Remember the so-called “Footloose ordinance” in the 1984 movie of the same name? The law, which was actually on the books in Fort Smith, AR until 1953, effectively outlawed public dancing on Sundays. Or, how about the “Good Samaritan law” in Latham, MA where the gang from Seinfeld was arrested for failing to help someone in trouble, violating the “duty to rescue” in the final episode? These laws seem shocking, but it may surprise you that some equally shocking laws still exist across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Below are some common scenarios and how Massachusetts laws address them. Can you see yourself or someone you know in a similar situation?
You May be Shocked to Learn That… if you suffer an injury due to a defect in a public roadway or sidewalk, the maximum compensation is limited to just $5,000.
It’s a beautiful day and you decide to walk your child to school, which is only a few blocks from your home. After you’ve dropped her off, you and a few other parents head to the local coffee shop in town for a much-needed iced Americano, but you never make it to the shop. Along the way, your foot catches on a protruding remnant of an old road sign, leading to a nasty fall and rendering you unable to walk any further. The ambulance takes you to the emergency room where you learn that you’ve not only broken your ankle, but also fractured your elbow from trying to brace yourself during the fall. After several hours at the hospital, you arrive home with a cast on your leg and your arm in a sling. A few weeks later, while you remain out of work, the hospital and ambulance bills arrive, totaling tens of thousands of dollars! You feel it only reasonable that the town, by failing to maintain its sidewalk like any other property owner is legally required to do, should shoulder the financial responsibility for your injuries. Unfortunately, you’re in for a nasty shock: If you suffer an injury because of a defect in a public roadway or sidewalk (meaning property owned by the Commonwealth of any city or town therein), regardless of how severe the injury, the most you can legally recover for all your injuries and losses is $5,000! $5,000 is not nearly enough to cover your medical bills, which you now have to pay out of pocket.