When you’re driving alone at night in Florida there are some additional dangers that you should be aware of. While you probably already realize that more car accidents occur at this time of the night because people are tired, there are some things that you may not realize. For instance, there are more drunk driving incidents, visibility is poorer, wildlife may make their way onto the roads, and you could also potentially become a target for criminals. Fortunately, experts say that there are some things that you can do to be a safer driver if you must drive your vehicle alone at night.

Do Your Best to Improve Visibility

You must take good care of your eyes. This means that if you wear glasses or contact lenses, you’ll need to be sure you have the right prescription. If you’re wearing prescription glasses, ask your doctor about a no-glare coating that will help you see better when driving at night. Contact lens wearers should never wear their contacts all day then try to drive at night when their contacts lenses are probably feeling dry and uncomfortable. Additionally, it’s important to use headlights and high beams so that other drivers can see you.

Try to Always Have Someone with You

There are several reasons why you should always try to have someone ride with you at night, including:

  • This will make you less of a target for criminals.
  • You’ll be able to remain more awake.
  • They can provide you with a second set of eyes – something that is especially important if you’re feeling really tired.

Keep Your car Well-Maintained to Avoid Potential Breakdowns

Your car needs routine maintenance. It also should have a full gas tank before driving anywhere at night. Following these preventive tips will help you not get stuck in the middle of a road somewhere at night.

Don’t get Lost

Make sure you have instructions on how to get to your destination. Use the GPS on your phone but make sure to only follow its main routes. You’ll find that there will be more businesses open there. You’ll also have more landmarks available to you but realize these can look different at night.

Keep Your Doors Locked and Your Valuables Hidden

You want to make yourself less of a target. You can also do this by turning off any interior lights so that you and your vehicle’s interior aren’t as visible.

Prepare for the Unexpected

When you notice another driver who’s acting aggressive or suspicious, trust your own instincts. Make sure your doors are locked then drive to the nearest police station or open business. You should also be prepared for a car accident happening. At which time you’ll want to immediately call for some help.

Remain Alert

Make sure you aren’t too tired to drive. The night’s darkness will only make you feel even more tired. Here are some tips to help you if you must drive at night:

  • Keep your vehicle cool.
  • Drink some caffeine.
  • Plan where you can take breaks safely.
  • Don’t use cruise control.
  • Make sure you’re not driving distracted. While this can result in a car accident at any time, this is even more likely at night.

Conclusion

Although you may do your best to take all necessary precautions to prevent a car accident while driving at night, you still may end up in one, nevertheless. If you find yourself injured by an accident or attack, it’s quite possible that you have a legal claim. To learn if this is true you should contact the Rojas Law Group. Even if you’re uncertain about your rights, you should still contact Attorney Rojas. She’ll help you get to the bottom of things in no time flat.

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In St. Petersburg leaders are looking at ways to update the city’s micromobility options, including electric bikes. This will be taken into consideration on February 6 when the city council will consider approving the second amendment to their agreement with Cycle Hop LLC (the company that’s been responsible for the city’s bike share program since 2016). The amendment would allow for a three-year extension to the agreement, updating the bikes to electric ones, and modifying the price payment structure.

Why Bikes are Being Updated

The technology that’s used by the existing bikes has grown old and needs updated so the equipment continues functioning correctly and can meet the desired service level. This is especially important now that the industry is beginning to incorporate electric bikes within their fleets. It’s recommended that St. Petersburg start introducing this mobility option alongside of their motorized scooter share program.

Considering the popularity of Cycle Hop’s Coast Bike Share program throughout last year, this makes sense. In all there were more than 115,000 trips covering over 241,000 miles throughout the city in 2019.

What the Updated Program Will Include

Cycle Hop will be upgrading St. Petersburg’s fleet of bicycles as part of their second amendment agreement with the city. They will also trade in used bikes for 300 new HOPR 3 bikes on the HOPR platform. There will be no cost for taking these steps which would expand the fleet to 50 electric bikes at a cost of $1,495 per bike or a total of $74,750. These will all be three-speed bikes that can reach a speed of 20 MPH and cover about 40 miles with a single charge. Once the agreement for them is approved, they’d be introduced exclusively to the city of St. Petersburg within the next 120 days.

This will be a great way to provide another mobility option – one that will be faster, easier, and that will also make you less sweaty than if you were to use one of the bike share’s pedal bikes. These changes are also expected to help keep the bike share more relevant as motorized scooter will be introduced to the St. Petersburg area in the spring of 2020.

Tampa has already introduced scooters as part of the bike share program they have along their shore. There people are taking around 4,000 trips each month using these bikes. This will be slightly higher than the number that’s expected to use them in St. Petersburg. However, Tampa has never added any electric bikes to their fleet.

Overall research shows that scooters’ impact on bike share programs has mixed results. This is because there are several factors that must be taken into consideration (e.g. the program’s age, expanse, availability; the community’s regulation of their micromobility framework).

Conclusion

The cost of buying and implementing these electric bikes has been appropriated within the Multimodal Impact Fees Capital Improvement Fund. This means you won’t need to worry about this, but you should know that bikes do make driving more challenging. If you find yourself getting into an accident with one of them, make sure you seek legal representation immediately. For this you should contact the Rojas Law Group.

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Whenever the police are out and about while doing their job, they’re on the lookout for anyone who may be breaking the law. Recently, they’ve started looking out for something new that’s now against the law – texting and driving.

Introducing the new law to Florida’s Drivers

According to Trooper Ken Watson, most people have wanted to see a law against texting and driving. As such, most people are glad to see that it’s now gone into effect and are doing their best to not break this law. Obviously, this is something that makes law officers happy. Trooper Watson hopes that this will be the new norm and that people are ready and willing to put their phones down while they’re driving.

Why Florida has Enacted This new Law

In May 2019 Florida’s Governor Ron De Santis signed into law a bill that made it illegal for anyone to text while they are driving. This same bill also makes it illegal for drivers to use their phone in an active school or work zone. However, the governor chose to give drivers a grace period that lasted until July 2019 before they started actively handing out tickets for offenses. During the grace period warnings were only being given. Now however, according to the Florida Highway Patrol, there have been a total of 1,220 tickets handed out in the past 5 months.

Since Florida law officials started paying attention to the number of people who were texting and driving, they admit to having seen a problem: There have been numerous rear-end collisions and cases of people who violated the right of way. These accidents aren’t only happening in Florida, law enforcement agents throughout the country admit that they’ve seen problems too. Such problems are bound to occur when someone is looking at their phone’s screen instead of looking out their window while they’re driving.

The Future of the Law

It’s relatively easy for a law enforcement agent to know when someone is breaking this law because they’ll be looking down at their lap where their cell phone is lying instead of looking out the window. Obviously, this is dangerous because when you’re looking down at your phone you don’t have any situational awareness even though you’re still driving your vehicle. According to Trooper Watson, it’s important to educate drivers of this danger since many of today’s younger drivers are accustomed to always having a cell phone in their hands. When they’re driving it’s critical for them to understand the importance of putting their phones down so they can truly focus on the road. Doing the right thing here doesn’t only mean you won’t get a ticket, but it also means that you may save someone’s life – maybe even your own.

Conclusion

When you are caught texting and driving, you’ll want to seek out some legal representation. For this you should reach out to the Rojas Law Group. They have many years of experience representing Florida’s drivers and getting them the favorable outcomes they’re looking for. Make sure you reach out to them today.

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When you’re in a car accident in Florida, you may experience some serious injuries. You may also get injured if you break down on the highway or are a pedestrian near a road. Major roads are major dangers. Fortunately, if you find yourself there dealing with your vehicle, there are some things you should do to reduce your risk of being injured.

Remain Calm

Although you may be tempted to panic, don’t. You need to be calm so you think rationally. If you panic, you’ll make rash decisions that could potentially cause a secondary accident.

Evaluate the Situation you Find Yourself In

If someone rear ends you then continues to act aggressively or in a fashion that makes you feel unsafe, lock your doors and call 911. On the other hand, if you’re having vehicle problems, see if you can make it safely off the highway.

Pull Your Vehicle off to the Side of the Road

Quickly and safely pull off the road as far away from traffic as possible. Make sure your vehicle is not on a hill and that you’re using your traffic signals to alert other drivers of your presence and don’t cause another car accident.

Make Sure You’re Visible

Pause to consider if you’re in greater danger if you were to get out of your vehicle. If so, you should stay in your vehicle. Otherwise, find somewhere safer for you to go. Regardless of your decision here, make sure that other motorists can see you so that you don’t get hit. Before leaving your vehicle, make sure you turn on your four-way flashers. You should also carry a flashlight, phone, and reflective item with you as you walk to safety, especially if you’re doing so at the time of sunset or after the sun has already gone down.

Call for Help

You need to make sure you call a friend or family member so they know what happened and where you’re at. Even if you’re walking to a nearby service station, it’s important for someone to know where you are and when they can expect you to check in again. Then, depending upon your situation, you’ll also want to call for roadside assistance and the police (either as an emergency or dial their non-emergency number).

Always remain Alert

While you’re seeking or waiting for help, make sure you’re always aware of your surroundings. When a tow truck arrives, make sure that it’s the one that you called for. If someone else stops to help you, make a note of their license plate number and any other identifying information. Regardless of what’s going on, always trust your instincts and use your common sense so you remain safe. It’s always better to err on the side of caution.

Conclusion

Unfortunately, regardless of the safety precautions you choose to take, you may still get injured along the side of a major road somewhere. When this happens, you may have a legal claim against liable parties. To learn more about who may owe you money, contact Rojas Law Group for a free consultation.

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When you live in Tampa you’ll be driving over and around water almost daily. In 2017 there were 11 people who were killed in Florida when their vehicles crashed in water. According to the American Automobile Association, in 2018 about 21,000 crashes in which 1,800 people died throughout the United States. There are some tools that you can use to help you escape from your vehicle if it becomes submerged in water or catches on fire. These will help you break through a window and free yourself.

What These Tools Are

There are both spring-loaded and hammer-style tools available. The spring-loaded tools can break tempered windows, which are the type of windows that most cars have. Unfortunately, the hammer-style tools don’t work nearly as well. When tested there was only one that could crack the glass while the other two did nothing, even after the window was struck with it 5 times. Neither the spring-loaded or hammer-style tools could break the laminated glass that’s growing popular in most new cars today. This is a really strong glass that’s able to keep people from being ejected from the vehicle when they get into a crash. It’s this additional security that makes it harder to break out of these vehicles if you’re trapped in one of them. These discoveries were made after the American Automobile Association tested these tools.

Choosing the Right Tool for Your Vehicle

According to the Hillsborough County Fire Rescue Deputy Chief of Operations everyone should have some type of tool in their vehicle. Most of these tools cost under $15 and are worth much more when they help you escape from an accident. They’re also quite small – typically only about the size of chapstick. Mark Jenkins, spokesman for AAA in Tampa highly recommends buying a spring-loaded tool instead of a hammer-style one. He says this is important because if you have the wrong tool it’ll be worthless at the time of an accident. To know what type of tool you need, look at the bottom corner of your vehicle’s side window where you’ll discover whether you have tempered or laminated glass in your vehicle. If the information isn’t there, contact the vehicle’s manufacturer. They can also tell you if different windows throughout your vehicle also use different types of glass.

Knowing What to do at the Time of an Accident

Being well-educated about these tools before you need to use them is very important. You should also have an emergency plan formed in your head before you get into a car crash since this will save you precious time if an emergency does arise. When you get into a car crash Dougherty says that you only have 30 – 120 seconds to escape from your vehicle. Unfortunately, this isn’t much time which is why you need to have a plan ahead of time and do your best to remain calm when you must enact the plan. Both he and Jenkins also stress the importance of keeping the item easily accessible so you don’t waste time trying to find it when you need to use it – hence wasting precious time.

One of the best ways to store this tool is to simply use a piece of Velcro to affix it beneath your steering wheel. This will only work for small tools, but AAA says you shouldn’t buy one that has additional features anyway since this won’t improve the tool’s performance. Instead, these additional features simply make the tool bigger, clunkier, and harder to use.

Conclusion

When you get into a car crash in Tampa, you’ll want to find a lawyer to represent you. For this make sure you call the Rojas Law Group immediately.

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Recently AAA conducted a research study about new ADAS (Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems) technologies including adaptive cruise control, automatic braking, and lane-keeping assistance. While these technologies were created to help keep you and your passengers safe while you’re driving on the road, this research discovered that it may be causing car accidents instead.

What AAA’s Research Discovered

In AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s most recent study about ADAS technologies they discovered that the people who are the most distracted by these ADAS technologies were those who owned a vehicle with these technologies installed within them. Although you’d think that these people would be less distracted since they should already know how their vehicles’ ADAS technologies work, this simply was not true. Instead these drivers were much more distracted (some of these drivers were observed engaging in texting or adjusting their radio) when they had their ADAS technologies activated. In fact, when these ADAS technologies weren’t activated, the drivers were much less distracted.

The opposite was also true in that those people who weren’t familiar with these features were much more attentive and engaged while behind the wheel.

This doesn’t mean that these ADAS technologies aren’t worthwhile. They really do have a lot to offer, especially when it comes to safety and comfort. However, it’s important for drivers to realize that these ADAS technologies were never meant to replace their attention and engagement that should always be present while they’re behind the wheel. After all, you never know when this technology may fail and if you’re too distracted you may not be able to avoid a car accident when it does.

According to AAA’s executive director, Dr. David Yang, the bottom line here is that long-term use of ADAS technologies is the problem.

How to Combat Complacency

There are some things you can do to help you not become complacent in your use of these technologies. This is important since complacency is one of the main factors in the majority of car accidents that happen on the roads today. With this in mind, AAA says that you should make sure that:

  • You’re always active and engaged, even when you’re using lane-keep assist and adaptive cruise control technologies.
  • You know what ADAS technologies are installed in your vehicle and how each of them works.
  • You remember that while these ADAS technologies are great and can be quite helpful, they do have their limitations.

Conclusion

You never know when a car accident may happen. Despite your best efforts to remain alert while on the roads, you never know when another driver has become complacent. Of course, this is why it’s so important to know how to drive well defensively. It’s also important to know where to get help from an experienced lawyer when you do end up in an accident, regardless of whose fault the accident is. If you get into an accident while living in Tampa, Florida you should reach out to the Rojas Law Group. Put Attorney Rojas to work for you and you’ll put your anxiety about the accident to rest as well.

Unfortunately, disaster has a way of happening when we least expect it. This is something that bankruptcy attorneys know all too well. After all, people rarely make an appointment to talk to these lawyers when their lives are going well. Instead, clients enter their offices when something has gone horribly wrong, oftentimes quite unexpectedly – for instance, a car accident. If you find yourself in this scenario, relax you now have an option available to you to help discharge the debt.

How Bankruptcy Deals with Property Damages from Car Accidents

According to the law you as a debtor can discharge debts for any damage that resulted from a vehicular accident. The only exception to this is Section 523(a)(6) which says that you cannot discharge property damages that you’ve willfully and maliciously caused to another person or their property. This is something that was demonstrated by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Kawaauhau v. Geiger matter, 523 U.S. 57, 61–62 (1998) whereby willful and malicious acts were differentiated from negligent and reckless acts.

According to this case willful injuries are those that are deliberately or intentionally done. Typically, this means that an auto accident will fall outside of this scope. Even if you’re caught driving drunk, you’re usually charged with actions of “reckless disregard” and not ones that are “willful and malicious.” The only exception to this occurs in a car accident Chapter 7 case. If you file a Chapter 13 case though, there isn’t a property damage exception. This means that any damage that resulted from your vehicular accident will automatically be discharged in a Chapter 13 case.

How Bankruptcy Deals with Personal Injury Debt from Car Accidents

Unfortunately, when it comes to personal injuries the bankruptcy code is less forgiving. There are in fact a lot of restrictions related to discharging such debts. Section 523(a)(9) contains the most restrictive of these exceptions. It has to do with driving while you’re under the influence of alcohol and it doesn’t matter if you file a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 case, it still applies to you.

It is quite possible for the court to find that your judgment satisfies all the necessary elements to meet an exception according to Section 523(a)(9) but it still isn’t bound by an acquittal in a state DUI case. This is because the standard of proof is different for criminal proceedings in the state court. A bankruptcy may also discover that under Section 523(a)(9) personal injuries can’t be discharged even if you aren’t charged with or you’re acquitted of a criminal DUI offense.

Conclusion

For more information on how all of this works and what your rights are concerning your car accident if you were to file a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 case, contact the Rojas Law Group today. Over the years Attorney Rojas has helped many people successfully navigate their way through these grey areas of the law. Make sure to give her a call today and set up an appointment so she can help you too.

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When you’re driving alone at night in Florida you face some additional dangers that you wouldn’t otherwise be faced with. Not only are other drivers more fatigued but there are also drunk drivers on the road too. Add to this the fact that visibility is generally poor and that there may be wildlife on the roads, and you can see that you’ll need some safety tips to help you navigate the roads safely after dark. This is without even thinking about the fact that you may be a possible target for criminals.

Improve Visibility

Take good care of your eyesight. If you wear glasses or contact lenses, you’ll want to make sure you keep your prescription up to date. You should also consider getting a no-glare coating on them so that you can see better while driving at night. On the other hand, if you wear contact lenses, you shouldn’t drive at night if you’ve worn them all day. This is because they may become dry and uncomfortable.

As far as safety tips for the vehicle you’re driving, you should adjust both the interior and dash light to prevent glare. Also, make sure that you use your headlights and high beams as necessary so that not only you can see but you can also be seen.

Travel with a Passenger

When you’re traveling with a passenger in your vehicle, you’re less likely to be targeted by criminals. You’ll also have a better chance of staying awake and alert behind the wheel. Your passenger can act as an extra set of eyes as well. On a related note, you shouldn’t use cruise control at night. In this way, you’re forced to focus on the road but make sure that your passengers aren’t distracting you from doing so.

Keep Your Vehicle from Breaking Down

It’s important to perform routine maintenance on your vehicle and always keep your gas tank full. You don’t want to break down or run out of gas in the middle of a road after dark. Of course, you may still encounter an emergency and if you do you should remain in your vehicle and call for help.

Don’t get Lost

Make sure you know where you’re going and how to get there. Always take the main route so that you’ll have more businesses open and landmarks available. Even if you’ve traveled this road several times in the past, it may still look different in the dark.

Be Aware of Criminals

When a criminal can see that they can’t easily access your vehicle or that there isn’t anything in your vehicle that they want to access, you’ll be less of a target for them. You can take this a step further by keeping your interior lights turned off at night so that the inside of your vehicle is less visible.

Sometimes you may notice that another driver is either acting suspiciously or aggressively. Always trust your instincts in these circumstances. Make sure you lock your doors, call for help, and drive to a police station, open business, or a gas station.

Be Alert

It’s important to keep the interior of your vehicle cool and never drive when you’re feeling exhausted. The darkness of night can make you feel even more tired. If you must drive, drink some caffeine and take frequent breaks.

Contact an Attorney if Necessary

Despite your best efforts to follow these safety tips you may still be injured in a car accident. When this happens, you may have a legal claim on your hands. This is when you’ll want to contact the Rojas Law Group to ensure you get what you deserve out of your claim.

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When you’re in a car accident do you know what steps you should take? If you answered “no” to this question, you should know that you’re not alone. The steps you should take are important and easy to remember, which is why we’ll review them here for you.

Stay Put

When you’re in a car accident in Florida, law dictates that you must stop and exchange information with the other driver. Of course, you want to make sure that you don’t obstruct traffic any more than necessary. If anyone has been injured, you must render “reasonable assistance” to them. Failure to take these steps may result in you being charged with a felony if someone is injured or dies. Even if there’s only property damage, you may still be charged with a misdemeanor.

While at the scene of the accident, make sure everyone is fine and if anyone does need medical assistance, call 911 immediately. If someone is killed or there’s injuries or property damage of $500 or more you must immediately notify the police and highway patrol. Regardless, you’re responsible for exchanging information all relevant information (e.g. name, phone number, address, driver’s license number, vehicle registration number, insurance company and policy number). You should also get this information for any witnesses. It’s also in your best interest to take photographs and notes too.

Although you may be tempted to apologize, don’t. You don’t want to discuss liability right now. Doing so may result in you unintentionally or unnecessarily admitting guilt.

Contact Your Insurance

As soon as possible, call your insurance company and report the accident. In Florida you’re responsible for maintaining at least $10,000 of Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and Property Damage Liability (PDL). Since Florida is a “no fault” state, PIP will cover you regardless of who’s at fault. Your PDL will cover any damage that you’ve done to another person’s property.

Make sure you’re honest with your insurance company. This doesn’t mean you have to accept their settlement offer though. If this means that you’re struggling to have your claim resolved, then make sure you participate in the mediation that’s offered by the Florida Department of Financial Services. This is also who you should talk to if you have questions or want to file a complaint about your insurance.

Talk to an Attorney

Unfortunately, there are times when you may need to take legal action after a car accident. Oftentimes this will depend on the extent of the injuries and the amount of damage that occurred. For this you must remember that the Statute of Limitations (the timeframe you have for being able to file a negligence or personal injury claim) is four years from the date upon which the accident occurred. Typically, such claims are based on the idea that the other driver was negligent. This means that they were careless and thus caused or contributed to the accident.

You can also seek monetary compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering in this manner. There are different divisions of the court that may hear your claim depending on how much financial compensation you’re seeking. For instance, the county civil court will hear any case seeking up to $15,000 while the county civil court hears cases of up to $15,000 and the circuit court is responsible for any case seeking financial compensation above that level.

Don’t try to figure everything out by yourself. When you’re in a car accident in Tampa, give Attorney Juana Maria Rojas right away. She can help you sort through your claim and get the settlement you deserve. Get started today by contacting her now.

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says approximately 80% of reported motorcycle accidents result in either injury or death. This is why safety is so important. Fortunately, there are some things you can do here to help yourself.

Wear the Right Gear

When you’re riding your motorcycle, you should have long pants and sleeves on. It’s best if these are made of leather or another protective material. Additionally, you should also wear gloves, eye protection, and boots that cover your ankles. If you plan to be riding your motorcycle when it’s cold outside, you can either invest in heavier gear that’s been specifically designed for these temperatures or add additional layers of clothing to the ones you typically wear.

You also shouldn’t ever overlook the importance of wearing a helmet that’s approved by the Department of Transportation and covers your entire face. Light-colored helmets are best because they’re more visible. However, the helmet isn’t only for others benefit, but for yours as well. If you’re wearing a helmet when you get into a motorcycle accident, your much less likely to suffer from a traumatic brain injury. If you do get into an accident, make sure you replace your helmet right away. Otherwise it should be replaced once every 5 years.

Make Sure You’re Seen

You want to make sure the other vehicles you’re sharing the road with can clearly see you. This is why you should wear bright colors and have reflective elements on both your clothing as well as on your bike. Always have the headlight on your motorcycle turned on. Do your best to ride in the part of the lane where you’re most visible to other motorists but if you think they still can’t see you, use your horn.

Operate Your Motorcycle with Safety in Mind

New motorcyclists aren’t the only ones who should take a safety course offered by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF). Experienced riders should also take an occasional refresher course. Not only will such courses get you a discount with your insurance, but they’ll also teach you the importance of:

  • Being alert, especially around anyone who may be texting while driving
  • Watching for intersections, sand, potholes, railroad tracks, road hazards, and other motorcyclists
  • Not drinking or speeding – common causes of over 40% of motorcycle accidents
  • Avoiding bad weather or, at the very least, knowing how to safely operate your motorcycle in rain and wind

While you may think that you’ve learned these things before and since you already know them you’re prepared for anything that you may encounter while riding your motorcycle, you can never grow too secure in your knowledge. Doing so may lead you to become nonchalant in your driving, which could then easily result in a motorcycle accident.

A Head’s Up

In most motorcycle accidents the motorcyclist themselves typically aren’t at fault. When someone else’s negligence behind the wheel leads to your injuries, remember you have the same rights as other drivers. Sometimes this means that you’ll need to have an attorney exert these rights for you. Attorney Rojas used to ride a motorcycle and understands the extra exposure cyclists face. If this happens to you, make sure you get Attorney Juana Maria Rojas at the Rojas Law Group on your side.

Picture Credit: Sadiq Nafee