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SMALL TALK: PERSONAL INJURY

By Mark Nowak 17 Aug, 2017

On August 16th, 2017, Brian Alterio presented at the Continuing Legal Education (CLE) Noonday Lecture for the Erie County Bar Association. The lecture was entitled, “Supplemental Needs Trusts For Personal Injury Attorneys”. The lecture was attended by many attorneys interested in learning about how a supplemental needs trust can help their clients in this situation.

A Supplemental Needs Trust (SNT) enables a person to maintain eligibility for needs-based government benefits, including SSI and/or Medicaid, when there is a personal injury settlement or verdict.  The purpose of the Supplemental Needs Trust is to benefit from the settlement without effecting his or her eligibility for the needs-based programs.  

In other words, if a person who receives SSI or Medicaid is injured in a car accident, or as a result of the negligence of another person or company, a SNT will protect the settlement proceeds from interrupting the claimant’s benefits.

Since receipt of personal injury proceeds can effect eligibility for needs-based programs, your attorney needs to understands the benefits of a trust.  We regularly engage the expertise of others in the field to assist in establishing and administering the SNT. There is a cost to establish the SNT based on the amount of money involved in the trust. The proceeds may be deposited in a “pool trust” or an “individual trust”. Then, the administrator will allow certain purchases according to the statute. Simply, the trust may be used to pay some expenses but not others.

We understand the need to protect these benefits and are fully committed to obtaining the best results. Don’t forget, a Small Firm can make a Big Difference.


By Mark Nowak 10 Aug, 2017

We address both nursing home abuse and neglect cases. Each are actionable. Though similar, “neglect” reflects the failure to provide reasonable care or the violation of a policy or standard of care. Neglect may involve the failure to pay attention, the failure to provide regular assistance with hygiene, the failure to feed and nourish, or the failure to provide medical attention resulting in bed sores or infections, or to treat conditions such as cognitive deficits, diabetes, or the inability to walk independently.

Family members or friends who visit must be aware of the warning signs though they may be difficult to detect. If the resident appears to have lost weight, exhibits bed sores, shows bruising, signs of malnutrition, or behavioral changes, then you should make a report with the nursing staff. In fact, it should be reported immediately.

Some things you can do to prevent nursing home neglect includes ensuring that high risk patients are identified to prevent fall-downs. You can also make sure their mattress is clean and fits the bed frame properly to prevent suffocation.

Frequent visits by family and friends will help to reduce the possibility of neglect.

IF YOU CARE, THEY’LL CARE!

By Mark Nowak 10 Aug, 2017

I was so excited to finally visit the Buffalo History Museum on Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo, NY. I had visions of enlarged, mounted, black and white photographs of old Buffalo, the grain silos, the Erie Canal, and old Main Street. I love seeing the old photos and trying to figure out what’s still there and what’s not, what has changed, and what’s been built in its place. I think it’s fascinating to see the throngs of crowds lined up along Main Street watching parades go by. I thought I would see those kinds of things in the museum. Where else would I see them? I guess I presumed there would be a few hung in the history museum.

Last week I went to the museum and paid the $7.00 general admission. I was told there were some exhibits on the first floor, some exhibits on the second floor, and some exhibits in the basement. When I entered the first floor, I appreciated the marble floors, strong columns, and glass windows. But otherwise the room was practically empty. Maybe there were some WWII posters on the walls. There was nothing on the floor to look at. Upstairs, Tim Russert‘s exhibit is proudly intact. I spent 30 minutes taking that in and appreciating his contribution on the subjects he covered. Downstairs was a stale train set-up and dusty WWII momentos. Disappointed, I went to the desk and asked the nice attendant about old photos. She directed me to the gift shop. I still couldn’t find what I hoped to see: a pictorial of Buffalo on display. I have an idea that I hope to propose to the museum board in the near future that will help to raise money for the museum and bring some cool photos to display. That way the next time I visit, I’ll have something to see. Stay tuned.


By lemaster 13 Jul, 2017

My name is Emily Kaznica and I was a client of Craig Small’s Law Firm. It came about when my husband Tony, to whom I was married for over 46 years, was involved in a car accident. On Friday, January 9, 2015, he was on his way home from the bank and while sitting at a red light, a driver slid out from a side street hitting Tony’s vehicle. Tony called me and told me about the accident. The police were called to document the incident. Tony started for home which was about 2 miles away when he got dizzy and hit a parked car. The people at the scene thought that Tony may have been drinking and called the police. I was at home and was unaware of the second accident until a neighbor-police officer brought Tony’s SUV home and told me the circumstances.

 

  I went to the hospital where Tony was taken. He kept saying ”I’m dying” “I’m not going to leave this hospital alive”. A CAT scan revealed a brain bleed. He was transferred to the Medical Intensive Care Unit. By the second day, Tony needed surgery to reduce the bleeding on his brain. We were unable to talk to each other after that. There was a second and third surgery and several extensive tests. I started getting no-fault forms to complete…it was so overwhelming!

 

                I was referred to the Small Law Firm to assist me with all the forms and phone calls regarding this matter. Craig and his staff were so kind and compassionate. He came to the hospital, met with me and took over completely. I could not have done it without his help.

 

                After about three weeks, the doctors operated again placing a shunt in Tony’s  brain to reduce the pressure. The surgery went well, however, Tony began having seizures. When I went to the hospital the next morning, a man walked into the room and said he was from Hospice. I asked him what he was doing there. I don’t remember exactly what he said and he walked out. After a few more days they told me that my husband was in a vegetative state and I needed to consider taking him off life support. My heart broke. We had promised that we would not let each other linger on life support if we were brain dead…I made the decision to let my best friend of almost 50 years go. After a few more days in the hospital, I had Tony transferred to the Hospice on Como Park Blvd. which was closer to our home. He left me on Saturday February 14, 2015 at 8:30 A.M.

 

                Throughout those sad weeks and almost 2 years later Tony’s cases were finally settled. Craig Small was always there for me. When I cried, he did his best to comfort me. He made it convenient for me in many ways.  I would highly recommend The Craig Small Law Firm to anyone who wants an attorney who really cares.

 

Thank you Craig Small and support staff!

By lemaster 13 Jul, 2017

Blind/visually impaired people are perhaps the most patronized members of society. The historical misconception of blind/visually impaired people is that they are inferior and helpless. The public often makes false assumptions about blind people-for example: they are not intelligent or are unable to take care of themselves.

Organization is key to any blind person living independently or with someone. Safety is a priority! In order to cook, clean and do laundry, the dials on your appliances would need to be marked. Braille tags, rubber bands, and raised dots can be used to identify food, clothing, and containers.

Having things where they belong can reduce frustration when you are trying to locate items. Putting things in the same place reduces the risk of possibly knocking things over and having an unnecessary clean up.  

Here are some different types of equipment used by blind/visually impaired individuals to increase and enhance their independence at home and in the community.

Many items that the blind/visually impaired use have voice synthesizers. There are talking clocks, watches, scales, computers, calculators, etc. This also includes medical equipment such as thermometers and blood pressure cuffs.

Although many people who are blind/visually impaired have different methods of folding their currency, there is a device that will read the denominations of paper money. It is called the iBill Talking Money Identifier. There is another device that will tell you the color of items such as clothing, linens, bedding etc. It will also indicate if there is a light on in the room. This is called a Color Identifier-Light Detector.

There are playing cards, games, books, and magazines that have been adapted for the blind/visually impaired. Scanners are available to read printed materials; however, they are unable to read handwritten letters or correspondence.

As a Certified Rehabilitation Teacher for the Blind/Visually Impaired, I have taught individuals to utilize the above aids to develop skills and techniques to increase their independence in their daily life. Some of these skills include the use of a vacuum cleaner, sewing machine to make some basic stitches, thread a needle, and sew on a button.

As a person who is blind, I would like to be able to drive. I am waiting for the car that I can program to take me where and when I want to go!

I will leave you with a tip. I am sure that sometime in your life you have done laundry and washed your socks, and when they came out of the dryer you were missing one. I have told people that when they die they will be reunited with their missing socks. I am just kidding. Just pin your socks together, wash and dry them, and you will never lose a sock again. However, you may lose a pair.

Some of the items mentioned in this article are available through Maxiaids at www.maxiaids.com

By lemaster 13 Jul, 2017

My husband Tony and I were married about three years when we found out we were going to have our second child.  Tony Jr. w as named after his father and we hoped to the end of the pregnancy that we would have a baby girl. This was before the age of sonograms.

Angela Joy was born on July 19, 1971 and we couldn’t have been happier. Unfortunately, four days later we found out that our beautiful baby girl had contracted bacterial spinal meningitis. She might not live through the night.

Angela survived and we spent the next three weeks in the isolation unit at Children’s Hospital. We wore sterile gowns and could only touch our baby girl through openings in her tiny isolate.

Even though she lived, Angela endured several medical issues. At seven months of age, she was diagnosed with hydrocephalus and needed brain surgery. This involved inserting a shunt to remove the fluid from her brain and draining it into her stomach.

Although delayed in her development, we found out at three years old that Angela was deaf. She was evaluated and attended St. Mary's School for the Deaf. Angela was fitted for hearing aids. She liked them so much that one day we found them buried in the backyard.

When Angela was young, she had little fear of water or heights. Several times I had to pull her out of the water .   I also followed her down slides and near cliffs when we would go to playgrounds or camping. I wonder how we survived.

Angela walked, ran, and wanted to play with the other kids in the neighborhood. That's when my real problems began. I could not see where she went, and she could not hear me call. One of her favorite places was my neighbor’s garage where three baby kittens were born. I believe I earned every gray hair that I color.

Tony and I did everything we could do to give Angela as normal a life as possible.  Her father taught her how to ride a bike. I wanted to protect my daughter but she needed to experience life. Eventually she mastered the skill of swimming. She was able to hold her breath and stand on her hands underwater. She finally developed a rational fear of heights, so we no longer had to be afraid of her taking dangerous chances.

As a teenager, although she could not hear music, Angela loved to dance. Her favorite was the Bird Dance.   She went to several proms and stood up in three weddings. She was on a bowling league for several years until her physical condition started to deteriorate when she was in her late twenties and early thirties.

As Angela aged, her illnesses took a toll. She had difficulty walking and later became a wheelchair user. Her functioning abilities decreased. She is now a quadriplegic living in an ASPIRE Group Home.

When they say that life holds no guarantees, they are not kidding. As my vision deteriorates, I call Angela each day at her group home. She expresses herself to a mother who cannot see her, and I speak to a daughter who can’t hear me.

Nevertheless, God has given me the strength to persevere. Life goes on. And now Angela and I both color our hair.

My next story will be about adaptive equipment for the blind/visually impaired.


By lemaster 13 Jul, 2017

Working Dogs and their Differences

By Emily Kaznica

As the former Executive Director of the Erie County Office for the Disabled, one of my duties was to provide information to the community on services pertaining to individuals with disabilities. My favorite training lesson involved “Working Dogs and their Differences”.  

Have you ever seen a “working dog”?  Years ago, when you saw a dog in a harness, you might have thought that this was a guide dog for the blind.

Today there are many types of “working dogs”. They come in different breeds, sizes, colors, and shapes.

There are dogs who assist people who are blind, deaf, seizure prone, para/quadraplegics, and autistic. Also, some people have emotional problems as well as other disabilities, and need a Service Dog in order to live independently in the community. Research is being conducted to discover dogs' abilities to detect many other types of illnesses/medical conditions.

In the field of law enforcement, dogs are used to detect bombs, narcotics, cadavers, and causes of arson. In addition, some officers/handlers might use an attack dog for protection when they are in dangerous situations. They are continuing to work with the dogs' keen sense of smell to further develop their abilities to detect many types of chemicals, odors and drugs.

You may see a Service Dog in a restaurant, church, store, airport, hospital, office building, on public transportation, etc. When you see one of these dogs, you should not attempt to pet or talk to that dog. You may distract the dog from doing its job, leading to a possible accident or injury to its owner/handler. You may ask about the dog, but you might not get the answer you were looking for. Every dog is different, and so are their owners. Some owners are friendly and welcome questions, while others might not want to be disturbed. So don't assume anything. Always ask, and don't take their response personally. Remember: like dogs, people have differences too.

Most of these service dogs come from various agencies. They are raised differently, have variations in the type and length of training, work with numerous reward methods, and develop skills in how they will interact in the community and with the public. These dogs work hard to please their owner/handler. These bright animals make their owners aware of their surroundings, possible imminent dangerous situations, have different feeding regimens, and are taught relevant commands to their particular job. They do not get paid, but they earn the love of their owner /handler and usually give that unconditional love back.

When it is time to retire, in most cases these wonderful dogs stay with their owner/handler.  Like us, they enjoy the rest of their lives being a companion and a best friend.

By lemaster 13 Jul, 2017

Are Drivers Becoming Blind Sighted

 

Hi! My name is Emily and I am blind. I have a beautiful Yellow Labrador Retriever named Marla. She is my guide dog who I obtained through Guiding Eyes For the Blind. Where I live, there are signs that read "Blind Person Area."  When the weather is permissible, we walk throughout the neighborhood.

 

The biggest obstacle we face is dealing with drivers backing out of their driveways. I believe that they either are not paying attention, or must be visually impaired like me.

 

In our travels, we have encountered individuals backing up without looking. We have been hit twice, and missed getting hit several times. The thing that really baffles me is that when the driver realizes that they almost hit us, they stop and ask me, "Didn't you see me?" or "I am sorry, I didn't see you." One time a woman asked me why my dog didn't bark to warn the driver. With whom does the responsibility lie?

 

I want you to know how important it is to look carefully when backing out of your driveway. I will not see you and my dog takes the commands from me. She will pull me away from danger, but cars move fast and, there might not be enough time to get out of the way safely. I cross streets in my travels and once again drivers try to turn down or pull out of the street without having the courtesy to give me - the blind person - or any other pedestrian - the right of way.  Also, they do the same thing pulling in and out of their driveways. It is very scary when you can hear the car coming but you are not sure what they are doing.

 

During these winter months, people idle their cars in their driveways. I don't know whether they are in the vehicle or not, or if they are going to back up when I am walking on the sidewalk behind the car. Because we have been hit before, Marla is hesitant to proceed when we hear a car running. As a result, we usually wait until someone sees the situation and informs me whether or not it is safe to continue. This most certainly decreases my independence.

 

Turning right on red does not give you the right to go without considering your surroundings. This is another problem for people who cannot see. With the turning cars and the hybrid/quiet vehicles, I put my life in the hands of the drivers.

 

The moral of this story is: If you can drive a car, do it safely and watch for me, another blind person, a pedestrian or even a child. In the Vehicle and Traffic Law there is a section regarding backing out of your driveway. If you hit someone, you will have to live with the consequences. God has given you good sight which enables you to drive. Please use it wisely.

By lemaster 13 Jul, 2017

During the holiday season, the streets are crowded with people and traffic in Buffalo and the neighboring suburbs can be a nightmare. While some of the frustrations you experience as a driver are weather-related, others are related to the increase in traffic caused by holiday shoppers.  During this time of year, the potential for heavy traffic and bad weather also brings a greater risk for car accidents  .

According to the USA Today   , the National Safety Council has determined that the Thanksgiving holiday weekend (including Black Friday), Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day are among the most dangerous holidays for travelers.

Although drinking plays a role in many motor vehicle accidents around the holidays, distracted driving  , more vehicles on the road, and frantic holiday shopping can also turn a quick trip into a potential disaster.


Tips for Safe Driving During the Holidays

The following are a few reminders to enhance our safety on the road during the holidays:

 1.       Drinking and Driving  .

  As we know, drinking alcohol slows reaction time and impairs judgment -  the essential skills needed to drive a car safely. The more alcohol you consume, the greater the impairment. Take a cab, call for a ride, or have a designated sober driver.

Walking home intoxicated is not a safe alternative to drinking and driving. Numerous pedestrian accidents occur during the holidays as well. The same impairment of your motor skills and judgment that makes drunk driving dangerous can make walking while intoxicated dangerous as well.

 2.       Slow down  .

  Allow plenty of time to get to your destination.

 3.       If drowsy, take a nap  .

  If you are planning to visit out-of-town or out-of-state family or friends during the holidays, make sure you map out a safe trip. Don’t over-extend yourself and try to drive too long of a distance at once. Take a break when feeling drowsy. Take advantage of rest stops. Drive defensively.

 4.       Texting and Driving is as dangerous as Drinking and Driving.

  When you text, you take your eyes off the road. Even talking on the phone can be distracting. You can only do one well. Program your GPS prior to leaving or while stopped, never while you’re driving.  Maybe ask your passenger to change the music. It only takes a moment to negatively impact your life and the lives of others.

If you or someone you love has been involved in a car accident, our firm is here to help. As one of Buffalo’s top-rated personal injury attorneys, Craig Small, is committed to providing an exceptional level of professionalism with the personalized attention you deserve.

Call the Small Law Firm  for a free consultation at 716-847-2600  or Contact Us   TODAY!

By lemaster 13 Jul, 2017

Children’s injuries in school sports and recreational activities are common. Serious injuries often involve head trauma. Children may suffer head injuries in activities ranging from collisions during contact sports to falls from a swing or a slide.

Children who engage in sports or other physical activities should wear proper head protection. However, even with the proper head protection  , a person can still suffer a concussion.

In essence, the helmet protects the skull but the brain floating inside the skull may still be traumatized by sudden extreme movement.

The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons    advises that all athletes or participants, no matter what their age or skill level, wear a helmet when there is potential for a head injury, including:

•             Football

•             Hockey

•             Baseball

•             Skateboarding

•             Skiing

•             Snowboarding

•             Bicycling

•             Roller skating

•             Ice skating

If you suspect your child has suffered a head trauma, take the injury seriously and seek immediate medical attention.  It is easy to underestimate the serious nature of a concussion particularly when the child does not lose consciousness or “looks fine”.  Of course, multiple concussions can have long-term effects.

In general terms, a concussion   occurs when a person is hit in the head with such force that the brain moves inside the skull. Believe it or not, this is a “brain injury”. Symptoms include:

•             Headache

•             Dizziness and Blurred Vision

•             Nausea and Vomiting

•             Disorientation/Inability to Communicate

•             Memory Loss

•             Difficulty sleeping or concentrating

•             Psychological symptoms include:

•             Mood swings

•             Depression

•             Changes in personality

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