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How to file a claim with the City

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We have information on how you can file a claim with the City of Boston.

Step
1

Find out if you can file a claim

You may file a claim with the City of Boston if you were injured or your property was damaged.  Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • injuries or damage caused by road or sidewalk defects, like potholes, or
  • an accident with a vehicle owned by the City.
Timing of claims:
  • Most claims for injuries or damages related to road and sidewalk defects must be received by the City within 30 days of the incident.  (MGL, Chapter 84)
  • All other negligence-based claims generally must be received by the City within two years of the incident.  (MGL, Chapter 258)
Please note:

The City is responsible for many but not all roadways and sidewalks in the City of Boston.  For example, some streets are under the control of the:

The City of Boston Streetbook is the City’s centralized record of street ownership within the City of Boston.

City streets and sidewalks are occupied by many fixtures that are controlled by outside entities. These include utility companies and the Boston Water and Sewer Commission. Boston City ordinances require outside entities to maintain the pavement around their fixtures. They also impose responsibility on those entities for asphalt problems and other defects. If you believe you may have a claim against one of these outside entities, filing a claim with the City does not satisfy any other filing requirements with these outside entities. It also does not delay any applicable filing deadlines.

The City of Boston uses contractors for some City services, and may not be responsible for damages that those contractors cause.  If you incurred damages related to any of the following vehicles or services, you may wish to contact those entities directly:

  • Boston Public Schools school buses: Transdev
  • Trash and recycling: Capitol Waste
  • Snow plows: Numerous companies

Not sure whether it was a City or contractor plow that caused your damages, or which contractor it was? You may make a public records request to the City for more information.  Please make sure to include the location, date, and time of the incident in your request.  

Step
2

Prepare your claim

If you wish, you may use the City’s claim form. This form can be filled out on a computer or by hand. But, it must be submitted in hard copy:

Download City claim form

Your claim should include the following pieces of information:

  • Your name, address, phone number, and email address
  • The date and time of the incident
  • A description of the incident and how it caused your claimed damages
  • For motor-vehicle accidents: plate numbers, vehicle makes and models, drivers, passengers, and insurance information
  • The location where the incident happened
  • For sidewalk or roadway defects: a detailed description, including the address, landmarks, physical description, and dimensions
  • A complete listing of all claimed damages including dollar figures
  • The $15 filing fee

To better process your claim, we recommend that you also include:

  • An itemized estimate or receipt of damages, or both
  • Copies of the police report and operator report
  • High-definition and preferably color photos of the damage or defect.

For insurance companies filing subrogation claims, please list both property damages and Personal Injury Protection (PIP) damages when submitting your claim. Please include the following records:

  • All reports and statements by drivers, passengers, and witnesses involved
  • High-resolution (preferably color) photos of all vehicle damage (if available in electronic format, these may also be emailed later once the City has responded to your initial claim)
  • Itemized estimates
  • Itemized proof of payment
  • For PIP: medical bills and medical treatment records
Step
3

File your claim

The City of Boston does not accept initial claim filings by email or fax. You must sign and submit your claim in hard copy, either in person or by mail, to the City Clerk’s Office at:

Boston City Hall
Office of the City Clerk
One City Hall Square, Room 601
Boston, MA 02201-2014
Hours: Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Note: Our staff processes daily transactions until 4 p.m.

Remember the Filing fee:
  • The filing fee for a claim is $15.
  • When filing in person, you can pay by check, credit card, debit card, or cash.
  • When you file a claim by mail, please include a check. Checks should be made payable to the City of Boston.
  • If the City compensates you on your claim, the City will reimburse the $15 filing fee.
Step
4

The City processes the claim

The City Clerk is only responsible for processing the initial filing of a claim and the filing fee. Once the claim has been filed, the City’s Law Department handles all other review and processing of the claim. The City Clerk’s office does not have any involvement in this process.

Have questions?

For questions regarding the filing fee, you may contact the City Clerk’s Office at 617-635-4601.

For questions about the status of an existing claim, you may contact the Law Department at 617-635-4034 or send an email to law@boston.gov.  When contacting the Law Department, please reference the:

  • date of incident
  • full claimant’s name
  • claim type, and
  • claim number (if you have one).
Need to Know:
  • The information provided on this website is for general guidance only. It does not constitute legal advice.  If you wish to have legal counsel regarding your claim, you should consult with your own attorney.
  • If the City denies your claim, you can file a suit in court within three years of the incident.
Contact:
City Clerk
1 City Hall Square
Room 601
Boston, MA 02201-2014

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