Who pays for damage caused by potholes? - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Who pays for damage caused by potholes?

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Potholes have been a fact of life in western Massachusetts since there have been roads. Some years are worse than others and authorities in several communities have said this winter has been very bad.

Greenfield Director of Public Works Arthur Baker said they have spent twice as much on road patching material this year over last year. He released a statement Thursday talking about the pothole problem in town. The statement also touched on who was responsible to pay for damage done by potholes.

It said in part, "According to Massachusetts General Law Chapter 84, for a municipality to be found responsible for damages caused by alleged defects in the public way the municipality must have received sufficient prior notice of the defect. When the DPW itself finds a pothole or one is reported, it is immediately entered into the department's work order system. Most potholes are repaired within a reasonable amount of time; if immediate repair to a serious pothole can not be made it is barricaded, in order to warn the public.

Again, drivers need to exercise caution this time of year. Repairs from pothole damage can be very expensive and because here in Greenfield the department responds quickly to potholes it is very rare that a claim for damage is awarded."

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation said the liability on state roads was covered under a different law. It basically states Massachusetts would not pay for damage unless the pothole caused a crash resulting in death or serious injury, and the pothole was the sole cause of the crash.

Local communities and MassDOT urged drivers to report potholes as soon as possible.

If you see a pothole on a state road, contact MassDOT at 857-DOT-INFO (857-368-4636), Toll Free at 877-MA-DOT-GOV (877-623-6846), or visit their web page to send an email.

Potholes on municipal roads need to be reported to the city or town.

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