What If the Property Owner Didn’t Know About the Hazard That Caused My Injury?
In the state of Florida, property owners and possessors (as well as their employees) owe the highest duty of care to invitees. They must regularly inspect their premises for dangerous conditions, warn invitees about those conditions, and remedy those conditions within a reasonable amount of time. But what if the property owner wasn’t aware that the dangerous condition existed?
Most people who file premises liability claims were business invitees at the time of their injury, meaning they were invited on the property for the economic benefit of the property owner or possessor. To prevail in such a claim, it must be shown that the property owner, possessor, or one of their employees had actual or constructive knowledge of the hazard that caused your injury.
Depending on the circumstances, actual knowledge may be established using the following evidence:
- Records that show the dangerous condition had been reported prior to your injury;
- Building maintenance documents that show the hazard was scheduled to be fixed at a later date;
- Testimony from the person who reported the dangerous condition to the property owner or an employee;
- Surveillance footage that shows an employee noticing the hazard; or
- Documentation proving other people had suffered injuries in the past due to the same dangerous condition.
If none of the above evidence is available and the defendant tries to argue they didn’t have actual knowledge of the dangerous condition, your West Palm Beach premises liability lawyer may still be able to prove constructive knowledge. A property owner or possessor is considered to have constructive knowledge of a hazard if it existed for a significant amount of time prior to your injury. This is because property owners and possessors owe a duty of care to invitees to perform regular inspections of the premises to identify dangerous conditions.
Evidence of constructive knowledge may include:
- Surveillance footage showing when the dangerous condition was created;
- Photos of the hazard that can be analyzed to prove that it had existed for a significant amount of time; or
- Testimony from a person who noticed the dangerous condition before your injury, or from the person who created the dangerous condition.
Our West Palm Beach premises liability lawyers can evaluate your case for free to determine the types of evidence needed to prove liability. We’ll interview eyewitnesses, talk to any employees who were on the property at the time of the accident, and if necessary, file subpoenas to obtain evidence that’s being withheld.What Should I Do If the Insurance Company Calls Me?
The smartest way to handle correspondence with the insurance company is not to speak with them at all but, rather, to direct such dialogue to your West Palm Beach premises liability attorney. At Donaldson & Weston, we can manage this correspondence on your behalf so you don’t provide any recorded statements that can be used to dispute your claim. Because the insurer will likely contact you within days of the accident, it’s a good idea to schedule your free consultation as soon as possible.