While often referred to as “slip and fall” accidents, the nature of your legal rights falls under the category of premises liability if you were hurt in such an incident. As with many other personal injury claims, the basis of these claims is negligence. You can recover compensation if you can prove that a property owner knew or should have known about a dangerous condition on the premises, and that person or entity failed to address it – either by fixing the hazard or warning others.
However, the language “knew or should have known” often confuses people in terms of proving the essential elements of a premises liability case. In short, the phrase relates to a property owner having notice of the dangerous condition. The legal details are much more complicated, which is why you should trust a Miami slip and fall accidents attorney to assist with your case. Some general information may also be helpful.
The “Notice” Requirement
You will always need to prove notice in a premises liability case, but there are two different bases for the requirement:
- Under Florida’s statute on slip and fall accidents, you need to prove notice to recover damages. The law specifically applies to incidents involving a “transitory” substance – i.e., something that does not belong on the premises.
- Common law premises liability concepts require you to prove that the property owner’s actions were unreasonable under the circumstances. This is where knowledge – notice – enters the picture.
How Constructive Notice Works
There is an easy way to prove notice when the property owner actually knows about the danger. Unfortunately, it is difficult to collect evidence on this element unless you directly observed the individual see it and ignore it. Therefore, you must often rely on constructive notice – the “should have known” aspect of notice.
Under Florida law, constructive knowledge may be established by showing that:
- The dangerous condition existed for so long that the property owner would know about it; or,
- The hazard was one that occurred frequently, such that it was foreseeable that the condition would be present.
Constructive notice is often closely tied with the property owner’s duty to inspect the premises to ensure there are no dangers that could cause a slip and fall accident. With respect to a hazard that has been present for a long time, the property owner should discover it when conducting inspections. A spill or other safety issue that happened moments ago may not meet this standard. The same logic applies when the dangerous condition is NOT a frequent one, since the property owner could not be reasonably expected to discover and remedy it.
Discuss Proof Issues with a Miami Slip and Fall Accidents Lawyer
If you have been injured because of a hazardous condition on another’s property, proving notice is an essential aspect of your claim. At Gerson & Schwartz, PA, our team has extensive experience representing clients in these matters and we are prepared to tackle the legal challenges. Please contact our firm today to schedule a free consultation at our offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or West Palm Beach, FL.