The Importance of Constructive Notice in Washington, D.C. Slip and Fall Accident Cases

When someone is injured while on someone else’s property, they may be able to file what is called a Washington, D.C. premises liability lawsuit. Property owners generally have to maintain their premises safe for others—especially those that they explicitly invite onto their property. For example, grocery stores generally have to ensure that their store is safe to shop in, and hotel owners have to make sure their rooms are safe. If a property owner learns about a hazard on their property—a wet floor, for example, or a malfunctioning device that could cause harm—they have to take reasonable steps to fix it and/or warn others of the danger. However, property owners cannot be on the hook for everything on their property—if a hazardous condition arises that they have no constructive notice about—they don’t know about it nor do they have reason to know—they may be able to escape liability if it harms someone.

For example, take a recent slip and fall case. According to the court’s written opinion, the plaintiff spent his day drinking beer and fixing cars at his auto repair shop. That evening, he went to a craft brewery and continued to drink. At some point during the night, he entered the brewery’s restroom and slipped on a wet surface, falling and causing serious back injuries. He then sued the brewery for negligence, and the brewery filed for summary judgment.

The court found that the plaintiff could not recover in this case, because he could not prove how long the alleged wet substance was present on the floor before he slipped. Thus, there was no proof that the brewery had constructive notice of the wet floor—a hazardous condition—and thus they could not be held liable. It would be different if, for instance, there was proof that an employee had seen the wet floor and decided not to fix it, or not to put up a wet floor sign. In that hypothetical, it could be established that the defendant knew about the issue. As it stood, however, the plaintiff could not recover.

Cases like this illustrate how important it can be to present a good case in court and ensure that all relevant proof is discovered and presented to the judge or jury. This can be hard to do without an attorney. Those injured in Washington, D.C. accidents are encouraged to reach out to an experienced attorney familiar with these kinds of cases.

Have You Recently Been Injured in a Washington, D.C. 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 financial compensation. Filing a personal injury lawsuit can lead to compensation to cover past and future medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. It can also, however, be complicated and overwhelming. Let our personal injury law firm help. At Lebowitz & Mzhen, we have a team of dedicated and experienced attorneys familiar with all kinds of Washington, D.C. accident cases—from slip and falls to car accidents, dog bites, and more. With decades of experience, our attorneys will work tirelessly on your case and assist you throughout every step of the process. Call us today to learn more and schedule a free initial consultation: 800-654-1949.

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