California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI)

1103. Notice (Gov. Code, § 835.2)

[Name of plaintiff] must prove that [name of defendant] had notice of the dangerous condition before the incident occurred. To prove that there was notice, [name of plaintiff] must prove:

[That [name of defendant] knew of the condition and knew or should have known that it was dangerous. A public entity knows of a dangerous condition if an employee knows of the condition and reasonably should have informed the entity about it.]


[That the condition had existed for enough time before the incident and was so obvious that the [name of defendant] reasonably should have discovered the condition and known that it was dangerous.]

New September 2003

Directions for Use

This instruction is intended to be used where the plaintiff relies on Government Code section 835(b). This instruction should be modified if the plaintiff is relying on both section 835(a) and section 835(b) to clarify that proof of notice is not necessary under section 835(a).

For an instruction regarding reasonable inspection systems, see CACI No. 1104, Inspection System.

Sources and Authority

  • Government Code section 835.2(a) provides: “A public entity had actual notice of a dangerous condition within the meaning of subdivision (b) of section 835 if it had actual knowledge of the existence of the condition and knew or should have known of its dangerous character.”
  • Government Code section 835.2(b) provides, in part: “A public entity had constructive notice of a dangerous condition within the meaning of subdivision (b) of Section 835 only if the plaintiff establishes that the condition had existed for such a period of time and was of such an obvious nature that the public entity, in the exercise of due care, should have discovered the condition and its dangerous character.”
  • “[Defendant] asserts that ‘[t]he absence of any prior accidents or injuries on the gravel shoulder is evidence of lack of notice.’ Assuming this to be true, at most it establishes grounds for a finding in [defendant]’s favor, which is hardly enough to sustain a summary judgment. Nor is plaintiff required to prove that [defendant] knew for a fact that accidents of this kind would occur. The test for actual notice was satisfied if [defendant] had ‘actual knowledge of the existence of the condition and knew or should have known of its dangerous character.’ ” (Cole v. Town of Los Gatos (2012) 205 Cal.App.4th 749, 779–780 [140 Cal.Rptr.3d 722].)
  • “ ‘It is well settled that constructive notice can be shown by the long continued existence of the dangerous or defective condition, and it is a question of fact for the jury to determine whether the condition complained of has existed for a sufficient time to give the public agency constructive notice.’ ” (Erfurt v. State of California (1983) 141 Cal.App.3d 837, 844–845 [190 Cal.Rptr 569], internal citations omitted.)
  • “To establish ‘actual notice,’ it is not enough to show that the state employees had a general knowledge that people do leave hot coals on public beaches. There must be some evidence that the employees had knowledge of the particular dangerous condition in question.” (State of California v. Superior Court (1968) 263 Cal.App.2d 396, 399–400 [69 Cal.Rptr. 683], internal citations omitted.)
  • “Briefly stated, constructive notice may be imputed if it can be shown that an obvious danger existed for an adequate period of time before the accident to have permitted the state employees, in the exercise of due care, to discover and remedy the situation had they been operating under a reasonable plan of inspection. In the instant case, it can be validly argued that there was a triable issue on the question of inspection, but in determining whether there is constructive notice, the method of inspection has been held to be secondary. The primary and indispensable element of constructive notice is a showing that the obvious condition existed a sufficient period of time before the accident.” (State of California, supra, at p. 400, internal citation omitted.)

Secondary Sources

5 Witkin, Summary of California Law (10th ed. 2005) Torts, § 271

2 California Government Tort Liability Practice (Cont.Ed.Bar 4th ed.) §§ 12.45–12.51

5 Levy et al., California Torts, Ch. 61, Particular Liabilities and Immunities of Public Entities and Public Employees, § 61.01[4][b] (Matthew Bender)

40 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 464, Public Entities and Offıcers: California Torts Claim Act, § 464.81 (Matthew Bender)

19A California Points and Authorities, Ch. 196, Public Entities, § 196.11 (Matthew Bender)