In order for a plaintiff to succeed in a Washington, D.C. slip-and-fall case, she must be able to show that the property owner either created the hazard that caused her fall or knew about the hazard but failed to take any corrective action. If a plaintiff is unable to present the court with some evidence of the property owner’s knowledge, the case will most often get dismissed in a pre-trial motion for summary judgment.
Earlier this month, a federal appellate court issued a written opinion in a premises liability case illustrating the difficulties that plaintiffs may encounter when attempting to prove a property owner’s knowledge of the hazard that caused a fall.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff was a customer at the defendant restaurant. At the time, the plaintiff was recovering from a recent surgery on her heel, and she was walking with the assistance of crutches. During her meal, the plaintiff got up to use the restroom. In order to access the restroom, customers had to walk past the restaurant’s kitchen. As the plaintiff walked past the kitchen, she slipped on the wet floor.
The plaintiff filed a premises liability lawsuit against the restaurant. In order to establish the knowledge requirement, she had to prove that the restaurant either caused the floor to become wet or knew about it but failed to take some corrective action. The plaintiff attempted to prove the defendant’s knowledge through circumstantial evidence of constructive knowledge.
Through constructive knowledge, the law allows for a plaintiff to establish a defendant’s knowledge of a hazard without proof that the defendant actually knew about the hazard. In order to succeed in establishing constructive knowledge, however, the plaintiff must present some evidence that shows the defendant “should have known” that the hazard existed, given the surrounding circumstances.
Here, the court held that the plaintiff did not establish constructive knowledge. The court explained that a premises liability plaintiff must present some evidence as to how long the hazard existed. In this case, the plaintiff was unable to present any evidence about the origin of the spill or how long the floor had been wet. Because of this, the plaintiff could not establish that the restaurant had constructive knowledge of the hazard, and the court dismissed the case.
Have You Been Injured in a Washington, D.C. Slip-and-Fall Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Washington, D.C. slip-and-fall accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The dedicated Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. personal injury attorneys at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers have extensive experience representing slip-and-fall accident victims against negligent property owners. To learn more about premises liability law in your jurisdiction, call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case with a personal injury attorney today. Calling is free, and we will not bill you for our time unless we are able to help you obtain the compensation you deserve.
More Blog Posts:
The Importance of a Thorough Investigation in Washington, D.C. Car Accident Cases, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, July 11, 2017
Court Discusses Expert Witness Testimony in Recent Car Accident Case, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, August 2, 2017