Under Massachusetts law, a party who is injured by someone else’s negligence typically has three years from the date of the injury to pursue a claim against the negligent party. In certain cases, however, such as when a person is injured on a public way, the law requires that the injured party provide notice of any potential claim to the allegedly negligent party in a much shorter time frame.
As shown in a recent case decided by the Appeals Court of Massachusetts, the failure to provide notice of a claim for injuries arising from a defective way can be fatal to a plaintiff’s case, regardless of the cause of the delay. If you suffered harm due to an accident caused by a defective way, you should consult a skilled Massachusetts personal injury attorney as soon as possible to discuss your options for seeking damages.
Factual and Procedural History
Allegedly, the plaintiff suffered injuries to her foot while she was walking on a public way in Boston, due to a depression in the road. She provided notice of the claim to the city within thirty days, as required by G. L. c. 84, §§ 15 & 18, commonly referred to as the defective way statute. About three months later, the city sent a letter to the plaintiff denying liability and stating that the defendant gas company was the party responsible for the way in question. The plaintiff sent notice to the defendant gas company the following day and subsequently filed a lawsuit against both the city and the defendant gas company. The defendant gas company filed a motion to dismiss due to late notice, which the court denied. The case proceeded to trial. After the close of the plaintiff’s case, the defendant gas company filed a motion for a directed verdict due to the late notice. The court granted the motion, and plaintiff appealed.