Pothole Claims

Claims for defects in or on public ways in Massachusetts are governed by M.G.L. Chapter 84, Section 15 which lays out a number of conditions necessary to establish liability under the statute and establishes a maximum damage cap of $5,000.
 
For purposes of this Advisory, two important elements of Chapter 84, Section 15 will be highlighted from the perspective of municipal risk management. 
 
Breach
 
Breach- Breach of duty requires two key elements: (1) notice of the condition, and (2) an opportunity to repair the defect. A person filing a claim must establish that the municipality had either actual or constructive notice of the defect prior to the accident. In addition, they must also prove the municipality had a reasonable opportunity to repair the defect prior to the loss and failed to do so.
 
 
Notice of Claim
 
Notice of Claim- a person intending to file a road defect claim must provide written notice to the municipality within (30) days of the incident. The written notice must contain specific information sufficient to allow a municipality to investigate. 


For a more complete understanding of Chapter 84, Section 15 please refer to the attached link which includes the actual statute. 
M.G.L. Chapter 84, Section 15