Pothole Season - Claim Information for Damage due to Road Defects

It's pothole season! This winter's storms have taken a toll on our roadways. Please be aware of the potholes in the streets and near the curbs.

What to Do if You See a Pothole

Please notify the Department of Public Works at 508-821-1431. If we aren't aware of it, we can't fix it.

If you do encounter a pothole and have damage to your vehicle, you may be eligible for reimbursement. Every claim is investigated and approved or denied based upon the provisions of Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 84.

Information on Pothole Claims

Potholes are generally caused by the combination of the expansion and contraction of freezing and thawing water underneath the road surface and the compression and recompression caused by motor vehicles passing over the surface. Once the surface of the road is broken, the pieces are knocked away by passing cars, and the material underneath is washed away by the rain. Freezing and thawing conditions can produce a very large number of potholes overnight. The DPW sends crews out frequently to fill potholes. Potholes can be reported by calling the DPW at 508-821-1431. Potholes are also caused by contractors who dig up a street to make utility connections or repairs.

Under state law, the city is responsible for repairing defects in public ways. The law does not guaranty the safe condition of public ways. The law makes the city liable for damages caused by defects only if the city fails to make repairs within a reasonable time after the defect is reported. We use 72 hours as a reasonable time within which to repair a pothole after we received notice of its location. Even if the city is negligent for not repairing a pothole on a timely basis, state law prevents the city from paying the claim if the driver was also negligent. Exceeding the speed limit is the most common form of driver negligence.

A claim must be received by the city within 30 days of the incident.

How to File a Claim for Damage Due to Road Defects

Please read, print and fill out a Claim Form for Damages Due to Road Defect (PDF).

Claim forms must be received within 30 days of the incident. If you have any questions please contact the Law Department at 508-821-1172.