A picture of a Texas court house with the words, "how to prove actual knowledge in a Texas slip and fall."

Slip-and-fall accidents occur when someone slips or falls on another person’s property. These accidents can be caused by slick conditions, such as a freshly mopped floor, or an unforeseen hazard, such as a wire that wasn’t properly buried in the ground.

Individuals injured in a slip-and-fall accident may have a legal claim against the property owner under Texas’s premises liability laws. However, it is notoriously difficult in the state of Texas to claim compensation for slip-and-fall accidents due to the sheer number of cases that Texas courts see each year. For an individual to navigate their case successfully, they must have an experienced premises liability attorney on their side. The attorneys at the Hernandez Law Group, P.C. know how to handle the stigma around slip-and-fall accidents, ensuring they are investigated thoroughly to present clear actual knowledge to the court. We fight hard so that our clients can claim compensation to cover the cost of medical expenses and damages that resulted from the accident.

Many individuals, however, need clarification on what actual knowledge is and how to prove it in a court of law. The premises liability attorneys created this guide to help our clients better understand actual knowledge and how they can prove it in their cases. Here is what you need to know.

Understanding the Concept of Actual Knowledge in Texas

The state of Texas has stringent laws regarding property owners and the safety of their property for visitors. If an accident occurs on their property, it must be shown that the property owner had knowledge (or should have had knowledge) about the hazard that resulted in the fall. 

For example, if a store owner noticed rainwater puddling around the entrance of their building, they should have taken proper steps to ensure that individuals entering the store knew of the danger, such as placing a wet floor sign. Depending on what the injured party was doing on the property at the time of the accident, whether they were a patron or an intruder, the duties and responsibilities of the property owner will change. These facts create the foundation for actual knowledge versus constructive knowledge.

What Is Actual Knowledge?

Actual knowledge is a legal term that describes a situation in which a property owner “has to have known” about an event or condition on their property. Actual knowledge can be proven by presenting either direct or circumstantial evidence. Examples of actual knowledge are as follows:

  • A property owner testified that they knew about the broken step on their front porch.
  • Maintenance records revealed that the restaurant was aware of the potholes in their parking lot.
  • A homeowner was aware that their dog was nervous around big crowds but allowed the dog to roam about their child’s birthday party anyway, resulting in a dog bite.
  • There was an announcement given to the grocery store manager of a refrigerator leak in the frozen section, but no one warned patrons of the slick conditions.

What Is Constructive Knowledge?

Constructive knowledge is a legal term for when a person is legally presumed to know about a dangerous condition on their property because they “should have” known it. In other words, if a property owner suspects that a particular condition exists (such as uneven flooring in a home or a loose step rail they choose to ignore) and an accident occurs, they have constructive knowledge. They might not have known there was an actual condition, but they should have known based on their suspicions and been proactive about it.

Gathering Evidence: Key Steps in Proving Actual Knowledge

Una enfermera trata la mano quemada de una víctima.

In premises liability cases, injured parties carry the burden of proof to show that the property owner was negligent in their duty and, therefore, owes them compensation for their accident. The main components of proving negligence are as follows:

  • The property owner owed the injured party a duty of care.
  • They breached that duty by not ensuring that their property was safe from hazards or that all hazards were made well-known.
  • The breach of duty is what led to the accident.
  • The accident resulted in damages and injuries for the victim.

The victim must be able to demonstrate the following to establish negligence in a slip-and-fall case:

  • The condition on the property existed and was unreasonably dangerous or substandard, such as a giant spill on the supermarket floor.
  • The landowner or other responsible party knew or should have known about the potential danger.
  • The property owner had enough time to either repair the condition or give a warning to patrons but failed to do so.
  • The dangerous condition resulted in the victim’s accident and subsequent injuries.

For all of this to be proven, the victim must show evidence supporting their claim that the property owner had actual knowledge about the dangerous condition. Evidence to show actual knowledge is as follows:

  • There are cases of similar accidents. If the property owner has had similar cases filed against them due to the same hazard, this can easily prove that the property owner was aware of the issue but never fixed it.
  • There is video evidence of the hazard from surveillance cameras. While surveillance cameras were originally designed to aid property owners in obtaining evidence of crimes, such as shoplifting, they can also be used for victims of premises liability cases. In some cases, a camera may be able to record issues, such as a leaking refrigerator in a grocery store, and show the condition being prevalent for months without proper actions being taken to fix it.
  • There are maintenance records about the issue. Maintenance records are important because they show that a property owner was fully aware of the issues and took steps to resolve the problem. However, if they could not fix the issue promptly, but the property owner did nothing to warn individuals of the issue, they are still responsible for any damages resulting from accidents concerning that condition.
Yellow wet floor sign on the floor in a hotel

Injuries from slip-and-fall accidents can drastically change the course of your life. The premises liability attorneys at the Hernandez Law Group, P.C. have years of experience aiding individuals in the DFW, Abilene, and Amarillo, Texas, areas.

Contact Your Trusted Slip-and-Fall Attorneys in Dallas, Amarillo, and Abilene–Get a Free Case Review

Contact our legal experts today for aid in navigating your slip-and-fall case. You can rest assured that our attorneys have the experience necessary to prove actual knowledge in your slip-and-fall case. We can help you gather the evidence, relay expert witness testimony, and show that the property owner was negligent in their duty of care. Reach out to us by phone or fill out our contact form to schedule your free case review. The Hernandez Law Group, P.C. team will fight for you!

Slip and Fall FAQs

What Is the Legal Definition of “Actual Knowledge” in a Slip-and-Fall Case?

Actual knowledge is a legal term that distinguishes itself from constructive knowledge. In “actual knowledge,” it must be shown that the property owners “must have known” as opposed to “should have known” about a potential hazard.

What Types of Evidence Can Help Establish Actual Knowledge in a Slip-and-Fall Case?

Types of evidence that can establish actual knowledge are as follows:

1. Similar incident reports
2. Maintenance reports
3. Surveillance camera footage
4. Witness statements

How Can the Hernandez Law Group Assist Me in My Slip-and-Fall Case?

The Hernandez Law Group has represented thousands of individuals across the state of Texas, aiding them in recovering damages from their accidents. We handle everything, from the investigation, gathering evidence, and speaking with the insurance companies and other party’s legal team, and are fully prepared to handle your case in court.

What Should I Do If I’ve Been Involved in a Slip-and-Fall Accident in Dallas, Amarillo, or Abilene?

If you have been injured in a slip-and-fall accident, you will want to take the following steps to document the circumstances surrounding your accident carefully. Here’s what you should do immediately after your accident:

1. Take pictures of the scene of the accident
2. Take photos of your injuries
3. Gather witness statements
4. Visit a medical professional
5. Save all medical documents concerning your injuries, along with any bills
6. Contact a personal injury attorney

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