SMALL TALK: Personal Injury

By Mark Nowak 19 Jun, 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 vegetatived 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 Mark Nowak 10 May, 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

By Mark Nowak 08 Mar, 2017

M y husband Tony and I were married about three years when we found out we were going to have our second child.  T ony Jr. w as na med after his father and we hop ed to the end of the pregnancy that we would have a baby girl. T his 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 m ight not live through the night.

Angela survived and we spent the next three weeks in the isolation unit at Children’s Hospital. We w ore sterile gowns and could only touch our baby girl throu gh 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 f rom he r brain and drain ing 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 back yard.

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 ho w we survive d.

Angela walked, ran, and wanted to play with the other kids in the neighborhood. That's when my real problems began. I could not se e 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 under water. 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 . S he 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 n ow Angela and I both color our hair.

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

By Mark Nowak 10 Feb, 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 Mark Nowak 20 Jan, 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.


My next story will be about Service Dogs.

By Mark Nowak 16 Dec, 2016

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 Mark Nowak 12 Nov, 2016

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

By Mark Nowak 19 Sep, 2016
In a recent article, the   British Medical Journal   made a claim that medical errors were now the   third leading cause of death in the U.S . , behind only cancer and heart disease. It was reported that every year more than a quarter million people lose their lives as a result of medical errors, which is more than   motor vehicles , firearms, and suicides   combined .   The Journal of Patient Safety   has estimated that between   210,000 and 440,000 patients  annually, who go to the hospital for care, suffer some type of preventable harm that contributes to their death.
By Mark Nowak 27 Jul, 2016

At this time of year, the many boat owners of Western New York are out enjoying the beautiful bodies of water we have in and around Buffalo. Unfortunately, many injuries occur each summer from boating accidents. Most of these injuries can be avoided by following good common sense precautions and by following New York State’s boating regulations.

 According to the “ New York State 2012 Recreational Boating Report ” compiled by New York States Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation, as of December 31st, 2012, there were 463,539 vessels registered in the state. During 2012, the report revealed that there were:

·        241 Reported Accidents

·        126 Injuries

·        26 Fatalities

TWELVE Ways to Avoid an Accident or Injury While Boating

  1. Wear a life jacket while on a boat. The Coast Guard suggests that nearly 80% of all boating fatalities might have been prevented had the victims been wearing a life jacket. A properly donned life jacket is the surest wat to ensure survival in a boating accident.
  2. Don’t drink and drive drunk.  Alcohol is the leading cause of fatal boating accidents in New York State. Between 2005 and 2012, alcohol use was found to be a primary contributing factor in 38 boating accident fatalities.  New York allows open containers in a boat but you may be checked for intoxication. Canada does not allow open containers on board.
  3. Keep an emergency radio or charged cellular phone on board. In case of an emergency, you should have a way to call for help.
  4. Take a Power Squadron boating safety course.  The best way to understand as much about boating as you can before heading out is to take a safe boating class. Find a safe boating class near you .
  5. Keep required safety equipment on board. Be sure that you have a life jacket for each person on board, a fire extinguisher, a visual distress signal, flares, a first aid kit, and even extra fuel, just in case.
  6. Draft a float plan . Complete a float plan before going out on your boat, and leave it with someone reliable. If you don’t return as scheduled, your friend can notify the Coast Guard or local authorities if necessary.
  7. Avoid boating at night. However, if you are out late, make sure you know where you are going, use proper charts or GPS, make sure that your lights are working, and proceed with caution.
  8. Keep your eyes on the water and pay attention when operating your boat.  Operator inattention is one of the most common causes for all boating accidents. Watch for swimmers, kayaks, scuba divers, jet skis, or other small water craft.
  9. Check the Weather. The weather on the lakes and river around Buffalo, NY can change in a moments notice. Make sure you check the weather frequently for any changes in the forecast.
  10. Keep the boat in good condition. Check the fuel, oil level, lights, condition of boat lines, bumpers, bilge for excessive water, batteries, and make sure you have adequate food and water aboard. A properly maintained boat will allow you to avoid a serious injury or death. Did you know that you can have a free vessel safety check by the US Coast Guard Auxiliary ?
  11. Purchase a GPS.  Invest in a GPS or good charts to help you avoid shoals or shallow water.
  12. Watch your speed! Speeding on the water is just as dangerous as it is on the road. It’s also against the law.

If you are the victim of a boating accident and you need legal representation, please call personal injury attorney Craig Z. Small of the Small Law Firm at 716-847-2600 or go to for more information.

Enjoy your summer and your boat! Just remember to follow these important safety tips to avoid personal injury in a boating accident in Buffalo and throughout Western New York. Have fun and be safe!

By Mark Nowak 17 May, 2016

Motorcycle accidents are a common occurrence in Buffalo. Like the millions of Americans who own and ride motorcycles regularly throughout the U.S., our region is very popular with motorcyclists. And, with so many bikes on the roads in Western New York, the number of collisions are high. In the United States, there are over 8 million motorcycles on the roadways. Being on the open road can be invigorating and exciting but riding a bike can also be very dangerous, far more dangerous than riding in a car. Maintaining control is more difficult on two wheels, and when collisions happen, motorcyclists are at greater risk of serious injury or death because they don't have an enclosed vehicle or safety belts for protection. 

A motorcyclist is 26 times more likely to die in a traffic accident than a passenger of a car. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety , more than 40,000 motorcyclists died in crashes and over 88,000 were injured in the year 2013. Sadly we have had several fatal motorcycle accidents already in the early part of the 2016 bike riding season. On the same day just last month, a Buffalo man died in a motorcycle accident  in the city and, in a separate accident, a motorcyclist was seriously injured in North Tonawanda.

Buffalo motorcycle accidents have common causes

Most motorcycle accidents in Buffalo , and the surrounding areas, occur as a result of a collision with other cars or trucks. Motorcycles are often hard to see on roads because of their size and height. There are several other common causes of motorcycle accidents, which include: drivers changing lanes without looking to see if a motorcycle is in their path, or drivers making turns without checking to see if the road is clear first, or failing to yield the right-of-way to motorcycle riders. Motorcycle accidents can also happen when either drivers or motorcycle riders are drunk, drowsy, speeding, distracted, or not following the rules of the road.

The use of a helmet is extremely important, as head injuries are very common among injured motorcyclists. Many states, including New York State, have implemented laws that require motorcyclists to wear proper helmets compliant with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. Helmets are about 37 percent effective in preventing motorcycle deaths and about 67 percent effective in preventing brain injuries. In 2008, 1,829 motorcyclists nationwide were saved by wearing their helmets . Even with the use of a helmet, a motorcyclist’s life can be seriously affected as a result of an accident.

When someone is injured in a Buffalo motorcycle accident, what should you do?

Following a motorcycle accident, it is crucial to get proper medical treatment, regardless of cost. Visit a local emergency room for a medical evaluation. Some of the areas major hospitals include:

The injured person should also contact their insurance company as soon as possible to find out how their medical treatment is covered under their insurance policy. A motorcycle insurance policy will often have unique provisions so it's important to review the policy with their insurance agent for clarification on coverage.

When a motorcycle accident is serious or fatal, it's important to obtain an experienced Buffalo motorcycle crash lawyer

If you get into a motorcycle accident, you can recover compensation for the crash if you can prove another driver was negligent causing the collision. It is important to find an expert motorcycle accident attorney to represent you, like Craig Z. Small, of the Small Law Firm , who will fight passionately on your behalf.

With over 21 years of experience handing motorcycle accident claims, we will guide you through the legal process while providing you the personal attention you would expect and deserve from a small law office. If there is no recovery, then there is no fee. Call Buffalo motorcycle accident lawyer Craig Small for a free consultation. Call (716) 847-2600  or Contact Us   today!

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