In Florida slip-and-fall lawsuits, the plaintiff must present some evidence that the defendant landowner knew of the hazard and failed to take action. Courts, however, do not necessarily require plaintiffs to present evidence of a defendant’s actual knowledge. In some cases, a plaintiff may be able to meet their burden by establishing that the defendant had constructive knowledge of the hazard.
Under Florida Statute section 768.0755, constructive knowledge can be established by circumstantial evidence in one of two ways:
- The condition was present for such a length of time that the business should have known of its existence; or
- The condition occurred frequently.
The type of evidence required to prove constructive knowledge varies depending on the surrounding circumstances. And as a recent case illustrates, establishing a defendant’s constructive knowledge may not be as simple as it initially seems.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff was walking along a sidewalk that was maintained by the defendant city when she tripped and fell on a raised portion of the sidewalk where two concrete slabs met. Evidently, there was approximately a two-inch height differential between the slabs. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the city.
The plaintiff did not have any direct evidence that the city had actual knowledge of the hazard that caused her fall. However, she did present the court with a photograph of the concrete slabs, arguing that the slabs were so far apart that the gap must have existed for a significant length of time and that “even a cursory sidewalk inspection program” would have revealed the hazard.
The court rejected the plaintiff’s argument and dismissed her case. The court initially acknowledged that a photograph can help establish the age of a hazard, such as a crack in the sidewalk. However, the court went on to state that “without context or explanation, any conclusion as to the age of the alleged defect in the roadway would be mere speculation.” The court explained that the photograph did not indicate how long it took the crack to develop or worsen, and it only represents the crack at a single moment in time. Thus, the court determined that the plaintiff failed to establish the city had knowledge of the hazard that caused her fall, and it dismissed her case.
Have You Been Injured in a Florida Slip-and-Fall Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Florida slip-and-fall accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The dedicated South Florida personal injury lawyers at the law firm of Friedman, Rodman & Frank have been advocating for Florida accident victims for decades, and they know what it takes to succeed on their clients’ behalf. To learn more, call 877-448-8585 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case with an attorney today. Calling is free, and we will not bill you for our services unless we are able to assist you in recovering compensation for your injuries.
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