Does It Matter If the Property Owner Knew About the Hazard That Caused My Injury?
To win a settlement or verdict in a premises liability case, it must be shown how the property owner or possessor breached the duty of care owed to the claimant (or to their deceased family member in the case of wrongful death), and how this breach of duty caused damages. The breach of duty owed to a person who is on someone else’s property depends on whether that person is an invitee, invited licensee, uninvited licensee, or trespasser.
Most premises liability cases are filed by business invitees. These are individuals who are invited on a property for business dealings with the property owner or possessor. Examples include shoppers at a supermarket and diners at a restaurant.
Property owners and possessors have a duty to warn invitees about dangerous conditions about which the property owner or possessor (or their employees) have actual or constructive knowledge. Actual knowledge, also called “actual notice,” means the property owner, possessor, or an employee was aware that the dangerous condition existed. For example, if a customer at a grocery store tells an employee that a drink was spilled on aisle one, that employee has a duty to remedy the dangerous condition within a reasonable amount of time—i.e. to clean the spill and/or post clearly visible warnings to protect other customers from slipping and falling.
Constructive knowledge means the property owner, possessor, or an employee should have known about the dangerous condition through the exercise of reasonable diligence. To protect invitees, property owners have a duty to inspect their premises regularly for dangerous conditions, so if a hazard exists on the premises for a significant amount of time, the property owner may be considered to have constructive knowledge of it. Constructive knowledge can also be established by proving the recurrence of a dangerous condition.
The following evidence might be used by your Hobe Sound premises liability lawyer to prove actual or constructive knowledge:
- Building Maintenance Records: These records might demonstrate a recurring dangerous condition that the property owner failed to adequately remedy. Documentation of maintenance tasks that had been scheduled to take place in the future might demonstrate that the property owner had actual knowledge of the dangerous condition that caused your injury.
- Surveillance Footage: Video footage might show how long the hazard existed before the injury occurred, thus establishing constructive knowledge. Such footage might also show a customer reporting a dangerous condition to an employee or the creation of the dangerous condition through the employee’s negligence.
- Eyewitness Testimony: If anyone saw the hazard that injured you or had reported the hazard to the property owner or an employee, our Hobe Sound premises liability attorneys might use his or her testimony to prove liability.
- Documentation of Past Complaints: If there are records of the dangerous condition being reported, they might be used to establish actual knowledge.
- Records of Similar Accidents: If there’s documentation to prove that other people had been injured by the same dangerous condition, these records may be used to establish actual knowledge.