Actual vs. constructive notice  

On Behalf of | Dec 28, 2022 | Firm News

Texas property owners, including landlords and store owners, must take reasonable steps to maintain their properties to ensure the safety of anyone lawfully on the premises.

Generally, a property owner is expected to conduct reasonable inspections of the property to reveal any hazard that could result in an accident. Once a property owner is made aware of a dangerous condition on the property, they must take reasonable action to address the issue. This may require them to post warning signs or make repairs.

When a slip-and-fall accident occurs, the injured party may assert a negligence claim against the property owner for failing to properly care for their property. The injured party will have to establish that the property owner had notice of the dangerous condition that caused their injury.

Establishing that the property owner had notice

A property owner may claim that they were unaware of the dangerous condition on the property and therefore cannot be held liable for the victim’s injuries. However, an owner can be held liable even if they did not actually know of the hazard. The victim can legally establish that the owner had notice if they can prove either actual or constructive notice:

  • Actual notice: The property owner was aware of the dangerous condition by seeing it firsthand or was made aware of the condition by another party.
  • Constructive notice: The property owner should have known of the dangerous condition. For example, if spilled juice has been on the floor of a store for several hours, enough time has passed for you to say the owner should have been aware of the spill and cleaned it up or posted signs to warn others about it.

Notice is a key element of most premises liability cases. A personal injury attorney can help you establish all the necessary elements to prove your claim and recover damages from a property owner after your accident.