Massachusetts Law About Potholes and Road Defects
NOTE: There are different laws depending on whether the problem road is a city or town road or a state road. Be sure to select the proper statute for your situation.
City or Town Roads: MGL c.84, s.15. Personal injuries or property damage from defective ways (City or Town Roads)
State Roads: MGL c.81, s.18 Defects in Highway, Liability (State Roads)
Gregiore vs. City of Lowell, 253 Mass. 119 (1925). Municipality's knowledge of the defect is required.
Ram vs. Town of Charlton, 409 Mass. 481 (1991). MGL c.84, s.15 is the sole remedy for damages from road defects on city or town roads.
Zacharer vs. Town of Wakefield, 291 Mass. 90 (1935). Perfection is not required.
Pothole damage should be reported to the DPW or highway department of the community where it happened. For state roads and highways, contact the Mass. Department of Transportation.
Sample Notice of Claim Form:
- Boston: "If you incurred damages or injuries caused by roadway and sidewalk defects or potholes within city limits, seeking a reimbursement or were involved in a collision with a vehicle owned or leased by the city"
"Defects in Highways and Streets, Potholes, Depression or Ruts," Shepard's Causes of Action, 2 COA 531, s.18, and 10 COA2d 397, s.20.
Motor Vehicle Law and Practice, Mass. Practice, v.11, c.4B (Defects in Public Ways), Thomson/West, 2008 with supplement.
Roadway Safety and Tort Liability, Lawyers and Judges Pub. Co., 2004.