How to Prove Constructive Knowledge of a Hazard in Florida Slip and Fall Lawsuits?
Under Florida law, property owners and occupiers are legally required to maintain their premises free of hazards. If the owner cannot ensure that their property is safe for visitors and guests, they can be held liable for any resulting injuries and losses.
Visitors and guests who sustain injuries in slip and fall accidents on someone else’s property may pursue compensation for their injury. However, in order to prevail in a premises liability case, Florida law requires the plaintiff to prove that the owner of the property had “actual” or “constructive” knowledge of the condition that caused their injury.
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When a slip and fall accident is caused by a “transitory foreign substance,” the injured person may be entitled to compensation pursuant to Section 768.0755, Florida Statutes. The Supreme Court of Florida explained in a 2001 case that a transitory foreign substance is an object or substance located where it does not belong.
Establishing actual or constructive knowledge is challenging, which is why it is advised to seek the help of a Winter Haven slip and fall accident lawyer to investigate your case and help you get the compensation you deserve.
Proving constructive knowledge of a dangerous condition
If you slipped and fell due to a dangerous condition on someone else’s property, you must prove that the owner or occupier of the property had “actual” or “constructive” knowledge of the hazard. But what’s the difference between the two?
- A property owner had actual knowledge of the hazard when they were fully aware of the condition prior to the plaintiff’s injury. In most cases, an owner or its employees have actual knowledge when they saw the dangerous condition or were notified of it.
- Constructive knowledge is when the dangerous condition occurred regularly and thus was foreseeable by the property owner, or it existed for so long that the owner or its employees should have reasonably learned about it and fixed it.
In most premises liability cases, property owners do not admit that they had actual knowledge of the hazard that led to the plaintiff’s injury in an attempt to avoid liability. In this case, the only way to seek compensation would be to prove that the owner had constructive knowledge of the hazard.
What evidence do you need to establish constructive knowledge?
In order to establish constructive knowledge when the hazard existed for so long that the owner should have been aware of it or the condition was foreseeable because it occurred regularly, you will need to collect the following types of evidence:
- Photos from the scene of your slip and fall accident showing the hazardous condition, footprints, wheel marks, the condition of the hazard, and other details;
- Video surveillance footage showing that the property owner or their employees actually saw the hazard but failed to do anything about it;
- Witness statements from those who saw how your accident happened; and
- Complaints of the dangerous condition or reports of similar accidents on that property.
Our detail-oriented and knowledgeable Winter Haven slip and fall attorney at The Turnbull Firm can help you gather all necessary evidence to build a strong legal claim and hold the property owner liable for your injuries. Call 863-324-3500 to schedule a case review.