In a recent case before Massachusetts’s Supreme Judicial Court, the court was asked to clarify under what circumstances an injury victim was required to provide 30-day notice in cases involving road defects. In that case, the plaintiff was injured when he was riding his bike and hit a utility cover that was not completely aligned with the road. The plaintiff filed a negligence claim against the city, but the city claimed that an energy company was responsible for the misaligned cover. The plaintiff then brought a negligence claim against the energy company. However, a judge dismissed the plaintiff’s case for failure to provide notice to the company within thirty days of the plaintiff’s injury, as required by statute. The plaintiff appealed.
Under M. G. L. c. 84, § 15 of the Tort Claims Act, the statute generally imposes liability on the county, city, town or “person by law obliged to repair the same” for injuries caused by a defect “in or upon a way.” If a person’s claim falls under § 15, the plaintiff is required to give notice before bringing a claim. Under § 18, a person must provide notice within thirty days of the injury to the county, city, town or “person by law obliged to keep said way in repair.”