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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.

Picture Credit: Wade Austin Ellis

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.

Picture Credit: Matthew T Rader

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.

Picture Credit: My Sunset Photos

Oftentimes when a person gets into a car accident, they believe that their insurance will take care of everything for them. Unfortunately, when you’re in a fender bender you may underestimate its cost. However, any accident you’re in (yes, even a fender bender) can cost you a lot of money. Even if you’ve been paying your insurance company’s premiums for years, they may still not cover the entire cost of the accident. This is why it’s so important for you to right away decide if you need the help of an experienced attorney. In doing so you must take all the various costs of the accident into consideration.

Repairing or Replacing Your Vehicle

When your car is damaged in an accident, you’ll either pay a mechanic to fix it or buy a new car. If the accident is minor (e.g. scratches, dents), you may still pay a lot of money to have your car fixed.

Damage to Your Personal Property

When you have valuable items in your vehicle (e.g. laptop, camera, phone) during the time of your car accident you’ll need to pay to have the items replaced. This can easily add up to thousands of dollars.

Vehicle Financing

If you’re leasing your vehicle or using any other type of financing, you must continue to meet these obligations after your car accident – even if your car is deemed a total loss. This can be devastating, especially if you must take some time off work to recover from your injuries.

Medical Bills

After the accident, you may need to visit your local hospital’s emergency room. Even if it’s a “minor” accident you may still have medical costs in the future as you get follow up treatment. These bills quickly add up. They can be particularly tricky if you slowly develop symptoms because then your insurance company may say that they weren’t a result of your accident. Sometimes you’ll have to pay out of pocket for medications or for co-pays to see a specialist or have certain tests done. Even if you’ve only been in a minor car accident you should still be seen by a doctor because you don’t want to find out later that you did suffer an injury, only to be left fighting for your insurance company to pay the bill.

Lost Time at Work

When you’re injured you may be unable to return to work for a while. This will result in decreased income and it could also result in missing out on new opportunities that you could have otherwise taken advantage of (e.g. a promotion).

Incidental Fees

Even a minor car accident can result in many incidental fees adding up to a large cost for you to pay. Some of the things you should consider here include:

  • Taking a taxi, Uber, or Lyft to get places you need to be
  • Renting a car because you can’t use other types of transportation
  • Replacing your cell phone because it was damaged in the accident
  • Getting help at home if you’ve been injured (e.g. can’t use your hand)

Legal Fees

If the other driver blames the car accident on you, then you may have to defend yourself. This will result in you having legal fees. You may also have these fees if you must take your insurance company to court to get fair compensation.

Don’t dismiss this incident as not being serious enough to retain legal representation. Look at the costs that are involved and any legal situations you may find yourself in. By doing so you’ll see that contacting the Rojas Law Group is one of the best decisions you can make as you go through this ordeal. Don’t delay, call them today.

Picture Credit: ArtisticOperations

Transporting your children to and from school can be dangerous. This is because the leading cause of accidents and injuries in Tampa to children stems from people not following car safety tips. With extra traffic on the roads during these times, your likelihood of being in a car accident increases. Such an accident can result in serious head or back injuries. Fortunately, there are some safety tips you can use to prevent car accidents from happening.

Know Who’s Responsible for Taking Your Children to School

You want to make sure that whomever is responsible for transporting your children to school is a responsible driver. When you let older siblings drive younger children to school, make sure that you talk to them first about making good choices while they’re behind the wheel.

Be Extremely Cautious Around School Buses

Not every child has been taught safety tips for school buses. As such, you should expect that children will run out in front of your vehicle and make other poor choices. It’s your job to be prepared for this to happen.

Watch for Pedestrians, Especially in School Zones

When children walk to and from school, they may use skateboards, scooters, and bikes. This means they could potentially be distracted. They may even be listening to music or playing with their friends as they move along to their destination. Although many parents have taught their children traffic safety tips, many parents have not. Regardless of whether they’ve been taught these things, children do sometimes forget these rules so you must be prepared for them to do surprising things and always maintain good car safety tips when you’re anywhere near a school.

Slow Down, Save a Life

If you’re caught speeding in a school zone, the fine is quite costly. Instead of speeding because you’re in a hurry, make sure you give yourself enough time to slow down while in a school zone – especially during bad weather.

Use age Appropriate Safety Systems in Your Vehicle

Your young children should be in age-appropriate car seats until they grow out of them. Older children should ride in booster seats until they’re tall enough to ride in your car without one. Regardless of what type of seat your child is riding in, the safest place for them to ride is in the back.

Entertain Your Children

Children can distract you by trying to tell you things or fighting amongst themselves. This is why it’s important to keep them distracted with games or activities. Doing so helps you maintain your focus on the road.

Watch out for the Sun

Sun causes significant glare, especially in the early morning and late afternoon. This is why you should always have sunglasses with you while driving.

Know who to Call When an Accident Occurs

Accidents aren’t always preventable – that’s why they’re called accidents. When one occurs make sure you call the Rojas Law Group right away. Located in Tampa, Florida, Personal Injury Attorney Juana Maria Rojas will help you understand your rights and get you the compensation you deserve so you can concentrate on healing and getting your life back to normal. Don’t delay when you’ve been injured in a car accident. Call him right away.

Picture Credit: tookapic

 

Throughout the world there are billions of people who are active on social media on a regular, if not hourly, basis. This is something that BrandWatch, a social media intelligence company recently reported. According to their research, 2.2 billion people spend around 142 minutes per day on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media sites.

Considering how popular these social media sites are and how they can help us keep in touch with our family and friends, it shouldn’t surprise you those car accident victims will oftentimes share information there about their accident. However, it’s important to understand that you could be sharing too much here. In fact, there are several reasons why taking to social media about your accident could adversely affect your case.

Why You Should Avoid Social Media After a Car Accident

When you’re injured in a crash, you’ll want to seek compensation for your losses. This is done by filing a claim with the other driver’s insurance company. Employees at this company are highly trained to find weaknesses in your claim so they don’t have to pay you money for your damages or losses. Besides the information you write on your claim and the conversations you have with the insurance company’s employees; the company will also look for other information. Oftentimes they’ll check your social media profile too.

What Information is Used by Insurance Adjusters to Deny Your Claim

Even though you might not have made any statements that aren’t in your best interest while speaking to the insurance agent, your social media post can offer up quite a different story. Many people will post photos of their vehicles and any injuries they’ve sustained there. They’ll also update people regarding how their claim is going. If an adjuster doesn’t like what they see here, they may deny your claim.

According to an accident attorney, there are two important areas where you put your rights at risk here:

  • If you contradict the information that’s in your claim, you’re refuting what you’ve already told the adjuster regardless of what forms or supporting documents you may have given them. For instance, if you post that you’ve enjoyed a hike today but you’ve told them that you broke your ankle, you may lose any monetary award that you’d have otherwise received.
  • Your friends’ and family’s content is posted to your profile when they engage with you via social media. Insurance adjusters will see this content. If they feel that what you’re showing there refutes the claim you’re making, you will lose any monetary award that you may have otherwise been entitled to.

Get Advice From a car Accident Attorney

When you’re injured in a car accident that was no fault of your own, make sure you reach out to an experienced car accident attorney instead of heading to social media to post about your experience. If you reside in Tampa, Florida you should immediately pick up your phone and give the Rojas Law Group a call.

Attorney Juana Maria Rojas is dedicated to giving you the good, solid advice you need as you make your way through the claims process. He’ll help you avoid any of the pitfalls that could possibly affect your right to monetary compensation. When you’re ready to speak to an experienced accident attorney, contact his Tampa office to set up a consultation.

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It’s important for every driver to have a basic understanding of their state auto accident laws because you never know whether you may get into an accident. For those living in Florida, here’s what you need to know.

How to Report an Accident

Any accidents resulting in injuries or damages over $500 must be reported to your local law enforcement agency. If there are injuries, you must remain at the accident scene. Always make sure you exchange name, address, phone number, and VIN with the other driver. If at all possible, also obtain the names and numbers of any witnesses, take note of the weather conditions and take photos of the vehicles’ final resting spot.

Insurance Requirements

Since Florida is a “no fault” state your insurance pays the first $10,000 of medical expenses regardless of who’s at fault. Nevertheless, you must still report any accident to your insurance immediately. Please never ever, sign a release from an insurance company without consulting with an attorney. You don’t know if your insurance will cover all your injuries and any property damage that you’ve sustained. If sign a release, you forgo any future law suit and may be short changing yourself. As a driver in Florida you are responsible for carrying car insurance with:

  • A minimum of $10,000 For personal injury protection (PIP)
  • A minimum of $10,000 For property damage liability (PDL)
  • this pays for non-property related costs (e.g. personal injury, lost wages)

Statute of Limitations

When you’re injured in a car accident or have suffered property damages because the other driver was negligent, Florida’s auto accident law clearly states that you have up to four years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. If you get into an accident with a government entity (e.g. a city bus), you must file a 6 month notice of intent to make a claim before you can make a claim.

Comparative Fault Rules

There are times when both you and the other driver may be found partially at fault. Even if are partially at fault, you may still be able to make a claim. Each situation is different so it is important to consult with an attorney as soon as possible after the crash. Evidence needs to be preserved and witness statements taken.

How Accident Settlement Amounts are Determined

When your injury claim is made there are a variety of factors that are taken into consideration to determine case value. Some of the items that are considered include:

  • The severity of your injuries
  • The cost of the medical care for said injuries
  • If you have lost wages or will do so in the future
  • How much of the fault is yours
  • The amount of the insurance coverage
  • How much evidence you can provide in support of your case
  • Impact size
  • Whether you’ve been in prior accidents and have been injured.

How to get Help When You’re in an Accident

When you’re involved in an accident the first number you should call is 911. They’ll help you get your car towed, take anyone who’s injured to the hospital, and allow you to calmly exchange information with the other driver. Your next call should be to the professionals at the Rojas’ Law Group. Attorney Rojas experience with the Florida’s auto accident laws will enable you to move smoothly through what could otherwise be a very troubling process.
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A new program has been implemented in Florida for drivers that break the texting law while driving in Florida. Under this program, fines will be waived and points will be removed from the license as long as a remedial class is taken. This program started on July 1, but there are hopes that it will help make law enforcement even stronger when it comes to texting while driving.

This new driving and texting law is tougher than the past law, which was enacted in 2018. Under the old law, texting while driving was only listed as a secondary offense, so a ticket could only be issued if the driver had been pulled over for another cause, such as speeding. This year, texting while driving in Florida was made a primary offense. School safety zones are listed now as hand- free zones. This means if a driver is just holding a cell phone, they can receive a ticket. Another hands- free zone will be active construction zones. In order to be classified as active, the construction zone will need to have workers completing the construction work at that time.

Anyone driving will still be allowed to use their cell phones. However, the only way around it will be to use some sort of hands-free device or technology. Under this law, drivers will be permitted to pick up their cell phone once the car has come to a complete stop, such as when the light is red. If traffic on the interstate has stopped completely, a cell phone may then be picked up by the driver.

Florida Highway Patrol troopers have given 542 tickets for texting while driving, according to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. There have most likely been many warnings that have been issued as well. These tickets have been given since the law passed on July 1. For a first offense, a $30 ticket may be issued, but then there are court costs that are associated with this. That may bump the ticket up to well over $105. A second offense will result in a $60 fine, with court costs as well.

This new program does have guidelines that must be followed on who can enroll in the texting while driving program. A motorist who has received a ticket for $60 in fines for not utilizing the hands free zones in schools can be enrolled. Once completed, all points related to the driving and texting ticket, along with the fines, will be removed.

There could be some tough enforcement on this program. Those motorists that are given tickets can avoid the penalties by completing the program. This could make law enforcement officers give fewer warnings and write motorists more tickets.

This program was voted on unanimously. Under the texting law in Florida, a person can not type any message, nor may it be sent while driving. The driver may also not read any messages that anyone has sent them a text message either. This also holds true for email messages, instant messaging, and social media page posts, comments, and messages.

If you have been a victim of a driver who was using a cell phone while driving, you may want to consider hiring an attorney to assist you in this matter. The best professional attorneys, such as Rojas Law Group, will be on your side and help you with every aspect of your claim.

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Almost daily the question is posed by someone: “Do I need a car accident attorney?” The quick answer is there are certain times when you definitely will.

There’s Been Serious Injury, or Someone has Died in the Accident

If a person was seriously injured or killed in the accident, you need to immediately contact an experienced lawyer. These types of accidents can result in complicated lawsuits or you may even need to file a lawsuit of your own to recoup the cost of your injuries’ medical treatment. Regardless which side of the law you’re on, the court will need to consider all the complex issues that are involved to determine the amount of the settlement. Since this could be quite costly you don’t want to represent yourself. Your car accident attorney will know what is fair and be able to guide you through this process. This typically begins with a free consultation so you don’t initially have to worry about consulting with an attorney

You Need Ongoing Care so You Can’t Work

When you’re injured so badly you can’t return to work afterwards a lawyer ensures that you receive the maximum compensation possible. It’s their job to calculate the amount of compensation to which you’re entitled. As they do so they’ll take into account any time you’ve missed from work, as well as how much your medical treatment will cost both now and in the future.

More Than one Person was Injured

Accidents involving three or more vehicles, pedestrians, property, or commercial entities complicates your insurance claim’s settlement and negotiation process and may result in several lawsuits. When you’re injured in this type of accident you should contact a lawyer immediately to discuss your case. They’ll help you fight for the compensation you deserve while keeping your liability to the minimum. They’re also responsible for communicating with the other parties’ attorneys as well as all insurance companies involved – something that can save you a huge headache.

There was an Uninsured Motorist Involved

If anyone didn’t have insurance at the time of the accident, it’s important to get a car accident attorney immediately. Motorists are required to have insurance to pay for any accident they may cause while driving. Unfortunately, not everyone obeys the law and when this happens your lawyer will help you evaluate your options and, if necessary, file a civil lawsuit to recover your monetary damages.

Evidence Concerning the Accident Needs to be Collected

When you’re injured in a car accident a lawyer can help you collect and analyze evidence to show who’s at fault and the monetary amount of the damages that occurred. If you’re driving a newer vehicle this is easier because they’ll typically contain a “black box” that records critical information when an accident occurs. This information can be used to establish how fast your vehicle was moving during the time of the accident and if you’re wearing your seatbelt. To access the other driver’s black box you’ll need a court order.

There are Upcoming Settlement Talks

Typically, a car accident lawsuit is settled before going to trial. This means you’ll receive a settlement from the driver who’s at fault. Unfortunately, this is usually an unreasonably low amount of money. You don’t have to settle for anything that isn’t fair because if you do, you’ll give up your rights. This is why it’s important to understand the extent of your damages and injuries before you engage in any negotiations. This is where an experienced car accident attorney can oftentimes get you a more favorable settlement.

When you find yourself in need of a car accident attorney in Tampa, FL make sure you reach out to the Rojas Law Group. They have the experience you need on your side.

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