (DOT)

The Department of Transportation (DOT) is an agency of the federal government responsible for helping maintain and develop the nation’s transportation systems including the trucking industry.

Electronic Log Device (ELD)

An Electronic Log Device is used to electronically record a driver’s Record of Duty Status (RODS), which replaces the paper logbook some drivers currently use to record their compliance with Hours of Service (HOS) requirements.  Effective December 18, 2018, the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) rule was established to mandate such devices in commercial vehicles.

Electronic Control Module (ECM)

An Electronic Control Module (“ECM”) is a small computer that collects commercial trucks.  ECMs control and monitor the vehicle’s operations. This includes recording information such as engine performance, speed, hour of operation, and any mechanical problems

ECM data is critically important in helping prove driver fatigue or negligence by the trucking company. When driver or company logs differ from the ECM usage data, it is a strong indication of poor internal control by the company in ensuring compliance with trucking regulations.

As the ECM belongs to the trucking company, it is crucial that ECM data is immediately recovered and preserved before the trucking company deletes it.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is an agency in the United States Department of Transportation that regulates the trucking industry in the United States. The primary mission of the FMCSA is to reduce crashes, injuries and fatalities involving large trucks and buses.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR)

The FMCSR is a set of guidelines that set the minimum standards for anyone who operates a commercial motor vehicle in interstate commerce.

From a legal standpoint, “interstate commerce” includes transportation, trade or traffic that takes place from one state to another, including transportation from a state across U.S. borders. It’s important to note that there are also intrastate regulations that can preclude the federal regulations and apply only to the operations that stay within state lines. With so many rules, regulations and exemptions, the FMCSR can get complicated very quickly.

While there’s a common misconception that the regulations only apply to tractor trailers, they actually become applicable for any vehicle with a weight of 10,0001 pounds or greater. That means that a heavy-duty pickup truck, such as a Ford F-350, pulling a small axle trailer with a tractor on it must comply with the federal regulations. Even if that vehicle is being used for non-commercial purposes, it may fall under the FMCSR requirements.

Hours-of-Service (HOS)

Hours of Service (HOS) refers to regulations issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and govern the working hours of anyone operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) in the United States. These regulations apply to truck drivers, commercial and city bus drivers, and school bus drivers who operate CMVs. These rules limit the number of daily and weekly hours spent driving and working, and regulate the minimum amount of time drivers must spend resting between driving shifts. For intrastate commerce, the respective state’s regulations apply.

The driver of a CMV is required to keep a record of working hours using a log book, outlining the total number of hours spent driving and resting, as well as the time at which the change of duty status occurred. In lieu of a log book, a motor carrier may keep track of a driver’s hours using Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs), which automatically record the amount of time spent driving the vehicle.

The HOS’s main purpose is to prevent accidents caused by driver fatigue. This is accomplished by limiting the number of driving hours per day, and the number of driving and working hours per week. Fatigue is also prevented by keeping drivers on a 21- to 24-hour schedule, maintaining a natural sleep/wake cycle. Drivers are required to take a daily minimum period of rest, and are allowed longer “weekend” rest periods to combat cumulative fatigue effects that accrue on a weekly basis.

Enforcement of the HOS is generally handled by DOT officers of each state, and are sometimes checked when CMVs pass through weigh stations. Drivers found to be in violation of the HOS can be forced to stop driving for a certain period of time, which may negatively affect the motor carrier’s safety rating.

Logbook

A logbook is a collection of records that detail drivers activities such as on duty hours, driving hours and time spent in a sleeper berth.

Effective December 18, 2017, the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) rule became mandatory for most commercial vehicle drivers. This means that paper records are no longer sufficient, and ELDs must be installed in commercial trucks. These small electronic devices connect to the vehicle’s engine, and track how long the truck has been in motion. Drivers caught operating trucks without ELDs will be cited and fined, and safety inspectors may remove these vehicles from service.

Commercial truck operators are required by law to take off at least 10 consecutive hours between shifts. Truckers cannot be on duty for more than 14 consecutive hours, and they’re not permitted to spend over 11 of those hours actually driving.

Federal regulations also stipulate that truckers are limited to driving a total of 60 hours during a seven-day period, or 70 hours in an eight-day period. Truck drivers must then rest for a minimum of 34 consecutive hours prior to starting a new driving period.

Negligence

Negligence is the failure to use reasonable care, resulting in damage or injury to another. Negligence must be proven before you can hold a person or company legally responsible for the harm you suffered. Proving negligence is required in most claims from accidents or injuries, such as truck accident cases. Negligence claims must prove four things in court: duty, breach, causation, and damages/harm.

Generally speaking, when someone acts in a careless way and causes an injury to another person, under the legal principle of “negligence” the careless person will be legally liable for any resulting harm. This basis for assessing and determining fault is utilized in most disputes involving an accident or injury, during informal settlement talks and up through a trial in a personal injury lawsuit.

In order to win a negligence case, the plaintiff (the person injured) must prove four elements to show that the defendant (the person allegedly at fault) acted negligently:

  1. Duty – The defendant owed a legal duty to the plaintiff under the circumstances;
  2. Breach  – The defendant breached that legal duty by acting or failing to act in a certain way;
  3. Causation  – It was the defendant’s actions (or inaction) that actually caused the plaintiff’s injury; and
  4. Damages – The plaintiff was harmed or injured as a result of the defendant’s actions.

National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent U.S. government investigative agency responsible for civil transportation accident investigation. NTSB investigates and reports on aviation accidents and incidents, certain types of highway crashes, ship and marine accidents, pipeline incidents, and railroad accidents. The NTSB does not have any power in regards to the creation or enforcement of regulations, but they are often called upon to investigate problems or serious accidents. This information is then relayed back to other government agencies such as the FMCSA with recommendations.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages, or exemplary damages, are the amount of money a defendant must pay as punishment for outrageous conduct and/or to reform or deter the defendant and others from engaging in conduct similar to that which formed the basis of a specific lawsuit.

Although there is no maximum sum, punitive damages typically do not exceed four times the amount of compensatory damages. For example, if a plaintiff recovers $100,000 in compensatory damages and is awarded punitive damages, he or she most likely will receive up to $400,000 in punitive damages

Safety Rating

Safety Rating is an evaluation given to a company which operates trucks or buses by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

A safety rating is determined by a compliance review, an on-site examination of motor carrier operations, such as drivers’ hours of service, maintenance and inspection, driver qualification, commercial drivers’ license requirements, financial responsibility, accidents, hazardous materials, and other safety and transportation records to determine whether a motor carrier meets the safety standard guidelines.

One of three safety ratings will be issued following a compliance review:

  1. Satisfactory – A Satisfactory rating means that a motor carrier has in place and functioning adequate safety management controls to meet the safety standard guidelines. Safety management controls are adequate if they are appropriate for the size and type of operation of the particular motor carrier.
  2. Conditional – This rating means a motor carrier does not have adequate safety management controls in place to ensure compliance with the safety fitness standard.
  3. Unsatisfactory – An Unsatisfactory rating means a motor carrier does not have adequate safety management controls in place to ensure compliance with the safety standard guidelines.

Statute of Limitations

A statute of limitations is a law that sets the maximum time the parties involved have to initiate legal proceedings from the date of an alleged offense, whether civil or criminal. However, cases involving serious crimes, like murder, typically have no maximum period under a statute of limitations.  With Texas truck accidents the Statute of Limitations is 2 years and that time starts the moment of the accident.

AUSTIN TRUCK ACCIDENT INFOGRAPHIC

Austin Truck Accidents - Helpful Tips - Steven C. Lee & Associatates

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