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Brooks & Crowley LLP
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By Neil P. Crowley, Esq. On May 3, 2017, the Lynnway Auto Auction in Billerica was the scene of a tragic accident resulting in three fatalities and multiple people hurt. I received an anxious phone call today from an eyewitness, who described a “chaotic, hectic” scene where a Jeep Grand Cherokee, a vehicle being driven for sale, accelerated through the auto auction lane striking and fatally injuring several people. The Lynnway Auto Auction is the largest auto auction in New England and operates on 58 acres in North Billerica. It operates eight lanes where vehicles to be auctioned are driven through the auction building. The open lanes consist of single lines of hundreds of cars moving through the auction one after another. The vehicles stop inside the building, where auctioneers lead bidders in a quick auction before the car moves on and then bidding immediately begins on the next vehicle. A typical auction takes about one minute. Many take even less time than that. I have visited the auction several times over the years, and am familiar with the layout of the auction facility. Several lanes of cars are open at a time right next to each other in order to make it easy for bidders to look at and bid on cars occupying multiple lanes. Typically, hundreds of people are inside the building during the auction. The Jeep Grand Cherokee was in one of the auction lanes when it suddenly accelerated, striking individuals and driving through the building and into an exterior wall. This was heart-wrenching call to have received today, and our hearts go out to the victims and their families.

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On May 3, 2017, the Lynnway Auto Auction in Billerica was the scene of a tragic accident resulting in three fatalities and multiple people hurt. I received an anxious phone call today from an eyewitness, who described a “chaotic, hectic” scene where a Jeep Grand Cherokee, a vehicle being driven for sale, accelerated through the auto auction lane striking and fatally injuring several people. 

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By Neil Crowley Every year, thousands of children are seriously injured as a result of negligent conduct of others.  From unsafe conditions in homes to negligent driving, children can be especially vulnerable to injuries. Like adults, children are entitled to proper compensation for the full extent of their injuries. But unlike adults, children are not able to submit insurance claims or file lawsuits on their own.  The legal system has developed some important safeguards so that the claims process and courts work just as well when minors are accident victims. Does the Statute Of Limitations Apply To Cases Involving Minors? The statute of limitations in Massachusetts is “tolled” (suspended) for minors.  The three-year time limit within which to file a tort suit only begins to run on the victim’s eighteenth birthday.  So, for example, if an eight year-old suffers an injury on July fourth, the statute of limitations would expire on July fourth of the year thirteen years after the injury.  This can seem like a long time to allow a claim, especially with younger children.  And while there may be several very good reasons to bring a claim earlier while the victim is still a minor, public policy considerations mandate that minors not have their claims extinguished for failure to bring them within the same limitations period as adults. How Is The Claims Process Different? When a minor is injured through another's fault and seeks compensation, an adult (typically a parent) submits the claim to the responsible party’s insurance carrier or files a lawsuit as “next friend” of the minor. The parent is responsible to promote and protect the child’s interests throughout the pendency of the case.  If a settlement is reached with the insurance carrier, then the next step typically involves the filing of a so-called “friendly” suit in order to have a judge review and approve the terms (even where the underlying claim never ended up in court). What Is A Friendly Suit? Most people think of lawsuits as anything but friendly. A “friendly” suit is a lawsuit that resolves the personal injury claim of a minor, once the parties have agreed to a resolution. The lawsuit is the mechanism used for bringing the claim before a court so that a Superior Court judge can review and approve the terms of the settlement. This type of lawsuit is required (by insurance companies) in Massachusetts when a minor’s claim is settled for $10,000.00 or more. Once the lawsuit is filed, the case is scheduled for hearing within a few weeks in the Superior Court having jurisdiction over the underlying case. At the hearing, the Judge will review the facts of the case, the settlement terms, and consider the plan to protect the minor’s settlement funds until the child becomes an adult and can make his or her own financial decisions. Tomorrow, see the rest of the blog which will answer the questions: Why Does A Judge Need To Approve A Minor’s Settlement Of A Personal Injury Claim? What Happens At The Hearing? and What Is A Structured Settlement? For more information on personal injury lawsuits for minor children, contact Brooks and Crowley.

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Congratulations to Michael Quade from Rochester, New York, who won our New England Patriots Playoff Ticket Contest! Michael submitted the winning lawyer joke, and won two great playoff tickets for the January 16th Divisional Game played at Gillette Stadium. Michael drove from Rochester down to New York City to pick up his friend, up to our office to claim his tickets, then straight to Foxboro for the game. His trip was not in vain, as he got to watch our Patriots defeat the Kansas City Chiefs 27-20. Michael got 76 “likes” on Facebook for the following attempt at humor: How do you get a group of lawyers to smile for a photo? Just say, "Fees!" Luckily for Michael, the contest was for the most “likes” and not the funniest joke! Congrats again Michael from all of us at Brooks & Crowley, and good luck to the Pats in the AFC Championship game. Stay tuned, as you could be our next contest winner!

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If you’re funny, you could go to the first Patriots Home Playoff Game! The regular season is over, and the Pats are headed to the playoffs—again. The Pats finished atop the AFC East Division, and second place in their conference; they have earned a first round bye, and will be playing a home playoff game on Saturday, January 16th at 4:35 PM against Cincinnati, Houston, or Kansas City. With several key players coming back from injuries, everyone in Boston can be optimistic about the playoffs. We at Brooks & Crowley want you to enjoy the playoff game at Gillette Stadium in our lower level sideline seats! How can you win? It’s simple - by submitting the most-liked “Lawyer Joke” on our Win Pats Tickets Page. The contest runs through 6:00 PM, Wednesday, January 5, 2016, so there is still time to enter. The joke with the most Facebook “likes” will win a pair of great tickets to the First Pats Home Playoff Game. So take your shot, Pats fans! Submit your joke, tell all your friends to “like” it, and the most “likes” wins. You can only enter once, so make it your best joke! Want to submit a joke? Click here.

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This week's blog message is very simple. All of us at Brooks & Crowley, LLP. wish you and your family the warmest of Holiday greetings and sincere thanks for your continued trust in us. Your trust and continued partnership with us is nothing short of a blessing and it is truly something we celebrate. We offer you this sincere thanks and pledge to you that we will never tire in our efforts to steadily increase the value of our service to you. Happy Holidays and have a safe and healthy New Year!

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The Patriots season is off to a record-breaking start. In fact, they could be headed for an undefeated season. For now, the Pats are in first place in their conference and everyone in Boston has good reason to be very optimistic about the rest of the season. Let’s stay optimistic: we at Brooks & Crowley are confident that the Pats will be hosting their playoff opponents at Gillette Stadium. For this reason, we are giving away a pair of Patriots Playoff Game Tickets for the first home playoff game! If it’s a wildcard game the weekend of January 9-10, that’s what you’ll win. Or if the Pats earn a first round bye and host a divisional game the following weekend, you’ll win those! How can you win?  It’s simple - by submitting the most-liked “Lawyer Joke” on our Win Pats Tickets Page. Starting now through 6:00 PM January 5, 2016,  the joke with the most Facebook “likes” will win a pair of great tickets to the First Pats Home Playoff Game. These are Lower Level Sideline Seats, not anything in the nosebleed section!   So take your shot, Pats fans!  Submit your joke, tell all your friends to “like” it, and the most “likes” wins. You can only enter once, so make it your best one! Want to submit a joke? Click here.

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By Neil Crowley If you seek treatment at an Emergency room for a cut/scar requiring stitches, here is an important tip. There are regional on-call plastic surgeons available to hospitals in their region at any hour. The difference can be substantial. Whereas standard stitching may require just a few stitches, a plastic surgeon will utilize many smaller stitches in the same area, tightly closing the affected area and promoting a smooth, flat surface for healing. The cost of the stitches may not be covered by your health insurance as it may be determined to be elective treatment but it can be well worth the money. Especially if the cut is in a highly visible area. I learned this tip first hand. I suffered a 1.5 inch cut across my face just under my eye socket. At the ER, a nurse suggested I wait while she called a plastic surgeon since the cut was highly visible (It was 9:30PM on a weeknight). The plastic surgeon arrived an hour later and used twenty-two stitches where the ER doctor would have used four. The area completely healed a short time afterwards and no one has ever noticed. The cost of the plastic surgeon was less than $200.00! Easily among the best money I have ever spent. I certainly would have had a permanent scar had the nurse not taken such an interest in my care. During my career and life, I have gathered an extensive amount of knowledge that can help people who are suffering from various injuries. I am happy to share my experience with people in need, feel free to contact me.

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By Neil Crowley When someone is unfortunate enough to suffer a scar as a result of an accident there are several factors an insurance company utilizes when assessing a value to a personal injury that involves a scar. * Location- Where on the body a scar is located is an important factor, ie. on a visible body part as opposed to a usually concealed area. * Size-The size of a scar affects value, as does the shape. Irregular shapes are more visible. Also, smooth cuts or scars are more likely to heal and fade with time. Bumpy cuts and scars are less likely to fade. * Permanency- Some scars aren’t considered to be permanent until they are a year old. Some heal, shrink and fade over time. Some do not. Placement of stitches at the time of injury can determine how well a scar heals. * Female v. Male- Scars are generally worth much more on women than men. Other factors of this type are age/occupation/hobbies. People who work in high visibility jobs are viewed to be affected more than people with lower visibility profiles. At Brooks & Crowley, LLP we have experience in valuing claims for people who have suffered scarring and are currently working on several scarring cases. Feel free to contact us for a consultation.

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By Steven J. Brooks What are your rights if you are hurt at work?  Worker's Compensation laws were designed to provide employees with several basic rights when suffering injuries at the workplace.  In general, employees are entitled to receive payment for lost income, medical expenses, and rehabilitation costs incurred as result of work-related injuries.  Employees are also allowed to collect two-thirds of wages at the time of the injury while unable to work. If injuries are more serious and prevent you from being able to return to work, you may be entitled to a larger settlement (called a “lump sum settlement”) in order to compensate for future lost wages. You may use your own doctor when evaluating and treating for your injuries.  However, your employer’s insurance doctor must also be permitted to examine you.  Keep in mind that these doctors are not your doctors. They will never treat you, and what you tell them is not confidential, unlike with your doctor.  The insurance company’s doctor’s diagnosis may be motivated by their desire to retain future business from the employer’s insurance company. Some of these doctors only see people who are sent to them by insurance companies, and have no private patients of their own.  Consult a personal injury attorney before agreeing to see your employer’s doctor. The report from this doctor's examination can have a major impact on the nature and extent of the benefits you will receive. The types of injuries typically covered by Worker’s Compensation include: * Injuries sustained while performing daily work responsibilities * Pre-existing conditions exacerbated at work * Injuries caused during breaks, lunch hours, and work-sponsored, or mandated activities * Afflictions caused by exposure to toxic chemicals at work The Worker's Compensation system was designed to be a substitute for litigation between employees and employers. It is a so-called “no fault” system, where liability does not need to be proven by the claimant.  The system categorizes the benefits that workers are entitled to, in order to avoid the expense of lawsuits. As a result, if hurt at work you may not sue your employer due to the accident, and there is no right to a jury trial. The major exception to this rule occurs in one of two ways: * If your employer intentionally does something to cause your injury, or * If your injury is caused by a third-party such as an equipment manufacturer, installer or property owner, then you may bring what is known as a third-party claim (against someone other than your employer).   In the above instances, you are not limited to using the Worker’s Compensation system, and are free to look to the third party for your damages. If you have suffered a serious injury at work please call us. We're happy to answer your questions and discuss all of your options.
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