Law Department

The Law Department represents the City of Somerville as a municipal corporation. In particular, the Department provides representation to the Mayor, the Board of Aldermen, all departments of the City and most of its boards and commissions. Such representation includes active litigation matters as well as legal opinions. As general legal counsel to the City, as a corporation, the City Solicitor’s Office is prohibited from providing legal representation or legal advice to members of the public. Therefore, if you have a private dispute, the Law Department cannot advise you how to proceed. If you are seeking legal services, you may wish to contact the agencies listed below (under 'Other Resources').

  • How to File a Claim

  • Landlord-Tenant Mediation Programs

Filing a Notice of Claim Against the City

This is an outline of the City's administrative procedures to process a request for compensation due to injuries or damages caused by road or sidewalk defects or potholes on public ways within the City, or by automotive collisions with vehicles owned by the City.

Step 1: File a Notice of Claim

In order to facilitate your claim, write a letter—called a Notice of Claim—to the City Clerk, 93 Highland Avenue, Somerville, MA 02143. Please include the following:

  1. Your name, address, and phone number,

  2. The exact time and date of the incident,

  3. The exact location of the incident,

  4. A precise description of the defect that led to the incident (if applicable),

  5. A detailed statement of facts,

  6. A description of the remedy you seek,

  7. Any itemized receipts or estimates showing the injury or damage suffered, and

  8. Any photographs or other supporting information.

It is recommended that you retain a copy of whatever you provide us for your records.

There is a 30 day period (Mass. General Law Ch. 84) from the date of the injury due to a road or sidewalk defect or pothole, and a 2 year period (Mass. General Law Ch. 258) from the date of the motor vehicle accident, to file a claim. For further information, Massachusetts General Laws are located on the State Legislature's website at http://www.mass.gov/legis/laws/mgl/index.htm.

Step 2: Claims Processing

The claim is logged in by the City Clerk and forwarded to the Law Department. The Law Department investigates your claim. Please understand that the Law Department requires sufficient time to complete the investigation, and allow 6 to 8 weeks before inquiring about your claim. Direct all questions and concerns to the Law Department at 617-625-6600 x4400.

Step 3: Please Note

Your claim will not be processed if it arrives after the period for filing a claim has passed.

To preserve your rights, if the City does not pay your claim, you can file suit in an appropriate court within 3 years of the date of the incident.

THIS IS NOT INTENDED TO BE LEGAL ADVICE. PLEASE CONTACT AN ATTORNEY FOR A MORE DETAILED EXPLANATION OF YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS.

A mediation program through the Somerville Community Corporation is held at Somerville High School. Contact Alice Comack 617-625-6600, extension 6146. This program is partially funded by the Somerville Affordable Housing Trust Fund.

Just a Start has a landlord-tenant mediation program and it is also partially funded by the Somerville Affordable Housing Trust Fund. Contact Peter Shapiro at 617-494-0444 x317.

Cambridge and Somerville Legal Services provide assistance to tenants. Their intake number is 617-371-1234 and callers can ask for Ellen or Susan.