Special Events: Whose Party Is This, Anyway?

As local officials, we are often asked for permission to use public facilities. This may involve indoor events, such as an anniversary party in the town hall, or an educational talk in the library, or an evening of training at the fire department. Outdoor events may involve use of sports or recreational facilities for adult league play, or a summer road race on local roads, a soccer or tennis camp operated by a private vendor on a public facility, or outdoor concerts at a local park. Most of these requests are routinely granted, because they add to the quality of community life.

Dogs and Cats: Some of the Laws Affecting Our Four-Legged Friends

Dogs are especially fortunate—at least that is how it must seem to the thousands of New Hampshire cats who, unlike their dog friends, do not get to experience the privilege of being licensed by their human owners. You see, while the law allows a municipality to require the licensing of cats it does not require licensing as it does for dogs. At just four months of age, a dog is eligible for an official license from the town or city it lives in and can proudly show off its shiny license tag to its less fortunate feline friends!

Public Safety on the Roadways: Duties and Protections Under the Law

It is easy to take public facilities for granted. Keeping those facilities maintained and in repair is not an easy task, and use of facilities such as highways or the town hall often cannot stop while municipal staff or contractors perform the work. In the recent New Hampshire Supreme Court case of Appeal of the New Hampshire Department of Transportation, decided October 28, 2005, the court was faced with the claim of a motorist whose vehicle was damaged by a state snowplow.

Vegetation Clearance and the Insufficiency Law: What's the Municipal Responsibility?

Q. Must a municipality clear vegetation from a town or city highway right of way if the vegetation obstructs a motorist’s view of a “stop” sign installed by the State of New Hampshire at the intersection of a state and town highway?

Dealing with Homeland Security Issues at the Local Level

In the post 9/11 era, municipalities have renewed their focus on local emergency management duties. Disasters may result from acts of nature, or from the negligent or intentional acts of people. Emergency management is the process of planning for an incident, taking steps to prevent the occurrence of the incident if possible, responding to an incident should one occur, followed by efforts to recover from the negative impacts upon persons, property and economic activities caused by the incident.

Municipal Building Projects: Balancing Liability Concerns and Design Recommendations

Q. If someone using public property is injured, can the municipality be held liable for damages?

A. Yes. If a person is injured at a municipal facility, they can claim that the municipality is liable for the injuries if the facility was negligently constructed or maintained. Negligence is a type of tort, based upon a wrongful action or failure to act, that violates a duty to a person and is the cause of some injury.

Understanding the Special Legal Issues that Apply to Bridges

Some are surprised to learn that a bridge that services a public road is part of the public highway. A bridge is defined as a structure on a public highway that has a clear span of 10 feet or more, which spans a water course or other opening or obstruction. RSA 234:2. As part of the public highway, legal issues are, for the most part, identical to any other municipal road. However, some issues are unique to bridges. The following is a brief overview of maintenance and liability issues relating to bridges.

Slips, Trips and Falls in the School Setting

Most of us don’t consider walking—something we do nearly every day of our lives—to be hazardous. Yet, that simple act results in a significant number of slip, trip and fall injuries in our schools each year.

At times, a slip, trip or fall may result in only a minor injury that brings temporary discomfort. However, some of these accidents cause extensive injuries which drastically impact the employee—not only physically but socially and economically, too.

Playground Supervision: A Big Responsibility

School is out, and summer camp is in. Many of our towns and schools are hosting summer camps at their local facilities. A focal point of the day is the playground.

Taking Risks

Children love playgrounds. Playgrounds provide an opportunity for youngsters to explore and take risks, which assists in their physical, emotional and psychological development. Due to this exploration and risk taking, there is an expectation that injuries will occur on playgrounds.

TULIP Program Starts to Bloom by Helping Members Provide Special Events Coverage

New Hampshire Local Government Center’s Property-Liability Trust (PLT), which provides property and liability coverage to municipalities, schools, counties and various political subdivisions of the State of New Hampshire, has had a successful first year of sponsoring a Tenant Users Liability Insurance Policy (TULIP) program for individuals or clubs needing coverage for private events on public property.