Constructive Notice Law and Legal Definition

Constructive notice is a legal fiction that attributes notice of something to a person or entity, even though actual notice did not exist. For example, a court may allow a person who is unable to be served personally with notice of a lawsuit to be served by publication in a newspaper, especially when a person has left the state to avoid service (legal delivery of a legal notice). The legal advertisement of the summons in an approved newspaper is treated as constructive notice, just as if the summons and petition had been served personally.

In another example, a city may be held to have constructive notice of dangerous icy conditions on a public sidewalk in a slip and fall case. The court may apply the theory of constructive notice to avoid unjust results in allowing a city to avoid liability for situations in which it has no actual notice. A contrary result may lead the city to fail to inspect the conditions of sidewalks and the constructive notice application reinforces the city's duty of care. Registries exist in county seats for filing records of deeds and liens, etc. By filing, the public is held to have constructive notice of such public records.