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Difference Between Slip & Fall and Trip & Fall Accidents



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Owners and tenants of premises must keep them reasonably safe from hazards. When guests injure themselves on the property due to the fault of the owner or tenant, they can pursue injury compensation.

Premises liability law remains the same whether you trip or slip before you fall. But how you fall may make a difference in proving negligence by the owner or tenant who occupied the property.

Here are some differences between slip & fall and trip & fall accidents and how those differences may affect your personal injury claim.

An Overview of Falling Accidents

The odds of dying in a fall are roughly the same as the odds of dying in a car accident. In 2020, like most years, accidental falls were the leading cause of unintentional injuries in the U.S. That year, falls caused over 6.4 million emergency room visits.

Falls were the leading cause of accidental injuries for all age groups. They were so common that the number of emergency room visits for falls was over three times the number for the second-leading cause.

Falls come in two types:

Elevated Falls

When someone falls from above the ground level, it’s called an elevated fall.

Some examples of elevated falls include falls from:

Elevated falls also include incidents where you fall through a hole.

These falls are more likely to cause injuries because gravity accelerates your body.

Same-Level Falls

Same-level falls happen when you fall onto the same surface where you were walking or standing. Slip & fall and trip & fall accidents are examples of same-level falls. These are more common than elevated falls but usually cause less severe injuries.

What Are Slip & Fall Accidents?

Slip & fall accidents happen when you lose traction and your feet slip out from underneath you. Your center of gravity shifts backward. You might step back to try to catch yourself. But without traction under your feet, stepping backward might just send you off balance.

In a slip & fall accident, you may land on your back or twist as you fall and land on your side.

What Causes Slip & Fall Accidents?

Slip & fall accidents result from slick surfaces.

Some common causes of slip & fall accidents include:

  • Liquid spills
  • Ice and snow
  • Waxed floors
  • Small debris, like sand

The most common cause of slip & fall accidents in grocery stores and restaurants is food dropped on the floor. Fresh fruit, sauces, and drinks can cause a slick spot that leads to a slip & fall accident.

Typical Injuries from Slip & Fall Accidents

When you slip & fall, you will typically injure the back or sides of your body. Since you fall backward after slipping, you will probably not be able to protect your head from striking the ground.

Some common slip & fall injuries include:

  • Strains or sprains in the back, neck, hip, and shoulder
  • Bruised buttocks, head, or shoulders
  • Fractured hip, vertebra, or skull
  • Concussion
  • Herniated or bulging disc

The most dangerous of these injuries is a fractured vertebra. This can send bone fragments into your spinal canal. There, the bone can sever or compress the spinal cord, causing a spinal cord injury.

What Are Trip & Fall Accidents?

Trip & fall accidents happen when you catch your foot. Your forward momentum causes your center of gravity to shift forward. Since your foot is caught, you cannot step forward to catch yourself. You fall forward or twist to fall sideways.

You may throw your arms out to catch yourself. You may also reach for a handrail, counter, or other fixture to stop your fall.

The front or side of your body impacts the ground. If you throw your arms forward, your hands or arms may hit the ground before your body.

What Causes Trip & Fall Accidents?

Trip & fall accidents result from obstructions.

Some common causes of trip & fall accidents include:

  • Obstacles
  • Loose carpet or rugs
  • Raised thresholds
  • Unmarked steps
  • Cracked or raised pavement
  • Potholes

Other conditions not related to the floor can increase the risk of tripping accidents. For example, poor lighting and loose handrails can cause a person to stumble and fall.

Typical Injuries from Trip & Fall Accidents

In a trip & fall accident, most injuries happen to the front and side of the body.

Some common trip & fall injuries include:

  • Fractured wrist, arm, elbow, or rib
  • Strains or sprains in the wrist, knee, hip, elbow, or shoulder
  • Facial fractures or bruises
  • Concussion
  • Whiplash

In a trip & fall accident, you can try to protect your face and head with your hands. But even if you avoid a face or head injury, you can still suffer whiplash as your head whips forward and backward during the collision with the ground.

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How Can You Get Compensation for Your Falling Accident?

Although your injuries might differ, the same law applies to slip & fall and trip & fall accidents. To recover compensation, you must show that the person or business responsible for the premises was negligent and caused or failed to prevent your injuries.

Negligence requires proof of four elements:

  • Duty
  • Breach
  • Causation
  • Damages

Property owners, tenants, and managers have a legal duty to keep the premises reasonably free of tripping and slipping hazards. When they identify a hazard, they must take steps within a reasonable time to warn guests of the hazard and fix it.

Owners and occupiers can breach this duty in many ways, including:

  • Failing to inspect their premises for hazards
  • Ignoring reports of a hazard
  • Taking too long to warn guests or repair the hazard
  • Repairing the hazard incompetently

On the other hand, you might get injured on someone else’s property without any negligence occurring. If you slip in a puddle created by another customer mere seconds before your accident, the owner/occupier might not have had enough time to find and mop the puddle.

If you prove that the owner/occupier acted negligently, you may recover your economic and non-economic damages. This compensation will cover your medical bills, lost income, and the reduction in your quality of life.

Falls can cause painful musculoskeletal injuries. They can also cause severe brain or spinal cord injuries. These injuries can result in large medical bills and weeks or even months of lost income. To recover compensation for these losses, you should consider talking to a lawyer.