We Practice Law for Your Peace of Mind

Bankruptcy and Your Credit Score

Author: Robin Friedman

November 11th, 2014

For many people considering bankruptcy, the process can appear foreign and overwhelming. While it offers the ability for consumers to discharge debts and obtain a financial fresh start, it does affect consumers in other ways. One of the most common concerns we hear from clients exploring their bankruptcy options is how it will affect their credit.

There are a lot of myths surrounding bankruptcy, especially in regard to how it affects credit. Contrary to what you may have heard, filing bankruptcy does not permanently ruin credit. Although a bankruptcy filing will be visible on credit reports, the effects are temporary and in no way ruinous. Typically, Chapter 7 bankruptcy will remain on your credit for up to 10 years and Chapter 13 bankruptcy for up to 7 years.

Unlike some myths may lead you to believe, filing bankruptcy does not mean consumers will be blacklisted or barred from making purchases or obtaining loans in the future. Still, taking proactive and educated steps to rebuild one’s credit after bankruptcy is crucial.

For many consumers, bankruptcy allows them to gain control of their finances and prepare for the future. By practicing responsible credit behavior and exercising one’s financial freedom, consumers can effectively rebuild their credit score. This can be achieved by using low-limit credit cards, practicing responsible spending, and making it a priority to always make payments. In many cases, consumers are able to restore their credit to much higher scores than they had before filing bankruptcy.

At HoganWillig, our bankruptcy attorneys are passionate about guiding clients through the bankruptcy process, addressing their concerns, and helping them achieve future success. Helping clients understand how bankruptcy affects their credit score is part of this process.

If you have questions about bankruptcy and your credit, or how our firm can help, call 636-7600 for a free consultation.

Winter Preparation

Author: Krystal Chapin

November 7th, 2014

As we dive into the month of November, we realize that winter is right around the corner. Make sure you are prepared before the winter weather hits with these tips!

  • Create an emergency kit to have in your home when a storm hits. Some ideas on supplies to add are rock salt, nonperishable foods, bottled water, shovels, firewood, candles, and blankets.
  • Make a family communication plan. Your family may all not be together when a storm hits so it is important to plan how you will contact each other, how you will get back together, and what to do in case of an emergency.
  • Winterize your vehicle. Have a mechanic check your anti-freeze levels, brakes, oil, and tires. Consider investing in snow tires to help your vehicle traverse the winter months with ease. Also make sure to keep a moderately full tank of gas during the winter months. If you get stranded in your car, the engine may be your only heat source.
  • Add an emergency kit to your car. Items such as an ice scrapper, a blanket, gloves, food, water, and jumper cables will come in handy if you ever get caught in a blizzard in your car.
  • Make sure to have your chimney inspected before use. The National Fire Prevention Association recommends that fireplaces be inspected and cleaned annually. This is important because creosote, which is deposited in the chimney each time a fire is lit, is a highly flammable substance that can start a hazardous chimney fire.
  • Pet owner’s habits should change as the seasons do! Remember to take extra precautions with pets as the temperatures begin to drop. Don’t leave animals outside for extended periods of time. They get cold too and can suffer from the same cold-weather hazards as humans, such as frostbite and hypothermia.
  • With extra people around during the holidays, caution others against feeding your animals “people food”. Turkey and chicken can have small bones that can cause serious choking hazards. Chocolate is poisonous to dogs, as well as acorns and oak leaves.

Don’t let winter sneak up on you! Be prepared with these tips from your friends at HoganWillig.

Hospital missed chance to diagnose Ebola patient

Author: Robin Friedman

November 3rd, 2014

A patient who showed up at a Dallas area hospital complaining of fever and headache and was misdiagnosed as a potential Ebola case has passed away. However, in the wake of the man’s death, the hospital is still under fire for missing the diagnosis.  According to a fiercehealthcare.com report, the man was initially diagnosed with a low-grade viral infection and was sent home with an antibiotic, despite claims from his sister that he told hospital workers that he had just come back from Liberia.

It appears that a critical piece of information was not shared with healthcare workers, who (in hindsight) should have isolated him to prevent a further outbreak.  It is reported that this man may have come into contact with nearly 80 people.

In the meantime, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had sent hospitals a special checklist to prepare for potential Ebola cases.  Indeed, hospitals are on the lookout for additional cases.  Some are even asking every patient coming to an emergency room or for a scheduled appointment above recent travel overseas.

But for the Texas hospital, it remains to be seen whether a malpractice suit may be raised.  After all, hospitals have a duty to use reasonable care in the treatment of patients. Asking additional questions after the man described his symptoms and indicated where he had traveled would have been prudent, and would have fulfilled such a duty.  Since doctors were not able to isolate him and treat him early, it will be interesting to see whether this will play a factor in a future lawsuit.

Halloween Health and Safety Tips

Author: Robin Friedman

October 31st, 2014

Fall celebrations like Halloween and Harvest Day are fun times for children, who can dress up in costumes, enjoy parties, and eat yummy treats. These celebrations also provide a chance to give out healthy snacks, get physical activity, and focus on safety.

Check out these tips to help make the festivities fun and safe for trick-or-treaters and party guests.

Going trick-or-treating?

S – Swords, knives, and other costume accessories should be short, soft, and flexible.

A - Avoid trick-or-treating alone. Walk in groups or with a trusted adult.

F - Fasten reflective tape to costumes and bags to help drivers see you.

E - Examine all treats for choking hazards and tampering before eating them. Limit the amount of treats you eat.


H - Hold a flashlight while trick-or-treating to help you see and others see you. Always WALK and don’t run from house to house.

A - Always test make-up in a small area first. Remove it before bedtime to prevent possible skin and eye irritation.

L - Look both ways before crossing the street. Use established crosswalks wherever possible.

L - Lower your risk for serious eye injury by not wearing decorative contact lenses.

O - Only walk on sidewalks whenever possible, or on the far edge of the road facing traffic to stay safe.

W - Wear well-fitting masks, costumes, and shoes to avoid blocked vision, trips, and falls.

E - Eat only factory-wrapped treats. Avoid eating homemade treats made by strangers.

E - Enter homes only if you’re with a trusted adult. Only visit well-lit houses. Never accept rides from strangers.

N - Never walk near lit candles or luminaries. Be sure to wear flame-resistant costumes.

Expecting trick-or-treaters or party guests?

Follow these tips to help make the festivities fun and safe for everyone:

  • Provide healthier treats for trick-or-treaters such as low-calorie treats and drinks. For party guests, offer a variety of fruits, vegetables, and cheeses.
  • Use party games and trick-or-treat time as an opportunity for kids to get their daily dose of 60 minutes of physical activity.
  • Be sure walking areas and stairs are well-lit and free of obstacles that could result in falls.
  • Keep candle-lit jack o’lanterns and luminaries away from doorsteps, walkways, landings, and curtains. Place them on sturdy tables, keep them out of the reach of pets and small children, and never leave them unattended.
  • Remind drivers to watch out for trick-or-treaters and to drive safely.

Supreme Court to Protect Information on Cell Phones

Author: Robin Friedman

October 24th, 2014

The digital age has created a world in which over-sharing is the norm and electronic devices are capable of storing significant amounts of one’s personal information. However, in an important step to protect the privacy of U.S. citizens, the Supreme Court has declared information on cell phones and smart phones off-limits for warrantless searches. The major exception is in cases of exigency, where immediate need to save lives justifies warrantless entry.

While law enforcement officials will no longer be able to search through the contents of a person’s cell phone upon taking that person into custody, they are permitted to do so if they obtain a warrant. With the development of new technology and devices with seemingly unlimited capabilities, the boundaries of this new ruling are sure to be tested and expanded in years to come.  If you or your company has any questions or concerns regarding e-discovery related issues, please call us at (716) 636-7600.

Assistance with Home Energy Costs – HEAP Benefits

Author: Linda Grear

October 8th, 2014

According to a recent New York Times article, the US Energy Department projects a warmer forecast this coming winter season. After enduring frigid temperatures and higher energy costs last winter, many American consumers will spend less this winter. Because temperatures are forecast to be warmer than last winter, that will mean less demand for heat.

The Energy Department estimated in a report on winter fuels that roughly half of American households that heat with natural gas can expect a decline of 5% in their gas expenditures. Homes that rely on heating oil can expect to spend 15% less this winter because of the recent drop in world oil prices. Homes that heat primarily with electricity can expect to save 2%. But the biggest savers will be users of propane who are expected to spend 34% less this winter, because of 24% lower prices and lower consumption.

The lower energy prices should help consumers, particularly seniors living on a fixed income, who spend a high proportion of their income on energy costs. There is also assistance available to help low income New Yorkers with the cost of heating their homes with HEAP (Home Energy Assistance Program). HEAP is a federally funded program for assistance with home heating costs and energy conservation for eligible households. There may be assistance with assistance for heat and electricity costs, as well as furnace repair or replacement to keep the home’s primary heating source functional.

For 2014-2015: To qualify for assistance with heat and electricity costs, the total household monthly income for a single person must be at or below $2,194. For a two-person household, the monthly income must be at or below $2,869.

To apply for HEAP, you may contact your local County Department of Social Services. In Erie County, New York, the phone number is (716) 858-7644.

For more information regarding elder law issues, please contact HoganWillig, Attorneys at Law at (716)636-7600 or visit www.hoganwillig.com. HoganWillig’s main office is located at 2410 North Forest Road in Amherst, New York with additional offices in Lockport, Lancaster and Buffalo.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Author: Krystal Chapin

October 1st, 2014

With the start of the month of October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, HoganWillig wants to make sure Western New Yorkers are well informed about this devastating disease. Knowledge is power and prevention is key. Here are some quick facts about the disease:

  • One in eight U.S. women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.
  • Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women.
  • Each year it is estimated that over 220,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer and more than 40,000 will die.
  • Although breast cancer in men is rare, an estimated 2,150 men will be diagnosed and approximately 410 will die each year.

Every person should know the symptoms and signs of breast cancer, and any time an abnormality is discovered, it should be investigated by a healthcare professional.  Most people who have breast cancer symptoms and signs will initially notice only one or two, and the presence of these symptoms and signs do not automatically mean that you have breast cancer. Be sure to see your health care provider if you:

  • Find a new lump (or any change) that feels different from the rest of your breast
  • Find a new lump (or any change) that feels different from your other breast
  • Feel something that is different from what you felt before

If you are unsure whether you should have a lump (or any change) checked, it is best to see a provider. Although a lump (or any change) may be nothing to worry about, you will have the peace of mind that it has been checked. By performing monthly breast self-exams, you will be able to more easily identify any changes in your breast.  Be sure to talk to your healthcare professional if you notice anything unusual.

What’s the good news? In the U.S., we have seen a gradual reduction in female breast cancer incidence rates among women aged 50 and older. Death rates from breast cancer have been declining since 1990, in part due to better screening and early detection, increased awareness, and continually improving treatment options. It is recommended that women 40 and older have mammograms every 1 to 2 years.

We live in time where technology is not only helping doctors detect earlier, treat, and cure breast cancer, but it can also help people become more proactive about their breast health. An app created by the National Breast Cancer Foundation called Early Detection Plan: Breast Cancer allows users to be reminded to perform a routine breast self-exam and schedule clinical breast exams and mammograms, depending on age and health history. The app also functions as a resource in which users can learn more about clinical breast exams, mammograms, risk factors, signs and symptoms, and how to perform a breast self-exam. This app can be found in the iTunes app store and is free.


We Practice Law for Your Peace of Mind