Actual v. Constructive Notice in Florida Slip and Fall Cases

People tend to point at motor vehicle accidents as the biggest safety concern, so you might be surprised to learn how slip and fall incidents rank in terms of harm to victims. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost 37,500 people are killed every year because of unintentional injuries from falls. In addition, more than 6.8 million victims seek treatment in hospital emergency rooms annually from accidental slip and falls. While it is true that the elderly are more at risk, the statistics reveal that these incidents affect all age groups. 

Fortunately, Florida personal injury laws protect the interests of victims. The concept of premises liability applies, though many people refer to accidents as “slip and falls” because of how they happen. Premises liability deals with a property owner’s duty, which depends in part upon having notice of a dangerous condition. A Miami slip and fall attorney will help with important tasks, though an overview is informative.

How Notice Works in Premises Liability Claims

These cases are grounded in the concept of negligence, which requires you to prove that the at-fault party failed to exercise reasonable care. Premises liability specifically refers to the duty of a property, business, or homeowner, all of which must keep their space in safe condition and free from foreseeable hazards. A property owner could not be expected to protect against a danger that is not foreseeable.

When evaluating foreseeability for purposes of fault, notice enters the picture. There are two types of notice that could impact a Florida slip and fall case:

  • Actual Notice: Property owners may have actual notice of a hazard if they see it or become aware that it exists.
  • Constructive Notice: A property owner might have indirect knowledge of a hazard, perhaps because it has existed for a length of time or occurs so frequently that it becomes foreseeable through routine.

Proving Constructive Notice

Actual notice is difficult to prove, since you need evidence that the property owner clearly observed or was informed about the hazard. Therefore, most slip and fall claims rely on constructive notice to establish the elements of premises liability. In general, this concept places a duty on property owners when they should know about the dangers. Examples of constructive notice include:

  • A leaky pipe or condensation that creates a puddle when the AC is operating;
  • Missing railings on balconies and staircases;
  • Shelves that are unbalanced or not attached to the wall;
  • Loose carpeting, flooring, and tiles;
  • Moisture around freezers and refrigeration units;
  • Broken stairs and escalators; and,
  • Equipment, boxes, carts, and merchandise blocking aisles.

Trust Your Claim to Our Miami Slip and Fall Lawyers 

If you were injured because of dangerous conditions on property, please contact Gerson & Schwartz, PA by calling (305) 371-6000 or visiting us online. We can set up a complimentary case review at our offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach, FL. After listening to your story, we can discuss strategy and compensation for your claim.

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