ACTIONS, PROCESS, AND SERVICE OF PROCESS
BODILY INJURY ACTIONS AGAINST GOVERNMENTAL UNITS
In this chapter:
I. "Governmental unit" means any political subdivision within the state including any county, city, town, precinct, school district, chartered public school, school administrative unit, or departments or agencies thereof, or any other body corporate and politic within the state, but does not include the state or any department or agency thereof.
I-a. "Employee or official of a governmental unit" means any member or officer of its governing board, administrative staff, or agencies, including but not limited to county employees, selectmen, school board members, chartered public school trustees, city councilors and aldermen, town councilors, town and city managers, mayors, regional planning commissioners, town and city health officials, police officers, overseers of public welfare, superintendents of schools, and all other employees and officials whether elected or appointed, and whether paid or unpaid, provided he or she is acting within the scope of his or her official duties.
II. "Action to recover for bodily injury" means an action arising out of bodily injury, including an action brought under RSA 556:9-14, whether brought by or on behalf of the person actually sustaining bodily injury or brought by any other person to whom rights may accrue arising out of such injury, regardless of the nature of the damages claimed.
III. "Personal injury" means:
(a) Any injury to the feelings or reputation of a natural person, including but not limited to, false arrest, detention or imprisonment, malicious prosecution, libel, slander, or the publication or utterance of other defamatory or disparaging material, invasion of an individual's right of privacy, invasion of the right of private occupancy, wrongful entry or eviction, mental injury, mental anguish, shock, and, except when against the public policy or the laws of New Hampshire, or both, discrimination; and
(b) Any injury to intangible property sustained by any person as a result of false eviction, malicious prosecution, libel, slander, or defamation.
The term "personal injury" shall not include "bodily injury" or "property damage."
IV. "Property damage" means a loss through injury to, or destruction of, tangible property or real estate.
V. "Pollutant incident" means any emission, discharge, release, or escape of any irritants, noxious substances or radioactive materials, in any physical state, into or upon land, the atmosphere, or any watercourse or body of water, including but not limited to all wastes and materials as defined in RSA 146-A, 147-A, 147-B and 149-M.
Source. 1975, 483:1. 1981, 376:1. 1986, 227:9. 1995, 260:7. 2008, 354:1, eff. Sept. 5, 2008. 2018, 125:1, 2, eff. May 30, 2018.
507-B:2 Liability for Negligence.
A governmental unit may be held liable for damages in an action to recover for bodily injury, personal injury or property damage caused by its fault or by fault attributable to it, arising out of ownership, occupation, maintenance or operation of all motor vehicles, and all premises; provided, however, that the liability of any governmental unit with respect to its sidewalks, streets, and highways shall be limited as provided in RSA 231 and the liability of any governmental unit with respect to publicly owned airport runways and taxiways shall be limited as set forth in RSA 422.
Source. 1975, 483:1. 1981, 376:2. 1991, 385:9, eff. Jan. 1, 1992.
507-B:2-a Repealed by 1991, 385:10, IV, eff. Jan. 1, 1992.
507-B:2-b Snow, Ice, and Other Weather Hazards.
Notwithstanding RSA 507-B:2, a governmental unit shall not be liable for damage arising from insufficiencies or hazards on any premises owned, occupied, maintained, or operated by it, even if it has actual notice of them, when such hazards are caused solely by snow, ice, or other inclement weather, and the governmental unit's failure or delay in removing or mitigating such hazards is the result of its implementation, absent gross negligence or reckless disregard of the hazard, of a winter or inclement weather maintenance policy or set of priorities with respect to such premises, adopted in good faith by the official responsible for such policy. All governmental units, officials, and agents shall be presumed to be acting pursuant to such a policy or set of priorities in the absence of proof to the contrary. Municipal winter maintenance programs certified under RSA 489-C:2-a shall be presumed to meet the standards herein for all public roads, parking areas, and walkways in the absence of proof to the contrary.
Source. 1995, 109:2. 1998, 249:1, eff. Jan. 1, 1999. 2018, 125:3, eff. May 30, 2018. 2021, 204:2, Pt. III, Sec. 6, eff. July 1, 2021.
507-B:3 Compulsory Consolidation of Actions.
All actions to recover for bodily injury, personal injury or property damage arising out of bodily injury, personal injury or property damage to one person shall be tried together, and not otherwise.
Source. 1975, 483:1. 1981, 376:4, eff. Aug. 22, 1981.
507-B:4 Limit of Liability.
I. Liability of a governmental unit for bodily injury, personal injury or property damage sustained by any one person in actions brought under this chapter is limited to $325,000. Such limit applies in the aggregate to any and all actions to recover for bodily injury, personal injury or property damage sustained by one person in a single incident or occurrence. Liability of a governmental unit for bodily injury, personal injury, or property damage sustained by any number of persons in a single incident or occurrence is limited to $1,000,000. The limits applicable to any action shall be the limits in effect at the time of the judgment or settlement.
II. The court shall award no punitive damages against a governmental unit for bodily injury, personal injury or property damage.
III. The jury shall not be informed of the limits in paragraph I but the court shall abate any verdict to the extent it exceeds the limits prescribed in this section. In actions consolidated under RSA 507-B:3, in the event the verdicts exceed the limits prescribed in this section, the verdicts shall be abated pro rata. Interest and costs may be recovered as in any civil action, in addition to the limits prescribed in this section.
IV. If any claim is made or any civil action is commenced against a present or former employee, trustee, or official of a governmental unit seeking equitable relief or claiming damages, the liability of said employee or official shall be governed by the same principles and provisions of law and shall be subject to the same limits as those which govern governmental unit liability, so long as said employee or official was acting within the scope of his or her office and reasonably believed in the legality of his or her actions.
Source. 1975, 483:1. 1981, 376:5. 1986, 227:8. 1995, 260:8. 2007, 356:1. 2008, 354:1, eff. Sept. 5, 2008. 2018, 125:4, eff. May 30, 2018.
507-B:5 Effect on Common Law.
No governmental unit shall be held liable in any action to recover for bodily injury, personal injury or property damage except as provided by this chapter or as is provided or may be provided by other statute.
Source. 1975, 483:1. 1981, 376:6, eff. Aug. 22, 1981.
507-B:6 Property Exempt From Attachment.
No property, either real or personal, of the governmental unit shall be subject to attachment or execution to secure payment of or to satisfy any judgment entered against the governmental unit under this chapter.
Source. 1975, 483:1, eff. July 1, 1975.
507-B:7 Limitation on Actions.
I. Except as provided in paragraph II, no actions shall be maintained against the governmental unit under this chapter unless the same is commenced within 3 years after the time of injury or damage, except that when the injury and its causal relationship to the act or omission were not discovered and could not reasonably have been discovered at the time of the act or omission, the action shall be commenced within 3 years of the time the plaintiff discovers, or in the exercise of reasonable diligence should have discovered, the injury and its causal relationship to the act or omission complained of. As a condition precedent to commencement of the action, the clerk of the governmental unit shall be notified by registered mail within 60 days after the time of the injury or damage or discovery of the injury or damage, if it could not reasonably have been discovered at the time of the occurrence of the injury or damage, as to the date, time and location where the injury or damage occurred, and provided that in any case where lack of written notice, actual knowledge or reasonable opportunity to obtain knowledge of any injury or damage within the 60-day period is alleged by the governmental unit, the burden of proof shall be on the governmental unit to show that it was substantially prejudiced thereby.
II. A person, alleging to have been subjected to any offense under RSA 632-A or an offense under RSA 639:2 by a governmental unit, may commence an action at any time after the injury or damage occurs. The requirement for notification to the clerk of the governmental unit shall not apply to an action based on an offense under RSA 632-A or RSA 639:2.
Source. 1975, 483:1. 1981, 376:7. 1989, 161:1, eff. May 17, 1989. 2020, 24:12, eff. Sept. 18, 2020.
507-B:7-a Insurance Policies Procured by Governmental Agency.
It shall be lawful for the state or any municipal subdivision thereof, including any county, city, town, school district, school administrative unit or other district, to procure the policies of insurance described in RSA 412. In any action against the state or any municipal subdivision thereof to enforce liability on account of a risk so insured against, the insuring company or state or municipal subdivision thereof shall not be allowed to plead as a defense immunity from liability for damages resulting from the performance of governmental functions, and its liability shall be determined as in the case of a private corporation except when a standard of care differing from that of a private corporation is set forth by statute; provided, however, that liability in any such case shall not exceed the limits of coverage specified in the policy of insurance or as to governmental units defined in RSA 507-B, liability shall not exceed the policy limit or the limit specified in RSA 507-B:4, if applicable, whichever is higher, and the court shall abate any verdict in any such action to the extent that it exceeds such limit.
Source. 2003, 144:14, eff. Jan. 1, 2004.
507-B:8 Appropriation to Satisfy Judgment.
Upon entry of final judgment against the governmental unit in any action brought under this chapter, the body charged with the appropriation of funds for the governmental unit shall provide funds through insurance or otherwise to satisfy said judgment within a reasonable time.
Source. 1975, 483:1, eff. July 1, 1975.
507-B:9 Pollutant Liability Standard.
I. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the liability of any governmental unit or public employee for any personal injury, bodily injury, or property damage caused by or resulting from pollutant incidents including, but not limited to, per and polyfluorochemical contamination, shall only be based upon a showing by a preponderance of the evidence that the acts or omissions of the governmental unit were unreasonable. The acts or omissions of a governmental unit or public employee shall be conclusively presumed to be reasonable if they are in accord with the generally prevailing state of the art, scientific knowledge, and technology available to the governmental unit at the time the acts or omissions were undertaken or made by the governmental unit or public employee.
II. If the fault of the governmental unit or public employee arising from a pollutant incident is 50 percent or greater, liability shall be joint and several. Otherwise, governmental units or public employees shall be liable only to the extent that their acts or omissions contributed to the causation of the personal injury, bodily injury, or property damage.
III. The doctrines of strict liability or absolute liability shall not be the basis of liability of a governmental unit or public employee for any personal injury, bodily injury, or property damage caused by pollutant incidents.
Source. 1986, 227:10, eff. June 6, 1986. 2020, 30:8, eff. July 23, 2020.
507-B:10 Statutory Construction.
Nothing contained in this chapter shall be construed to modify or limit the duties, responsibilities or liabilities of government units or their agents owed to the state for pollutant containment, cleanup, removal and restoration as established under state public health and environmental statutes, including but not limited to the following:
I. RSA 125-C, relative to air pollution control.
II. RSA 146-A, relative to oil spillage in public waters.
III. RSA 147, relative to sanitation.
IV. RSA 147-A, relative to hazardous waste management.
V. RSA 147-B, relative to the hazardous waste cleanup fund.
VI. RSA 485, relative to the safe drinking water act.
VII. RSA 485-A, relative to pollution and waste disposal.
VIII. RSA 149-M, relative to solid waste management.
Source. 1986, 227:10. 2004, 116:7, eff. May 17, 2004.
507-B:11 Use of Municipal and School District Facilities for Skateboarding, Rollerblading, Stunt Biking, or Rollerskiing.
A municipality or school district, which without charge permits any person to use a facility operated by the municipality or school district for the purpose of skateboarding, rollerblading, stunt biking, or rollerskiing, shall not be liable for personal injury or property damage resulting from the person's participation in such activity, in the absence of gross and wanton negligence.
Source. 1995, 111:1. 1997, 62:1. 2000, 237:1, eff. June 6, 2000.