Console & Hollawell Blog

6 Tips You Must Follow to Stay Safe on a Motorcycle

By Richard Console on May 5, 2015 - Comments off

When you’re on your bike, enjoying the freedom of riding out in the open, you’re also completely unprotected in case of a crash. What might be a minor, injury-free fender-bender between two cars can cause serious damage when one of the vehicles involved is a motorcycle. Whether your body collides with the other vehicle or the ground, the impact can be devastating.

BikerIt’s Motorcycle Safety Month, and that means a fresh chance for everyone on the road – whether they’re riding on two wheels or four – to review the best ways to avoid crashes. Photo Credit: Traffic Safety Marketing.

Check out our top six safety tips for motorcyclists.

1. Watch your speed.

When you speed, you cut down the amount of time you have to recognize and react to a threat on the road. Excessive speed contributed to two-thirds of single-motorcycle accidents, probably because driving at unsafe speeds means that you will take longer to stop or slow down for changing road conditions (like curves in the roadway or flooding on the road’s surface), traffic signals, and unexpected obstacles. When you ride at the legal speed, you have more control over your bike – which translates to more control over your accident risk.

2. Don’t drink and ride.

Ride sober

Flesh being torn from your limbs? Bones snapping like twigs? The risks of riding impaired are definitely not worth it. Photo Credit: TSM.

We’ve all heard of biker bars, but hold off on that drink – statistics show that alcohol and motorcycles really shouldn’t mix. Overindulgence in alcohol can dramatically decrease your balance and coordination, two of the most necessary skills for motorcyclists to ride safely, according to the federal Traffic Safety Marketing site. Alcohol contributes to more than one-quarter of all fatal motorcycle collisions and 43 percent of those involving a single vehicle. On weekends, alcohol is a factor in 64 percent of single motorcycle crashes that kill the riders.

3. Use extra care at curves and intersections.

Not every section of the roadway is equally dangerous for bikers. Don’t take curves to sharply or too fast – there’s a reason 40 percent of single motorcycle wrecks happen on turns and corners. Be sure to watch out for other vehicles especially at intersections, where more than half of the crashes involving both motorcycles and cars take place.

4. Know what you’re doing.

One of the best ways to stay safe on your motorcycle is to know your bike – and how to ride it – well. About 22 percent of motorcyclists killed in accidents don’t have a motorcycle endorsement on their licenses, and 90 percent of all riders involved in collisions have no formal training whatsoever. Whether it’s your first time or your thousandth time on a bike, learn how to safely operate a bike with a course from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.

5. Assume you’re invisible.

In a perfect world, motorcyclists could expect drivers of cars, trucks, and buses to actually share the road with them, like the law requires. In the real world, though, there are countless dangerously distracted drivers on the road – drivers who, unfortunately, won’t bother to “look twice and save a life.” Even though you have just as much legal right to use the roadway as anyone else, never assume that drivers will see you – if they don’t, as happens in two-thirds of motorcycle-car crashes, you could wind up permanently hurt. Practice defensive driving techniques and keep your attention on the road at all times. You can’t control the actions of the drivers around you, but at least you can put yourself in the best position to attempt to avoid someone else’s reckless behavior.

6. Wear a helmet.

Motorcycle helmetThe chin bar of this helmet sustained visible damage when it hit the roadway at 45 miles per hour. Without it, the rider’s face could have suffered serious injuries. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Sometimes nothing you personally do – avoiding alcohol, slowing down, driving defensively – is enough to prevent a collision. Another driver on the roadway might make a careless maneuver that leaves you no time to get out of the way. No matter how safe a rider you are, it’s essential that you prepare for the worst-case scenario by wearing protective gear, particularly a helmet. Modern helmets result in little, if any, significant interference with riders’ ability to see and hear, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Motorcyclists can easily make up for the small amount of vision obstructed by wearing a helmet simply by turning their heads a little farther to the side before changing lanes, so don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re better off without a helmet – you’re not.

Staying safe on a motorcycle means doing everything you possibly can to prevent accidents from happening in the first place – and, of course, wearing the right protective gear just in case one does. It’s everyone’s responsibility to share the road safely. When motorcyclists and drivers make smart choices, everyone’s trip gets a little bit safer – sometimes a lot safer.


5 Things Drivers Must Do to Keep Motorcyclists Safe

By Richard Console on May 4, 2015 - Comments off

With the weather finally turning warm after what was a brutally cold winter and a largely chilly spring, motorcycle season is in full swing. Dozens of motorcycles appeared on highways, back roads, and city streets this past weekend. Even more motorcyclists will be out and about as summer nears.

While we’re sure to see more motorcycles on the road in the coming weeks, the question of how many drivers will actually see them – that is, notice them and share the road with them as the law requires – is an important one. In about two-thirds of all crashes between motorcycles and other vehicles, car drivers “didn’t see” the motorcyclists, according to the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety.

In honor of Motorcycle Safety Month, let’s talk about the top five things we drivers can do to make the roads safer for bikers all year long.

BikerBikers have the same road privileges as drivers, and they deserve a safe environment for riding. Photo Credit: Traffic Safety Marketing (TSM).

1. Share the road

Find the motorcycleBecause they’re smaller than cars, it can be difficult to spot a motorcycle right away on a busy road – but it’s still your responsibility as a driver to see and avoid them. Photo Credit: TSM.

In the majority of crashes involving motorcycles and another vehicle, the car or truck driver claimed he or she “didn’t see” the motorcyclist. Bikers have just as much right to use the road as operators of passenger cars and commercial trucks. Sharing the road with them isn’t just courteous, it’s the law. There’s a reason for the saying “look twice – save a life.” When you know it’s the kind of weather that brings bikers out in droves, use extra caution and make sure that if there’s a motorcycle in your path, you see it – and react to it – before a collision occurs.

2. Never drive distracted

This is a good rule of thumb to follow even without motorcycles in the equation. Every year, distracted driving contributes to thousands of deaths and hundreds of thousands of injuries across the country. Driver distraction is a main reason that drivers don’t see motorcyclists. You can’t share the road with someone you don’t know is on it, and you can’t know who’s around you if you won’t tear your gaze away from the cell phone, newspaper, take-out meal, or sun visor mirror. Remember, when you’re behind the wheel, your primary focus shouldn’t be texting, making a phone call, eating, grooming, reading, or adjusting the radio – it should be on driving safely to your destination, without putting yourself or anyone else in harm’s way.

3. No, you can’t cut in

When I say “share the road,” I mean that figuratively – never try to literally occupy the same road space as a motorcycle. Yes, bikes are smaller than cars, but not small enough that you can ride side-by-side with one in a single-width lane. Always give a motorcyclist the full width of the lane they’re riding in, and leave plenty of space – at least three to four extra seconds more than you would leave a car – when following a bike.

4. Check your blind spot

Motorcycle in the mirrorIf you do see a motorcycle in your mirror, keep in mind that its small size can make it hard for you to gauge speed and proximity – and, yes, that bikers are more vulnerable in crashes than you are. Photo Credit: TSM.

If your blind spot is big enough that it’s hard to see a full-sized car in your mirrors, you can be sure that it’s big enough to hide a much smaller motorcycle. Always physically turn and check your blind spot before you attempt to change lanes. This is one instance in which looking twice really can save a life.

5. Pay attention to turn signals – but not too much attention

Turn signals show others on the roadway what your intentions are. Without them, other drivers could easily misinterpret your plans and cut you off, rear end your car, or otherwise find themselves on a collision course with you. Always use your turn signals when you’re turning, merging, or changing lanes – particularly when the weather is nice and motorcyclists, who might be hard to spot, are sharing the roads with you. However, be careful relying on other people’s turn signals, especially motorcyclists’. Unlike many cars, motorcycles often don’t have self-canceling turn signals, so they might not turn off instantly when they are no longer necessary. Don’t take hasty actions based on a motorcycle’s turn signal – wait until you are sure that the turn signal is intentional and the biker actually is turning or changing lanes.

Even for those of us traveling on four (or more) wheels, motorcycle safety matters. Some of us ride motorcycles in our spare time or have loved ones who ride. All of us benefit from safer roadways and fewer collisions. Despite things like traffic congestion, the roads really are big enough for all of us to share – we just have to learn the simple tips that allow us to do so safely.


Cancer behind the Numbers

By Richard Console on April 30, 2015 - Comments off

Like it or not, a large part of how we understand cancer is numerical. We quantify cancer prevalence through statistics and patients’ prognoses through percentage-based survival rates. Even to describe the severity of a cancer’s progression, we use numbered stages.

There’s a lot we can learn about cancer risk, diagnosis and misdiagnosis, treatment, and prevention by looking at the numbers.

Cancer By the Numbers infographic

Cancer beyond the Statistics

Despite all the information that cancer statistics give us – some of it devastating, like the annual diagnosis and death rates, and some of it hopeful, like the rising survival rate and the number of cancer cases attributed to preventable lifestyle factors – there’s more to the story.

Throughout Cancer Control Month, we’ve talked a lot about the disease – the weirdest symptoms, the easiest steps you can take to prevent cancer, the prevalence of cancer among children, the challenges survivors face even after their cancer is gone. We’ve discussed the serious problem of cancer misdiagnosis, including the two most missed kinds of cancer and how to deal with dismissive doctors.

Perhaps the most important thing is to remember, though, that behind the numbers, the medical terminology, and the symptoms are real people – people like you and me, with families and friends who love them, with favorite hobbies, with goals and purpose. Behind the numbers are stories of individuals – some tragic, some inspiring, but all bound by the experience of suffering a potentially life-threatening illness. The prevalence of cancer means that sooner or later, it will touch most of our lives in some way. Let’s not forget, when we look at statistics and other data, that for millions of patients and families, cancer is personal.


Distracted Driving: Is Technology the Problem or the Solution?

By Richard Console on April 29, 2015 - Comments off

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, but the truth is that we motorists need to be aware of the danger all the time, not just one month a year. Distracted driving is among the most common causes of car accidents, and the cost is high. In 2013 – the most recent year for which the has full data available – accidents involving distracted drivers killed 3,154 people and injured 424,000, many of them seriously.

Distracted drivingDistracted driving encompasses many bad behaviors behind the wheel, from eating to grooming, from watching a video to fiddling with the radio. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

We’d like to think that all the public service announcements – like the signs bearing messages like “One text or call could wreck it all” – are working, but in reality they’re not doing nearly enough. While the number of fatalities decreased from the previous year, the number of injuries went up. People are still driving with their eyes, hands, and attention on something other than the road and the steering wheel in front of them. People are still getting hurt.

Does Technology Make the Distracted Driving Problem Better or Worse?

Cell phone use is the kind of distraction we talk about most, mainly because it is by far the biggest distraction on the road. The National Safety Council links almost 1,500,000 collisions to cell phone use each year. The number of drivers with their hands on the keypad and their eyes on the screen is terrifying.

Texting and Driving
Of course, motorists who are too busy texting to drive safely don’t just harm themselves – they put other motorists and even pedestrians at risk when they’re not paying attention. Photo Credit: Flickr.

The Benefits and Drawbacks of Infotainment

The cell phone is only one piece of distracting technology vying for your attention behind the wheel. Today’s cars have a vastly larger number of technological bells and whistles than they have in years past. Infotainment systems are becoming the norm in modern vehicles, many of which devote their own tablet-like screen to displaying new forms of automotive technology.

Some of these new technologies are harmless, even helpful. A backup camera can expand motorists’ view, making it safer for them to reverse out of parking spots and driveways – as long as they’re still aware of their surroundings beyond what they can see on the screen, of course. While it’s better for drivers’ attention if they don’t make phone calls at all while driving, making or taking a call hands-free with the help of Bluetooth at least means they aren’t fiddling with the phone, diverting their eyes from the road and hands from the wheel.

Infotainment system
Whether a car’s infotainment technology makes drivers more or less prone to distraction depends on the features and how drivers access them. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

The problem is that some of these infotainment technologies increase driver distraction instead of reducing it. One luxury car company, for example, launched a Facebook app, ostensibly to be used when the vehicle is in park. (Of course, you don’t really need the car to do that – once parked, there’s no reason drivers couldn’t just use their phones to post to Facebook if that’s what they wanted to do.)

Why a car’s infotainment system would encourage drivers to browse Facebook or post updates behind the wheel is baffling. At least navigation systems, hands-free calling features, and music streaming features have something to do with actually driving, and with keeping drivers from being even more distracted by turning to their cell phones to check directions, answer calls, or change the music. Incorporating a Facebook app adds in an unnecessary, and potentially very dangerous, element to automotive technology.

The goal of infotainment should be less about keeping you entertained – because your attention really should be on the road – and more about providing you with everything you need easily accessible either on the steering wheel or with your voice. When your car instead tempts you to focus your attention elsewhere, it becomes a distraction in and of itself.

High-Tech Solutions to Driver Distraction

Just as technology distracts us, it could also provide the solution to the distracted driving problem – or at least, the tricky cell phone part of it. Experts are working to find ways that would use GPS features and Internet connections to effectively silence drivers’ phones once the car’s technology registers that they are driving. These theoretical technologies could block calls and texts when the vehicle is in motion, so there’s nothing to distract you from the road.

While there are still legal and marketing hurdles that technology like this will have overcome, solutions like these could be the future of putting a much-needed end to the distracted driving epidemic.

More about Distracted Driving

Want to know more about the problem? Check out these distracted driving news stories:

  • It takes two (or more) people to have an ongoing text message conversation. Think you’re legally in the clear as long as you’re not the one behind the wheel? Not necessarily. In summer of 2013, New Jersey appeals court judges ruled that the sender of a text message could be held partially responsible for a texting-and-driving related crash. If your recipient might be on the road, hold off on pressing ‘send,’ or you could find yourself on the wrong side of the law.
  • It’s no surprise that teenagers are particularly likely to use the phone behind the wheel, but do you know who your kids are calling and texting? A hint for parents: It’s probably you.Studies show that more than half of teens admit to calling their parents while driving and about 18 percent have texted mom or dad when their focus should have been on the road.
  • Do you know how dangerous distracted driving is? Most people do – the numbers proof that knowing the risks doesn’t stop them from driving distracted.

If you’ve ever glanced in your rearview mirror and found the driver behind you fully absorbed in their phone, there’s a good chance you weren’t thrilled at their proximity to you. I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen a motorist driving erratically – pulling out in front of traffic, staying stopped too long after the light has turned green, speeding, tailgating – only to notice the phone in the driver’s hand when I got a better look. Distracted driving is dangerous. It’s time to end the distraction.


Even After Surviving Cancer, Complications Loom Large

By Richard Console on April 28, 2015 - Comments off

We often frame discussions of cancer in terms of war. We talk about “cancer battles,” in which “winning” means surviving.

Cancer survivor
Many real cancer survivors don’t always feel victorious after beating cancer. They may struggle with the physical and psychological consequences of the illness. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

Yet just like literal warfare, cancer can leave survivors with scars – physical and emotional. Cancer survivors have an increased risk of suffering serious consequences after their bout with cancer, including recurrences, physical complications, and anxiety disorders.

The Risk of Recurrence

With some forms of cancer, even after successful treatment, there’s a risk that the disease could return. Certain cancer treatments, while necessary to shrink or get rid of one tumor, can make it more likely that patients will suffer cancer of a different variety in the future.

Cancer recurrenceCancer can recur even after it has been surgically removed or treated with chemotherapy or radiation – and it can happen years after the initial illness. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

For many cancer survivors, life after the illness means always wondering if and when the cancer could return, and if they will be able to survive another battle. This “living with the unknown,” as the American Cancer Society refers to it, is emotionally difficult for patients – and their families – who have already been through something so traumatic.

The exact risk of cancer recurrence differs from patient to patient, depending on individual factors and the type of cancer, the kind of treatments used to beat it the first time, and the length of time it’s been since that first cancer battle. Even this complexity, this difficulty in understanding the exact risks, can be frustrating and exhausting for patients who want nothing more than to move on with their lives, but who worry constantly that their cancer will return.

Long-Term Complications

For many patients, the consequences of cancer treatments include many serious risks. Some may take years to manifest, and they can be as serious as the cancer itself was.

According to Mayo Clinic, late effects of chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery can include:

  • Cataracts
  • Heart problems
  • Infertility and early menopause
  • Nerve damage
  • Lung disease or reduced lung capacity
  • Intestinal problems
  • Osteoporosis
  • Liver problems
  • Skin changes
  • Tooth decay
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Lymphedema, or swelling in the limbs
  • Memory problems

Like cancer, some of these complications can be painful and life-threatening. When faced with the immediate threat of cancer, procedures like radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery are life-saving – but down the road, their consequences for patients who survive can be serious.

Emotional and Psychological Scars

Not every result of a cancer battle is physical. Some effects have an impact on mental, emotional, and psychological health, too.

Having cancer is incredibly stressful for patients and their families. There’s the physical pain, the worry about what the future holds, the losses – both the big ones and seemingly small ones – that they experience. Even if the cancer is cured, the stress doesn’t magically disappear. Patients and their families still have to live with the memories and the fear.

A number of cancer survivors, and caregivers, suffer from an anxiety disorder called post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or from cancer-related post-traumatic stress (PTS), a similar but less severe disorder. Like survivors of military combat and violence, cancer survivors may suffer symptoms like flashbacks, difficulty sleeping, loss of interest in enjoyable activities, and feelings of hopelessness, anger, and fear, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

Cancer PTSD
Fortunately, a lot of cancer survivors “are able to cope and don’t develop full PTSD,” according to the American Cancer Society – but still, many do suffer this full-blown disorder. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Some patients must seek treatment, like medications, psychotherapy, or help from a support group, to manage their symptoms.

What Does It Mean to Be a Survivor?

With more than 14,000,000 cancer survivors scattered across the country, the sheer number of patients who have “won” their cancer battles is indeed something to celebrate. Yet that massive number of survivors is also a reason for concern. These survivors still need support, and some of them simply aren’t getting it. They have been through a difficult, exhausting, frightening battle. They need care for the foreseeable future to regain and maintain the best physical and psychological health possible – not just immediately following their bout with cancer, but often for the rest of their lives.

Are medical professionals, cancer research and awareness organizations, and their personal support systems – laypeople like us, their family members and friends – doing enough to help cancer survivors cope with the complications and changes in their health and their lives?

Perhaps more importantly, what more can we do to make a difference in the lives of survivors?


Dismissive Doctors Give New Meaning to Medical Neglect

By Richard Console on April 24, 2015 - Comments off

Healthcare has become such an ordeal today that for many patients, doctors’ dismissive attitudes undermine whatever benefit they should get from going to the doctor. This trend isn’t just frustrating – it’s dangerous.

Doctor explaining test results to patientYour doctor should listen to your concerns and your account of your symptoms and explain to you what different diagnoses and test results mean. As a patient, you deserve nothing less. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

Do You Trust Your Doctor?

It’s no surprise that many of us don’t like to go to the doctor. There are the long waits in lobbies, often surrounded by ill patients who could spread germs that make us sick (or sicker). There’s the cost – high prices if you don’t have medical insurance, and potentially high copays even if you do. Often, you spend far longer waiting for the doctor than you do actually getting any medical attention. Of course, there’s the uncomfortable nature of the appointment itself – needle sticks, skin exams, screening tests that are never quite as non-invasive as we would like.

However, the truly exasperating part for far too many patients is the central purpose of the appointment – their encounter with their doctor.

Doctors spend an average of just seven minutes with a patient, according to The New York Times. It’s no wonder that you – and, for that matter, three out of five patients, according to National Public Radio – feel rushed when you finally do see your physician. You actually are being rushed.

Some patients find that it’s not only the clock that makes them feel dismissed, but their doctors’ actions toward them. Whether it’s because a physician doesn’t have time or simply isn’t interested, too many patients no longer feel listened to – and for good reason.

“Studies show that doctors will interrupt patients within 10 seconds after they begin speaking,” physician and patient advocate Dr. Leana Wen wrote in Everyday Health. That’s not much time to get your point across. That’s not much time to ask your questions or to summarize what happened in the time between your first symptom and the appointment. Honestly, that’s barely enough time to say “hello.” It’s certainly not enough time to build trust – something essential when you consider that you’re putting your health, and perhaps your life, in the hands of this physician.

Do you trust your doctor? I was surprised to find out how many patients don’t.

The Medical Neglect of Delaying a Cancer Diagnosis

When I began researching cancer for Cancer Control Month, I was shocked by the number of patients commenting on articles about the doctors who had ignored their symptoms or misdiagnosed their loved ones. There were people who lost their spouses, their parents, their children, all because a doctor ignored complaints of symptoms that – eventually – turned out to indicate cancer. These physicians dismissed patients’ reports of their symptoms, not bothering to order additional tests or refer patients to specialists, or they threw pills at the problem instead of trying to determine its true cause. Because of their failure to listen to their patients, these doctors missed common cancer diagnoses for weeks, months, even years.

Unsurprisingly, these patients felt more than a little bitter. They believed that doctors didn’t care. They distrusted physicians – not just their competency, but their motives, and not just individuals, but as a profession. Healthcare shouldn’t have to be this way.

Unfortunately, I know that there are plenty of stories of doctors misdiagnosing cancer in patients. Let me tell you a story.

Years before I met him, a patient that I once represented visited the emergency room after an assault. Among the tests and treatment he received at the hospital was a chest X-ray. By pure chance, the test results showed a small, cancerous nodule in this man’s lungs. The image was so clear that hospital staff actually noted the nodule on the patient’s chart.

The problem is that doctors neglected to tell him that he had cancer. They dismissed him from the hospital, and for five years, he was unaware of his condition while the cancer grew steadily throughout his body. By the time he developed symptoms and discovered that he had the disease, it was too late. Doctors had delayed his cancer diagnosis for so long that what had previously been a treatable condition with a high rate of survival had now become terminal.

Sadly, you find dismissive doctors in every type of facility – in emergency rooms, in primary care practices, and even in specialties like oncology. By ignoring and dismissing you, a doctor could be giving cancer time to grow and spread – perhaps with deadly results.

What You Can Do

You shouldn’t need guidelines on what you can do as a patient to prevent your doctor from misdiagnosing you. It’s not supposed to be your job to make sure your doctor does his or her job. However, there’s a reason this information has become the subject of numerous books and articles. If you ever find yourself ignored by a medical professional, knowing how to stand up for yourself could be the only way to get the care you deserve.

Here are some tips from patient advocate and physician Dr. Leana Wen, as reported by CNN, on what you can do if your doctor doesn’t listen to you.

  1. Tell your whole story – Concisely explain what happened, rather than just answering the doctor’s yes/no questions.
  2. Assert yourself in the doctor’s thought process – By asking what your doctor is thinking and sharing your thoughts, you can understand each other better.
  3. Participate in your physical exam – When you have questions, ask! Be an informed patient.
  4. Make a differential diagnosis together – Talk with your doctor about the list of possible explanations for your symptoms instead of making assumptions about what your condition is likely to be.
  5. Partner in the decision-making process –Work with your doctor to narrow down your list of potential diagnoses.
  6. Apply tests rationally – Know before you go what the purpose of a test is, as well as the benefits and risks.
  7. Use common sense – Have an idea of your likely diagnosis and the other possible diagnoses before you leave the doctor’s office
  8. Integrate diagnosis into the healing process – Find out from your doctor what to expect from your condition, your treatment options, and any warning signs that could indicate that what you’d decided is the most probably diagnosis isn’t actually correct.

Finally, if you try everything but can’t get your doctor to listen to your concerns, then it’s time to find a new doctor. Your health is the most important thing, and you have to do what’s best for you. If your doctor has already made a mistake and delayed your cancer diagnosis, then doing what’s best for you includes getting legal help as well as new medical care.


Most Owners Neglect Their Cars – Do You?

By Richard Console on April 23, 2015 - Comments off

If you’re one of the 84 percent of car owners whose vehicles need service right now, you’re putting yourself, your family, and everyone on the road at risk every time you get behind the wheel. The worst part is that you probably don’t even know that you’re in danger.

April is spring’s National Car Care Month, one of two months (the other is October) dedicated to promoting seasonal vehicle maintenance.

Car CareDuring inspections at two key points last year, the Car Care Council found that an overwhelming 84 percent of cars were in need of service – and less safe than they could have been. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

Your Car Care Checklist

If you own a vehicle or drive someone else’s vehicle regularly, you need to know that the car is safe to drive. Here are the most important things you must check to make sure your car is well-maintained, according to the Car Care Council:

  1. Engine fluids
  2. Hoses and belts
  3. Battery
  4. Brakes
  5. Exhaust system
  6. Heating and cooling systems
  7. Steering and suspension
  8. Tires
  9. Wipers
  10. Lighting

MechanicIf you’re not comfortable checking these items yourself, get a trusted mechanic to do it, or look for a Car Care Month event in your area that offers free inspections. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

Caring for Your Car Makes You Safer

Even seemingly small problems can have serious consequences on the road. After all, when you – and all of the drivers around you – are operating complex machinery that weighs literally tons of pounds, sometimes cruising at speeds of 65 miles per hour or more, any breakdown that causes a loss of control can lead to a disastrous crash.

According to the results of inspections completed by the Car Care Council, here are some of the most common vehicle maintenance offenses that owners commit.

Windshield Cleaning and Clearing

About 27 percent of cars needed washer fluid, and 16 percent had windshield wipers in bad shape.

Because neither issue is hard to fix, these might seem like minor problems – but if an unexpected condition suddenly reduced your visibility to near-zero behind the wheel, that lack of washer fluid or functioning wipers could prevent you from seeing a hazard in time to stop.

Engine Oil

One quarter of all cars had problems with low or dirty engine oil – which means the fluid flowing through their engines, responsible for keeping everything in working order, is inadequate.


About 17 percent of cars had coolant issues. Some cars simply didn’t have enough of the chemical. In others, the coolant was dirty and needed to be changed. Still others had more serious problems, with the coolant leaking out of the vehicle.

In most cases, fixing this problem is as simple as adding the right amount of coolant – but failing to fix it could cause your engine to overheat.

Engine Fluids

It doesn’t take much technical knowledge to work out what power steering, brake, and transmission fluids do or why they’re important. However, 13 percent of vehicles didn’t have enough of these essential chemicals to keep their cars running safely. Get too low on any one of these engine fluids, and you could lose control of your vehicle.

Check engine lightThe check engine light should be an obvious clue that a car needs service, but 13 percent of cars still had this indicator on when inspected. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Belts, Hoses, and Filters

About 17 percent of cars needed at least one new belt. Eight percent needed a new hose. Air filters needed replacement in 18 percent of vehicles.


Is your battery in good working order? Great! However, just checking the charge doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. About 14 percent of cars had problems with the battery clamps, cables, and terminals, and another nine percent “were not properly held down.”


More than one in 10 cars had at least one headlight, brake light, license plate light, or other bulb out. It might seem like no big deal, but even one absent light could make it harder for you to see what’s on the road – or harder for other drivers to see you.


When was the last time you checked your tire pressure? What about your tread? The tires are what connect your vehicle to the roadway and control its movements. Improperly inflated tires, which appeared on 10 percent of vehicles, could put you at risk for a tire blow-out, decreased traction, tire failure, and decreased control over stopping and steering your car. Another 14 percent of cars needed tires replaced, not just refilled with air, because the tread was so worn.

Vehicle Maintenance Matters

Safety is the most important reason for maintaining your car, but it’s not the only one.

The Value of Your Time

Do you rely on your car to get your family to work, to school, to doctor’s offices and grocery stores, to sports practices and recreational activities, to the homes of friends and family members? Most car owners do – otherwise, why have the expense and responsibility of having a car in the first place?

If you don’t maintain your vehicle, the defects will make your car’s performance unreliable. It might not happen today, or tomorrow, or next week, but after a long enough spell of neglect, don’t be surprised if your car stops working the way you want it to and leaves you stranded. We all know what that means: you’re late for work, you miss a family dinner or Little League practice, and you can’t get to essential errands like appointments and shopping for basic necessities.

Your time is valuable. If you choose not to maintain your vehicle promptly, you’re gambling with that time – and you have no way of knowing when and where you’ll have to pay that debt. Sure, it could be a slight, relatively harmless delay during leisurely day out, but it could also be an hours-long crisis on the way to the airport that makes you miss an expensive, nonrefundable flight.

So, what kind of risk are you willing to take with your time?

The Financial Cost of Missed Maintenance

No one likes to shell out the money for car maintenance, but not investing in regular care for your car could cost you a lot more in the long run.

“Neglected vehicle care almost always means much higher costs down the line in the form of more extensive repairs or lost resale value,” according to the Car Care Council’s Executive Director, Rich White.

Let’s break that down a little. One of the most basic types of maintenance your car needs is a regular oil change.

Oil changeOil changes typically cost $39.99 or less at a mechanic’s shop, according to ABC News, or you could do it yourself if you want to. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

When your car is performing fine, it might feel like you’re throwing away the cost of the oil change. You don’t actually see any benefit from it.

Skip enough of these relatively low-cost services, though, and your car’s engine will suffer above-average wear and tear. It may take a while – “many thousands of miles,” according to HowStuffWorks – to reach the point of neglect where your car suffers catastrophic engine failure, but that’s the ultimate outcome if you ignore oil changes for long enough.

Not only is replacing the engine far more expensive than the cost of the oil changes you missed, but if you decide that the now damaged vehicle is too expensive to fix, you won’t be able to sell it or trade it in for much. The resale value is shot, because what good is any car without a working engine?

Avoid Accidents with a Well-Maintained Car

Being a responsible vehicle owner is essential for safety on the road, not to mention long-term cost-savings and efficient use of your time. You’ve got your life, the lives of your passengers, and the lives of unsuspecting fellow drivers in your hands. Any defect in your vehicle that reduces the amount of control you have behind the wheel is a serious risk. Use Car Care Month as a reminder to get your car serviced now – before a rundown part or lack of regular maintenance puts you in a dangerous situation.


The 5 Easiest Things You Can Do to Prevent Cancer

By Richard Console on April 22, 2015 - Comments off

With cancer so prevalent that it affects one in two men and one in three women during their lifetimes, preventing the condition before it develops has never been more important. Yet we still know relatively little about why cancer develops in some people but not in others. The risk factors and causes of cancer remain mysterious. A few of the known factors, like genetics, are beyond patients’ ability to change.

However, there are some habits known to be so closely associated with developing cancer that the link is too clear to ignore. Here are the top five easiest ways you can slash your cancer risk.

The 5 Easiest Things You Can Do to Prevent Cancer

1. Don’t Smoke

Prevent Cancer by Not SmokingWhile not smoking is a simple way to lower your cancer risk, quitting smoking isn’t “easy,” especially for long-time smokers. For help, check out the American Cancer Society’s Guide to Quitting Smoking. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

Not smoking is one of the ways you can most drastically decrease your cancer risk. Smoking is associated with an increased risk of more than a dozen different kinds of cancer, including:

  1. Lung cancer
  2. Larynx cancer
  3. Esophageal cancer
  4. Oral cancer
  5. Pancreatic cancer
  6. Kidney cancer
  7. Bladder cancer
  8. Colon cancer
  9. Stomach cancer
  10. Liver cancer
  11. Cervical cancer
  12. Leukemia
  13. Ovarian cancer
  14. Nose and sinus cancer

An estimated 90 percent of lung cancer deaths in men and close to 80 percent in women involve smoking, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC).

The good news is that even if you’ve been a smoker for years, you can decrease your cancer risk significantly by quitting today.

  • 5 years after quitting, your likelihood of developing oral, esophageal, and bladder cancer is half what it was when you still used tobacco, according to the American Cancer Society. If you’re female, your cervical cancer risk is no higher now than if you had never smoked at all.
  • 10 years after quitting, you’ve cut your likelihood of developing terminal lung cancer in half, and you’ve also reduced the risk of larynx and pancreatic cancer.

2. Drink Only in Moderation

Prevent Cancer by Drinking Only in ModerationEach year, about 70 percent of adults in the United States consume at least some amount of alcohol. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

For many adults, there’s nothing wrong with drinking in moderation. In fact, moderate alcohol consumption is even associated with some positive health effects, like a lower risk of heart disease, a certain kind of stroke, and diabetes.

However, too much alcohol consumption can put you at risk for developing:

  1. Breast cancer
  2. Colon cancer
  3. Esophageal cancer
  4. Kidney cancer
  5. Larynx cancer
  6. Liver cancer
  7. Lung cancer
  8. Oral cancer
  9. Throat cancer

Overindulgence in alcohol increases your cancer risk in a few different ways. It can damage cells, which then multiply within the body. Alcohol can also interact with other chemicals, from the hormones that increase the risk of breast cancer to the nutrients in the food you eat. The combination of alcohol and tobacco can be particularly damaging when it comes to cancer risk, the American Cancer Society reported.

Your best bet for reducing your cancer risk is to limit your alcohol consumption to moderate use, if you do drink. That means on average no more than one alcoholic beverage a day if you’re a woman or two if you’re a man, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

3. Wear Sunscreen

Prevent Cancer with Sunscreen“Most skin cancers are a direct result of exposure to the UV rays in sunlight,” the American Cancer Society reported. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

Did you know that skin cancer is the most common type of cancer diagnosed nationwide? Overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun can increase your risk of developing skin cancers, some of them deadly.

The link between sun exposure and skin cancer is pretty well known now, yet most of us have accidentally exposed ourselves to UV rays – as evidenced by sunburn – on more than one occasion. Sure, you lose track of time out on the beach, or you stay out in the sun longer than you expected. Sun exposure happens – but every time it does, it has the potential to raise your cancer risk.

Sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher filters out most of the harmful rays of sunlight, so it’s a great place to start when it comes to protecting yourself form the sun. Slather it on liberally and reapply frequently.

Keep in mind, though, that sunscreen may not protect against all cancer-causing rays. Wear a hat, sunglasses, and protective clothing whenever possible to keep UV light away from your skin. Artificial UV light like tanning beds and lamps create cancer risks like real sunlight does, so try to avoid exposing your skin to all sources of UV light.

4. Eat a Healthy Diet

Prevent cancer with a healthy dietThe American Cancer Society recommends eating at least two and a half cups of fruits and vegetables per day to reduce your cancer risk. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

When you hear the word “diet,” do you think automatically of ultra-restrictive calorie counts or fad eating plans that cut out whole food groups? You don’t have to commit to an unsustainable regimen to decrease your cancer risk – just make conscious choices to eat more of the foods with the most nutritional value and less of the calorie-dense junk foods that don’t support your health.

A big part of eating a healthy diet is about reaching and maintaining a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese increases your risk of developing breast, prostate, uterine, and colon cancers, according to the CDC. The extra body weight can result in increased production of chemicals that facilitate cancer growth. Even if you’re already at a healthy weight, making smart decisions about what you eat and choosing a balanced diet can help protect your health.

Here are some tips for a diet that can help you fight cancer:

  • Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains.
  • Enjoy leaner meats, like poultry, chicken, and lean cuts of red meat, rather than high-fat sources of protein. If you consume dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt, opt for low-fat or fat-free versions.
  • Processed food items may be faster and easier to prepare, but they’re less healthy generally, especially when they contain added sugars, sodium, and other ingredients that don’t benefit your health. When possible, choose unprocessed foods to prepare yourself – that way you know what’s in your diet.

With research into cancer prevention constantly evolving, it’s hard to say definitively that one particular food is good or bad for you in terms of cancer risk. Researchers have found conflicting information about many foods – for example, a study just reported that butter, of all things, can fight breast and colon cancer, The Huffington Post reported. Be aware of new research, especially if you’re in a high-risk population, but don’t feel that you have to jump on every new fad. Eating a generally healthy diet can help you reduce your cancer risk as much as possible without going crazy over it.

Some studies are suggesting that it’s not just what you eat that affects your cancer risk, but also when, how, and how much you eat. Pay attention to portion sizes. Wash fresh produce before eating to get rid of any pesticide residue. One study suggested that women can decrease their breast cancer risk simply by fasting for a longer span of time overnight, even if they don’t actually eat less food, Science Daily reported.

 5. Exercise Regularly

Prevent cancer with regular exerciseIf you find a way to make exercise fun – by taking up a sport, exercising with a buddy, or listening to great music while you work out – you can easily make physical activity part of your routine. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

Of course, a healthy diet is only part of the equation when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight. Getting enough exercise is also a big piece of the puzzle, and it can help reduce your cancer risk.

Just how much exercise is enough? Adults need a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week, according to the American Cancer Society. Children and teenagers need more exercise than adults. An hour of moderate to vigorous exercise per day is good, especially if kids exercise vigorously at least three days a week.

Even if the thought of spending hours on end at the gym doesn’t appeal to you, this is a manageable amount of exercise. Split that 150 minutes of moderate exercise over the workweek, and you’re talking half an hour a day. Stretch it across the full seven days of the week, and you’re looking at just over 20 minutes.

The great thing about each of these ways to cut your cancer risk is that they’re all good for our general health, not just minimizing the likelihood of getting cancer. Instead of treating these guidelines as “all or nothing,” look at every tip as an opportunity to do more. Every little bit of extra exercise is better than none. Every time you make the choice to reapply sunscreen or hold off on one more drink makes you a little healthier than the alternative.

(If you’ve already been diagnosed with cancer, especially late-stage cancer, your doctor could be responsible for delaying your diagnosis. While it’s too late for you to prevent cancer, it’s not too late to have someone watching out for your legal rights and helping you and your family get through the stress of your cancer battle.)


How Common Is Childhood Cancer?

By Richard Console on April 17, 2015 - Comments off

If someone you love has ever faced a battle against cancer, then you already know that every case of the devastating disease is a sad one. However, few situations are as heartbreaking as childhood cancer. There’s something deeply wrong when a child who should be taking his or her first bike ride instead must endure a first chemo session or go under the knife for a third operation.

Childhood cancerThe average age of kids diagnosed with childhood cancer is five to six years old. Some pediatric cancers are more common in young children, while others strike teens and young adults. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

It’s hard to imagine something more frightening – for children or their parents – than a pediatric cancer diagnosis. But how common is childhood cancer, really?

How Many Kids Get Cancer?

Statistically, cancer in children is rare. Pediatric diagnoses account for just one to two percent of all cancer cases. Even though it’s relatively uncommon, it does happen. Every single hour of every day, a family gets the shattering diagnosis.

Some fast facts about pediatric cancer:

  • About 10,380 children age 15 and under develop cancer each year in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society.
  • More children die from cancer than any other disease in the U.S., the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) reported.
  • One in 330 kids worldwide will be diagnosed with cancer before they reach the age of 20, according to cancer research fundraising foundation Max’s Ring of Fire.
  • Every day, 43 children will receive a cancer diagnosis, nonprofit foundation CureSearch
  • About 1,250 children younger than age 15 will lose their battle with cancer this year.
  • Childhood cancer isn’t just cancer that exists in smaller or younger patients. Pediatric cancers are different from the types of cancer that strike adult patients.
    • Those differences can be a big deal when it comes to treatment. Teens and young adults have an estimated 30 percent better chance of surviving when they receive childhood cancer treatments instead of being treated as adults, according to Baldrick’s Foundation.

Are More Kids Getting Cancer?

The good news is that the rates of childhood cancer are not currently on the rise, according to the NRDC.

The bad news is that they’re not decreasing, either. Instead, they hover around the same levels as they did in the 1990s, after nearly 20 years of consistent increases put childhood cancer rates at the highest rate in decades. This means that while the rates aren’t actively getting worse, they’re still dramatically higher than childhood cancer rates of the ‘70s, the ‘80s, and the decades that predated them.

What Are the Most Common Forms of Childhood Cancer?

More than a dozen separate forms of pediatric cancer exist, according to fundraising organization St. Baldrick’s Foundation.  Add to that the fact that there exist “countless subtypes” of each of these forms, and you’ll see that childhood cancers are far from simple.

Most Common Childhood Cancers

The most common form of pediatric cancer is acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), a cancer of the blood and bone marrow that leaves victims without enough of the blood cells that fight off infections. Together with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), it accounts for 31 percent of all instances of childhood cancer, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Every year, more than 3,000 kids (that is, patients age 20 and under) develop ALL, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital reported.

Tumors of the brain, spinal cord, and central nervous system are the next most common, making up a combined 21 percent of pediatric cancers.

Children may also suffer cancers of the adrenal glands, kidneys, lymph system eyes, bones, and skeletal muscles, as well as a number of rare cancers.

What Happens to Survivors of Childhood Cancer?

Suffering through a potentially deadly illness – and all of the pain, the loss, and the loneliness that entails – can be a frightening experience at any age. Studies have shown that as many as 20 percent of childhood cancer survivors meet the criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) when they become adults, according to the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Even among those that didn’t have full-blown PSTD, between 45 and 90 percent of pediatric cancer survivors had at least one symptom. Parents, too, developed PTSD after the fearful ordeal of their child’s life-threatening disease.

A big problem for patients of pediatric cancer is that even surviving cancer is hazardous to one’s health. The surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation, medications, and other medical interventions necessary to drive cancer into remission also affect other workings of the body.

For children, whose bodies and brains are still growing, this can be especially problematic. They will need lifelong checks for complications and side effects. The cancer could return, or another form of cancer could develop at any point during their lifetime – made more likely by exposure to radiation the first time around. Some childhood cancer survivors experience slower physical growth and development or learning difficulties. As adults, they may suffer heart problems, lung problems, and infertility because of the treatments the needed during childhood.

Despite the difficulties, though, survivors of pediatric cancer can and often do go on to life full, happy lives.

What about My Child?

As a parent, it’s hard not to get anxious thinking about the tragedy that is pediatric cancer. You might wonder if your child is at risk or what you can do to prevent childhood cancer or catch it early.

In many adult cancers, lifestyle factors play a role in determining risk. Not so in childhood cancers, the causes of which are still not understood in many cases. This makes it difficult to know if your kid is at risk or to prevent childhood cancers. Since cancer in children is so uncommon, there are currently no tests used to screen for cancer in children who are at an average risk, according to the American Cancer Society.

Perhaps the best thing a parent can do is know the symptoms of childhood cancer to watch for and get their child to a doctor right away if he or she begins showing those symptoms.

The most common symptoms of childhood cancer include:

  • Persistent pain in a region of the body
  • Limping
  • Headaches
  • Lack of energy
  • Pale skin
  • Unexplained bruises, lumps, and swelling
  • Fever
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Vision changes

While pediatric cancer is certainly a tragic situation, remember that even if your child has some of these cancer symptoms, cancer isn’t the most likely cause. Visit a doctor to hopefully rule out cancer and, if the diagnosis does turn out to be serious, remember that the survival rate for kids with cancer is good. Catching the condition early and getting the right treatment for your child right away can make all the difference.


Your Doctor Is Likely to Miss These 2 Common Cancers

By Richard Console on April 15, 2015 - Comments off

You hear a lot about cancer awareness. There’s a practical reason for this focus: making people aware of the symptoms to watch for and the screenings that could lead to early detection. Survival rates are far higher when cancers are diagnosed early on, rather than after they have progressed to more serious stages.

Recently, I have seen a disturbing rise in medical malpractice cases in which doctors failed to diagnose two specific kinds of cancer: breast and colon cancer.

Mammogram resultsRegular screening can detect both types of cancer, yet somehow doctors still fail to diagnose the conditions promptly – leaving patients with poor prognoses and slim chances of surviving. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

Delayed Breast Cancer Diagnosis

MammogramMammograms are just one of several tests doctors can use to detect breast cancer early on, while the survival rate is still very high. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

How Doctors Detect Breast Cancer

Doctors use a wide range of methods to diagnose breast cancer, from physical exams to imaging tests like ultrasounds and mammograms. High-risk patients might undergo MRIs, and patients who display symptoms like breast lumps might need a biopsy.

Screenings like mammograms clinical breast exams are intended to detect cancer even before the condition has begun causing noticeable symptoms. That’s why the American Cancer Society recommends annual mammograms for all women age 40 and older – even if they don’t have breast cancer symptoms – and regular clinical breast exams even for women as young as 20.

Survival Rate by Stage

When diagnosed at stage 0 and stage I, breast cancer patients have a relative 100 percent five-year survival rate, the American Cancer Society reported. At stage II, that rate still remains high at 93 percent. Even at stage III, 72 percent of breast cancer patients survive for at least five years.

When cancer progresses to stage IV, though, the survival rate plummets to just 22 percent.

Delayed Colon Cancer Diagnosis

Colonoscopy polyp removalA popular screening test for colon cancer can actually prevent cancer before it develops. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

How Doctors Detect Colon Cancer

Probably the most well-known screening for colon cancer is the colonoscopy, a test conducted in a clinic, physician’s office or hospital outpatient department in which a patient is sedated and medical providers use tubes, cameras, and other equipment to view the inside of the colon. In addition to detecting cancer, colonoscopies can also find and biopsy or remove polyps, noncancerous tumors that could later turn cancerous – in other words, the procedure can actually prevent colon cancer.

Physicians sometimes perform a sigmoidoscopy, a test similar to a colonoscopy. Doctors can also use X-ray tests and CT scans as well as various, noninvasive tests of stool sample specimens to diagnose colorectal cancer.

Though colon cancer could in theory affect patients of any age, the American Cancer Society generally doesn’t recommend regular colonoscopy or other screenings until patients turn 50. Patients with an increased risk due to family history, certain medical conditions, or other factors may need to undergo screening earlier.

If a patient goes for a regular colonoscopy or other test and gets a clean bill of health, he or she shouldn’t later be diagnosed with late-stage colorectal cancer. The screening should detect cancer in its early stages. A late-stage diagnosis could indicate that doctors neglected to perform procedures thoroughly or misinterpreted results of the test.

Survival Rate by Stage

As with breast cancer, colon cancer is a condition in which early detection makes a world of difference. At stage I, 92 percent of patients survive for at least five years, according to the American Cancer Society. For patients with stage IIIA colon cancer, the survival rate is 89 percent, while patients with stage IIA cancer have an 87 percent survival rate. Stage IIIB translates to a 69 percent survival rate, while stage IIB is similar at 63 percent.

When colon cancer reaches stage IIIC, patients have a 53 percent chance of living for at least five more years.

At stage IV, the survival rate drops sharply – to a dismal 11 percent.

How Do Doctors Fail to Diagnose Cancer?

Knowing that there are clear guidelines and effective screening methods that allow doctors to detect breast and colon cancer early on, you might wonder how a doctor could possibly fail to diagnose cancer.

In some cases, the physician isn’t thorough enough in examining the patient. Other times, he or she neglects to order or perform a test that others in the medical community would find reasonable. For example, a patient might present with symptoms that could indicate breast cancer, but the doctor could dismiss the patient’s worrying signs instead of ordering a test to investigate the cause.

Perhaps the doctor orders the right test, but he or she never actually interprets the data, or makes a serious mistake in interpreting it. It’s even possible that the doctor will see that a test indicates that a patient has cancer, but won’t actually tell the patient of the finding, recommend a follow-up appointment, or refer the patient to a specialist. These patients go on with their lives, having no idea that they’re suffering from a serious condition until it’s too late.

No matter how a doctor failed to diagnose cancer – whether because he or she was busy, or distracted, or dismissive – this is negligence, and the consequences are severe.

The rise in failure to diagnose cases of breast and colon cancer is an alarming trend. However, misdiagnosis isn’t limited to one or two kinds of cancer. I’ve known cases of doctors failing to diagnose skin cancer, prostate cancer, and cervical cancer. One of the most memorable cases I’ve handled over the years was a failure to diagnose lung cancer claim, in which an emergency room X-ray of an injured man’s chest clearly showed a small tumor, but the hospital staff never bothered to inform the patient. By the time he learned about the cancer years later, it had progressed to a terminal illness.

If you were diagnosed with late-stage cancer of any kind even after you had undergone preventive screenings or seen your doctor for symptoms, you deserve to know whether or not a medical provider’s negligence is what put you in this situation. You and your family deserve compensation for all of the damages you suffered as a result. Give Console & Hollawell a call – the consultation is free and private, and we’ll help you understand your rights and options.


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