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Snapchat Responsible for Car Accidents and Personal Injury Lawsuits
Snapchat Responsible for Car Accidents and Personal Injury Lawsuits 150 150 admin

How does Snapchat contribute to danger on the road?

Across the country, personal injury attorneys are beginning to ask their clients if the car accidents in which they were injured may have involved Snapchat. Press releases and blogs are increasingly pointing out the dangers of the app’s speed filter feature which tracks how fast an individual is traveling while taking a selfie. What makes Snapchat photos even more dangerous than other electronic images is that Snapchat photos and videos disappear immediately after viewing, so they demand immediate and complete concentration.

If you are driving and view a Snapchat picture, you are momentarily completely distracted, and, we all know (or should know) it takes only a moment for a serious accident to occur, one in which drivers or pedestrians suffer severe injuries or wrongful death.

Only a few weeks ago, a Georgia resident sued Snapchat and the young driver viewing the device for a car crash that left him with serious brain injuries. Apparently, the driver of the car responsible for the crash, a young woman, eager to use the speed filter feature, was using Snapchat while she was speeding at over 100 mph. During her “momentary” distraction, her car crashed into the victim’s Mitsubishi, resulting in his brain trauma.

To make a tragic situation even worse, the driver at fault in this accident seems to have had only minimal car insurances ($25,000.), hardly enough to cover the medical costs of the injured party. This is part of the reason for the lawsuit against Snapchat, a firm that clearly has deeper pockets than the woman responsible for the crash.

Although Snapchat is not making any comment directly concerning the lawsuit, it has issued the following comment: “No Snap is more important than someone’s safety. We actively discourage our community from using the speed filter while driving, including by displaying a ‘Do NOT Snap and Drive’ warning message in the app itself.”

If you have been injured in a vehicular accident caused by distracted driving, or if you have suffered any injury as a result of the negligence or malice of another person, your first priority should, of course, be receiving medical attention. As soon as possible after that, you should consult with a skilled and experienced personal injury attorney to determine your best options moving forward.

The Deceptive Practices of Auto Lenders
The Deceptive Practices of Auto Lenders 150 150 admin

What is being done to protect consumers from unscrupulous auto lenders?

For many individuals and families, having a car is essential to holding a job, making a living, and taking care of their responsibilities. In most cases, having a safe and reliable car requires obtaining financing from an auto lender, but many consumers become the targets of unfair and deceptive practices which are prohibited by state and federal laws.

Recently, the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued separate reports regarding apparent deceptive the practices of auto lenders and complaints made to the bureau about leasing and lending practices .

The consumer watchdog found that advertisements by some lenders for GAP coverage, as well as disclosures regarding payment deferral terms, were deceptive. GAP coverage is designed to cover the remaining balance on an auto loan if a car is totaled, however this coverage typically has loan-to-value limit. While that limit it typically high, the lenders under review did not mention these limits in its advertising. With respect to the loan payment deferral options lenders uses as an inducement for consumers to buy an automobile, the disclosures did not accurately reflect that finance charges would ultimately be higher.

Complaints About Auto Lenders are Common

While the CFPB has yet to identify the lenders in question, they are probing the alleged violations and determining whether these lenders will be required to take corrective action. The bureau also reported that 60 percent of consumer loan complaints in the past five years concerned the auto lending industry, including loan, lease and title complaints.

Borrowers frequently reported having issues with managing and paying loans and leases, which was caused, in part, by failing to understand how fees and high interest rates effect the total cost of these financings. In addition, consumers often complained about payment processing issues, including payments not being applied in a timely manner. The bureau also found that lenders often neglected to address consumer complaints and align their business practices with federal consumer law.

While the CFPB has its eye on the deceptive practices of auto lenders, consumers in Texas are also protected by the Deceptive Trade Practices Act. If you suffered a financial injury because of the false, misleading or deceptive practices of a consumer lender in the state, should you contact an experienced consumer law attorney to explore your options.

Talk to a Car Accident Lawyer After a Wreck with a Texting Driver
Talk to a Car Accident Lawyer After a Wreck with a Texting Driver 150 150 admin

Many of us have been guilty of it. We’re heading down the highway at 70 mph, and our phone dings — a text. We know that we shouldn’t, but what if it’s work (or the kids, our significant other or the babysitter)? So we grab the phone, glance down at it quickly, then back up at the road. Maybe we shoot off a quick answer; even a short “yes,” “no” or “LOL.” If we are lucky, nothing terrible results.

But to read or send a text, a driver looks away from the road for five seconds on average. At just 55 mph, vehicles can travel the entire length of one football field in that short span of time. At highway speeds of 70 mph, they can go even farther. A lot of things can go wrong in that time and distance when a driver is preoccupied with texting.

When luck runs out

In a twist of terrible irony last year, one North Carolina driver died only seconds after posting on Facebook

“The happy song makes me HAPPY,” 

an apparent reference to the Pharrell song dominating the airwaves in 2014. While the woman had not technically been texting, she certainly was preoccupied with things other than driving; in addition to the Facebook status that became her tragic epitaph, she had also been taking selfies while driving.

According to a study done by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, those engaged in texting behind the wheel have three times the risk of wrecking. But the researchers are not alone in their conclusions. Studies done for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety indicated that the likelihood of causing a rear-end collision or near-miss is five times greater for texting drivers.

Who are the worst offenders?

Research conducted online last year from drivers all over America indicated that the worst culprits were those aged 19-39. More drivers from those groups admitted to sending or reading at least one text in the previous month while driving when compared with rates for older drivers.

An aggregate analysis of 28 separate research experiments using both instrument-implemented vehicles and driving simulators found the act of reading or responding to a text message:

  • Increased the amount of time drivers’ eye were off the road
  • Reduced reaction time
  • Made lane deviations more likely

The problem is rooted in the manner in which drivers are scanning and processing information while driving. Punching buttons and manipulating smartphones to read and send texts requires drivers to divert attention from the highway. In one test, researchers used brain imaging techniques with volunteers on simulated vehicles. The results were shocking — brain activity related to driving was reduced 37 percent due to cognitive distractions from interacting with their cell phones. Basically, when our brains are engaged in texting behaviors and even phone conversations behind the wheel, we can look right at something while driving and fail to process the information or comprehend what we see. The results can be deadly. 

Texas laws for texting and driving

At present time, it is only against the law for novice drivers to text while driving in Texas. Additionally, school bus drivers can’t use their cell phones with children aboard, and no drivers are permitted to use hand-held devices for any purpose in school zones.

However, numerous cities passed ordinances prohibiting texting behind the wheel. Austin was the first to take action, enacting a ban on all texting for drivers back in November of 2009. In the ensuing years, according to the Texas Department of Transportation, there are now 40 different jurisdictions in the state where texting while driving is illegal. But the jury is still out on whether or not bans on texting and use of hand-held cell phones while driving reduces wrecks. One study from 2009 found banning didn’t decrease the claim rates to insurance companies for collisions. While the reasons for this are not completely clear, driver non-compliance is likely a factor.

The damage it does

Nobody plans to end their life by posting a silly Facebook status, responding “LOL” to a texted meme or being otherwise distracted by an electronic device. Neither does anyone want to be the one to make parents grieve after a texting driver plows into a school bus full of kids or causes a family of children to be orphaned when their parents are killed in a head-on collision.

Even when the results aren’t quite that tragic, if a texting driver collides with your vehicle, it is likely that you will suffer injuries. Most certainly you will sustain property damage to your vehicle; it could even be totaled. Consider how you will meet all of your work and familial obligations without a car. Along with mounting medical and rehabilitative bills and associated expenses, it can be a real nightmare.

It’s likely the at-fault driver’s insurance company will offer to rent you a car for a few days or weeks and then make some sort of settlement offer shortly after your wreck. They are counting on your eagerness to resolve the matter and walk away with a few dollars and a repaired or replaced vehicle. But there are some caveats involved in being too quick to settle when the accident is clearly no fault of your own.

Why hiring a Texas car accident makes a lot of sense

You may be discharged by the doctor with a clean bill of health, yet find that those injuries that were assumed were resolved really were not. Here are some things to consider:

  • Will your injured back and legs give you the support and stamina you need to host and prepare the upcoming holiday meals?
  • What about all the raking, pruning and other seasonal yard work that needs to be done? Will your injuries allow you to complete these tasks, or will you have to shell out money to someone else now?
  • Can you still cut down, carry and set up a holiday tree, gather decorations from the attic, bring them down and hang them up?
  • Can you still toss your young children or grandchildren joyfully up into the air and then catch them, enjoying their giggles and pleas to “Do it again!”

Being too quick to accept a settlement check means that you can’t really be sure that you are still able to do all of your normal tasks and participate fully in family life and recreational activities as you did before. It is not a wise decision to accept the first low-ball offer that comes, as once you sign and cash that check, the insurance company’s liability to you for your injuries and damages ends.

At Chandler, Mathis & Zivley, we take great pride in working hard for our clients. We battle insurance companies all the time to get the most for our clients. When you are looking for a Texas car accident lawyer, give us a call.

 
Sources:

http://www.vtti.vt.edu/featured/?p=193

https://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/distracted-driving/qanda

http://www.txdot.gov/driver/laws/cellphones.html

Age and Car Accidents: Are They Related?
Age and Car Accidents: Are They Related? 150 150 admin

Car accidents are unfortunately one of the leading causes of death in the United States. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports that the highest rates of crashes by population occur when the drivers are between the ages of 16 and 17. The rate of crashes then decreases until about age 60 to 69, then tapers off.

Based on total numbers of miles, younger drivers also consistently have the highest rates of crashes per miles driven as well. As drivers get older—over 65 and beyond—this number increases as well, but never back to teen-driver levels. Based on these statistics, it is clear that age and the likelihood of being involved in a car accident are certainly correlated.

Teen Driver Statistics

In 2015, there were 2,333 teens in the U.S. between the ages of 16 and 19 who were killed in car accidents. Another 221,313 were treated in emergency rooms for injuries suffered due to a car crash in 2014. In 2013, those between the ages of 15 and 19 accounted for roughly 7% of the population, but they caused or contributed to $10 billion in motor vehicle injuries, or 11% of all injury costs.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, male teens are twice as likely to be in motor vehicle accidents compared to females of similar ages. The crash rate per mile driven is also three times higher for those between the ages of 16 and 17 compared to 18 to 19 year-olds.

Having passengers in the vehicle also increases the crash risk as well. As the number of teen passengers increases, and so does the likelihood that the vehicle will be involved in a collision.

Keeping Younger Drivers Safe

Many of the tips and tricks to keep teen drivers safe are the same as those keeping adult drivers safe. However, teen drivers may need to some extra emphasis on these safety tips because they have not yet developed good habits when it comes to safe driving. If you are a parent, friend, or acquaintance, help younger drivers by encouraging safe driving habits.

  • Always wear your seatbelt every time you get in the car and encourage all passengers to do the same.
  • Never drink and drive or drive while you are drowsy or otherwise impaired.
  • Keep your focus on the road; avoid texting, calling, or using your smart phone while you drive.
  • Set navigation and music preferences before you begin to drive.
  • Always follow the rules of the road carefully and do not engage in reckless or risky driving behaviors such as sudden stopping, tight turns, or quick acceleration.
  • Do not speed. Slow down on curves and in construction zones.
  •  Be sure that all of the necessary functions of the vehicle are working properly, including turn signals, brakes, headlights, and windshield wipers.

Night time driving can be particularly challenging for teens, so take extra precautions after dusk. Your teen should also avoid driving with passengers until he or she is more experienced and comfortable behind the wheel.

If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident, you may have a legal claim. Our team can discuss your options with you. Contact us today.

Texas Lawmakers May Soon Eliminate Local Texting Laws
Texas Lawmakers May Soon Eliminate Local Texting Laws 150 150 admin

Is it illegal to text and drive in Texas?

While most other states have had a ban on texting and driving in place for years, Texas has just recently adopted such a measure.  Texting while driving is known to be incredibly dangerous, not just for the texting driver, but for all other road users as well.  According to the National Safety Council, an estimated 1,600,000 accidents are caused by texting each year, resulting in over 330,000 injuries and thousands of deaths.  Texting while driving makes you 23 times more likely to crash.  Yet despite widespread knowledge of the dangers of distracted driving, drivers of all ages continue to engage in this hazardous behavior.  Recognizing the need for increased regulations to prevent distracted driving car accidents, Texas lawmakers are taking action.  

Texas’ Texting While Driving Ban

Governor Greg Abbott recently signed a ban into law that would make texting while driving illegal.  It would result in a fine of up to $99 for first time offenders and $200 for repeat offenses.  With passage of the law, now only three states in the country are without a texting while driving ban.  The law specifically makes it illegal for drivers to read, write, or send electronic messages while driving.  However, the law left unclear the fate of dozens of city laws relating to distracted driving.  Several cities in Texas already have laws in place banning texting.

Now, the Texas senate has given tentative approval to a law that would pre-empt all local ordinances concerning driver’s cell phone use.  With this measure in place, Texas would have one uniform law that makes it illegal for drivers to text and drive.  Opponents to the bill are calling for a stronger statewide law, if indeed the more stringent city laws are to be eliminated.  The bill will now head to the House for final approval.  

Texas’ new texting while driving law will hopefully make drivers think twice about picking up their phones while behind the wheel.  Anyone who has been injured by a suspected texting driver should contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible to explore their legal options.  Drivers injured by distracted drivers could be eligible to receive compensation for their medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.  

Dangers of Eating While Driving
Dangers of Eating While Driving 150 150 admin

Is it illegal to eat and drive in Texas?

Eating while driving is an often unrecognized danger for drivers across Texas and the rest of the nation. While most of us realize that texting and driving is illegal and hazardous, we may not be aware that we can put ourselves and others in immense danger by attempting to eat and drive.  Distracted driving is said to be the cause of about a quarter of all car accidents, but many believe the true figure is far higher due to difficulties in identifying distracted drivers.  Before you eat while driving again, take a look at some frightening facts about eating and driving below.  If you or a loved one is injured in a distracted driving car accident, contact our Texas personal injury attorneys at Chandler, Mathis & Zivley for experienced legal assistance.    

Eating While Driving Statistics

Several recent studies have investigated the potential dangers of eating while driving.  According to a Lytex study, drivers that eat or drink behind the wheel are 3.6 times more likely to be in a car crash.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that driving and eating increases the likelihood of an accident by 80 percent.  Despite these dangers, 70 percent of drivers admitted to eating while driving in an Exxon Mobil survey, and even more drink beverages when on the road.  

The dangers of eating and drinking while driving lie in the extensive level of distraction these behaviors cause.  Eating and driving typically incorporates a combination of all three levels of distraction: visual distraction, manual distraction, and cognitive distraction.  Visual distraction happens when the driver’s eyes are diverted from the road, which could include looking down to open a wrapper.  Manual distraction occurs when drivers take their hands off the road, such as to hold a food item.  Lastly, cognitive distractions take a driver’s mind and focus off the road, which can happen when a driver focuses on their meal instead of the road.  

To avoid the dangers of eating while driving, it is imperative that you wait to eat or eat before leaving your house.  Pull over to eat if you must eat on the road. With some planning, you can ensure that you do not become a distracted driver.  

Preserving Your Claim After a Car Accident
Preserving Your Claim After a Car Accident 150 150 admin

If you have been involved in a car crash that was the fault of someone else, you may be able to obtain compensation for your losses related to the accident. However, getting compensated for your damages or losses is not automatic. You must present and prove your case to show the court (or an insurance company) that you are entitled to relief. This process can take considerable time and effort, and failing to show just one element of your claim can completely undermine your case.

It is critical to take the time to collect evidence and information regarding your accident as soon as you can after the collision occurs. The data you gather (with the help of your auto accident attorney) will allow you to present the best possible case that you can. It is a good idea to take the following steps to help preserve your claim after a car accident.

Information to Gather at the Scene

In severe accidents, you may not be able to collect much information at all after the collision occurs. You should always be sure to take care of yourself from a medical standpoint before worrying about your legal claim—your health and safety are the top priorities.

If you can, however, you should spend some time gathering evidence from the scene of the accident.

Photograph the Scene. Using a camera or phone, take photos of the site, including the road where the accident occurred, pictures of the vehicles involved, and any damage that may have occurred. Pictures of your visible injuries may also be a good idea. Be sure to have some method of indicating when you took the photos, whether you have a date on them or you write it down somewhere else.

Talk to Witnesses. Witnesses that have seen or even heard the accident can be very helpful for your case. If possible, speak with witnesses to see what they experienced from the crash. Be sure to also get their name and contact information as well.

Involve the Police

Having the police at the scene can be helpful for a variety of reasons. If the other person did something that may have been a violation of the law, involving the police may result in a citation for the other driver.

The police also provide an unbiased opinion about what happened after listening to both sides of the story. The police will document what they know about the accident in the police report. This report will also contain information about the other driver, his or her insurance company, and information about any witnesses.

Get Medical Attention

Even if your accident was relatively minor, it is a good idea to seek medical attention after an accident. Getting medical help right away can create helpful documentation regarding causation for your injuries.

Some insurance companies assume that you are not seriously injured if you do not seek medical attention. Be sure to also take care to follow the doctor’s orders as closely as possible. If you have restrictions on your activities, you should follow those restrictions to the letter.

Involve an Attorney

One of the best ways that you can prepare your case is by involving a personal injury attorney. Your lawyer will be able to help you build your case so you can present it in the best light possible to an insurance company or a judge or jury. CMZLaw can help. Contact us today!

 

Head Injuries in Car Accidents
Head Injuries in Car Accidents 150 150 admin

Car accidents commonly cause head injuries. These injuries can range in severity from extremely minor to those that may even result in death. In fact, more than half of all reported traumatic brain injuries are the result of an auto accident. Any time there is a strong force imposed against the skull, whether that is from an object striking the skull or from a sudden stop, it can result in a debilitating head injury.

Head injuries can occur even when the victim does not have an open wound. The brain can be forced into the skull, resulting in brain bruising and bleeding. These injuries can be tough to detect, but they can be life-threatening. If you suspect anyone has a head injury after a car accident, it is essential to seek medical attention right away.

Causes of Head Injuries in a Car Accident

Car crashes are dangerous. Causes of a head injury will vary depending on the type of accident.

  • Penetration Injuries. When an object pierces the skull, it can result in brain damage. The object can impact the brain or even penetrate the brain, causing bleeding and long-term nerve damage.
  • Force Injuries. The force of suddenly stopping can cause damage to the brain when it hits the front and back of the skull.
  • Injuries Caused by Objects. Flying objects or people in the car can hit your skull hard enough to result in a head injury. Drivers and passengers often hit their heads against the steering wheel or dashboard, resulting in a force-related injury.

Side Effects of a Head Injury

You do not have to lose consciousness to have a head injury. In fact, damage to the brain or skull may be hard to detect. If you have any of the following symptoms, you or your passengers should seek medical attention for a head injury.

  • Slowed response times
  • Difficulty thinking or concentrating
  • Headaches
  • Sensitivity to light or sounds
  • Trouble with balance or coordination
  • Nausea
  • Feelings of fatigue
  • Abnormal feelings of alertness
  • Moodiness or unnatural emotional reactions

Extremely severe head injuries may also have the following symptoms.

  • Seizures
  • Periods of unconsciousness
  • Numbness in the arms or legs
  • Confusion
  • Dilated pupils
  • Aggression

Severe head injuries can result in additional health problems. Seek medical attention immediately.

Keep in mind that symptoms of a head injury may not appear immediately after an accident. In fact, it can take hours, days, or even weeks after the crash to notice a head injury. It is always a good idea to get a full physical after a car crash, even if you think you only have minor injuries.

Recovering from a Head Injury

The recovery timeline for a head injury will vary a great deal depending on the severity of the injury and the individual. For example, younger adults will usually recover faster than older adults.

Those who suffer from a severe traumatic brain injury may see residual effects from the injury even years after they have made an otherwise full recovery. On the other hand, less severe injuries may only take a few days to weeks to heal completely.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident that resulted in a head injury, you may be entitled to compensation. Our team can help you determine whether asserting a legal claim is in your best interest. Call today for more information.

 

Texting While Driving Law Change in Texas
Texting While Driving Law Change in Texas 150 150 admin

Q: Will the new texting while driving law reduce accidents and personal injury claims?

Texas car accidents can be caused by a number of factors including driving while intoxicated, speeding, aggressive driving, weather conditions, mechanical defects, and more.

Car accidents caused by a driver’s negligent, reckless, or intentional actions or inactions often leave seriously injured, disabled, or dead victims in their wake and are often the basis of a personal injury lawsuit or a wrongful death action.

Once liability is established, car accident victims may be entitled to compensatory damages including past and future medical bills for treatment or rehabilitation, past and future mental anguish and physical pain, Physical impairment or disfigurement, past and future loss of income and loss of earning capacity. If the victim dies from their injuries, their closest surviving family members may be entitled to damages as well through a wrongful death lawsuit, but who has standing to sue and the type of damages they can recover differs on a case-by-case basis so consulting a skilled personal injury attorney is advised.

Another common cause of motor vehicle accidents is distracted driving. And one of the biggest distractions is texting while driving.

In an effort to discourage texting while driving, new legislation went into effect on September 1, 2017. The new law, reportedly described by its own co-author as “something is better than nothing” has its share of loopholes.

According to the law, drivers are reportedly permitted to:

  • make and receive phone calls in accordance with local laws
  • use navigation applications
  • use music applications.

Reported ambiguities surround the unaddressed use of “internet browsers, search functions, gaming, or other phone applications, although “the use of messaging and communications applications like Facebook, Facebook Messenger and Twitter appear to be prohibited”.

With respect to texting while driving, the new law offers reportedly some exemptions including:

  • texting during emergency situations (though it doesn’t define what constitutes an “emergency”)
  • workers texting the office so long as their phones are mounted
  • on-duty emergency vehicle operators are exempt
  • on-duty law enforcement vehicle operators are exempt
  • hands free texting is allowed.

These loophole defenses, coupled with the mandate that ticketing officers “must not only witness offenders using their phones, but identify that the activity is specifically texting” will make the new law difficult to enforce.

Of course, the safest way to avoid being distracted or being accused of causing a motor vehicle accident is to avoid cell phone distractions entirely.

If you or a loved one has been injured or a loved one has been killed in a motor vehicle accident due to someone else’s negligence, the lawyers at Chandler, Mathis, and Zivley, PC will investigate your case and take legal action to help you obtain the maximum compensation to which you are entitled. Contact our office for a free consultation.

From our offices in Houston and Lufkin, we’ve been serving clients throughout Texas as well as many other states for over 40 years.

 

Common Car Accident Injuries: Fractures
Common Car Accident Injuries: Fractures 150 150 admin

What are the most common types of broken bones you could sustain in a car accident?

Millions of Americans will be involved in car accidents in the coming year.  Broken bones are one of the most common car accident injuries due to the immense force involved in the collision.  Fractures can be extremely painful and could even require surgery, potentially leading to lengthy recovery times and the inability to return to work.  Car accident victims who sustain a broken bone will require immediate treatment. Accident victims injured due to the negligence of another driver may be able to seek compensation for their fracture injuries through a personal injury lawsuit.  

What is a Fracture?

A fracture is defined as any break within any bone of the body.  Fractures vary in severity, with some simple fractures healing with relative ease, whereas compound fractures, which involve the broken bone piercing the skin, carry a risk of infection and longer recovery times.  Car accidents are a leading cause of broken bones, but fractures can also occur as a result of falls, sports injuries, and other high impact events.  

Common Types of Fractures

Car accidents inflict tremendous force on the body, creating the immense potential for broken bones, particularly in the following parts of the body:

  1. Leg fractures:  There are three bones within your legs that could be broken in an accident.  The femur or thigh bone, is quite strong but could break in a serious car accident.  Femur breaks will have a long recovery time.  Your tibia and fibula are also at risk of injury if your vehicle crumples in the accident.
  2. Facial fractures:  If you are ejected from the vehicle in an accident or your head hits the dash, there are several bones within your face that could break.  Facial fractures can lead to disfigurement.
  3. Spine fractures:  The tiny vertebrae bones within your back could break in an accident.  When a vertebra breaks, it is extremely dangerous because it could damage the spinal cord, leading potentially to paralysis.

Car accident victims who sustain a broken bone in the collision should contact an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible after the crash to protect their legal rights.  

 

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