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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.

Accidents at School

Author: Robin Friedman

September 26th, 2014

Everyone is back to school.  Children are in school for a significant part of every day, and we trust schools to safeguard our children.  As a parent, you should be aware that schools have a legal obligation to take reasonable steps to safeguard our children’s safety.

Many schools today have written safety protocols, but accidents can and do happen during school hours.  Accidents can be caused by inadequate supervision, or defective equipment in a gymnasium.  Dangerous conditions can be present in a school building due to negligent maintenance.

The issue of bullying has received much attention in the last few years. Once a school is put on notice of a bullying incident, it has a legal obligation to take steps to protect your child.  Parents know their children better than anyone else, so if your child does not tell you about a bullying incident, hopefully you’ll see the signs, or notice your child is acting differently.  If you become aware that your child is a bullying victim, put the school on notice immediately.  You can send an e-mail to the principal, or another appropriate school official.  Make sure you follow-up, and be persistent in your efforts.  From a legal standpoint proof that the school had prior notice that your child has been bullied is critical.  A school may not be responsible for an injury if it had no reason to be aware of prior bullying incidents.

We can answer any questions you may have.  Call us for a no obligation consult; there is never a fee unless we are successful.

Why Do Domestic Violence Victims Stay With Their Abuser

Author: Robin Friedman

September 15th, 2014

If you are anything like me, you probably watched the video of Ray Rice punching Janay Palmer(now Janay Rice) in the face and cringed with anger and sadness.  I was shocked by the brutality of it.  And then I thought when it couldn’t get much worse, I heard the part of the story about how Ms. Palmer went on to marry Ray Rice and refused to testify against him in court.  It gave me the chills.

Those of us who have not lived through the experience of being in an abusive relationship cannot fathom how anyone would allow a significant other to treat them like that.  Initially, I became angry with Ms. Palmer for marrying Mr. Rice and refusing to testify against him, and that is the natural reaction most of us have. But, it is the wrong reaction.  Statistics show that a victim of domestic violence will attempt to leave her (or his) abuser numerous times before actually leaving for good and ending the relationship.  Leaving exposes the victim to great risk- roughly 75% of women who are killed by their abusers are murdered when they attempt to leave or after they have left a relationship.

We(meaning the friends, family and supporters of victims) cannot effectively convince a victim that she must leave her abuser.  That is a decision that must come from within.  So, the correct response from us in this situation would be to support Ms. Palmer, be a resource for her when she is in need, get her in touch with professionals that can help, and encourage her to make the decision to leave on her own.

If you are ready to leave an abusive relationship and need assistance obtaining a domestic violence protective order, contact one of our family law attorneys to schedule an appointment.

Latest Email Scam

Author: Hogan Willig

January 3rd, 2014

HoganWillig has learned that the New York State Unified Court System and local courts have received inquiries regarding email notices to appear in court proceedings. Many of the notices purport to come from the NYS Unified Court System. The notices also state that the recipient must open an attachment to learn the time and location of the court appearance.  The notices are an email scam and the attachments contain a computer virus.

Members of the public should be aware that the e-mails are not from the New York State Unified Court System and they should delete the emails without opening the attachment.


We Practice Law for Your Peace of Mind