Difference Between Slip & Fall and Trip & Fall Accidents
Most people are familiar with the term “slip and fall” accident. However, they are not as familiar with the term “trip and fall” accident. Both types of accidents involve falls and can result in severe injuries.
The distinction between the two types of premises liability claims can be important in a personal injury case.
What is a Slip and Fall Accident?
A slip and fall accident occurs when you fall because you are walking on a slippery or slick surface. For example, you walk into a store during a rainstorm and slip on the floor because of water that fell from another person’s raincoat or umbrella.
Another example would be slipping on water that leaked from a rusty bathroom pipe. Slipping on flooring that has just been cleaned or waxed is another example of a slip and fall accident.
A person falls on a slick surface because there is less friction between the person’s feet and the surface. The person believes that they have more “grip” under their feet. Instead, their feet “slip” or slide out from under them, causing them to fall.
What is a Trip and Fall Accident?
A trip and fall accident is similar to a slip and fall accident, but it involves tripping over an object instead of losing friction between your feet and the floor.
When you trip over an object on the floor, you lose your balance and cannot bring your other leg forward in time to prevent falling. Trip and fall accidents occur because someone leaves an object on the floor, such as a box, extension cord, or piece of equipment.
However, a trip and fall can also occur because of torn carpeting, uneven flooring, cracks in the pavement, and door jams. A person could trip while exiting an elevator if the elevator does not stop even with the floor. Another common cause of trip and fall accidents is broken steps.
Injuries Caused by Slip & Fall Accidents and Trip & Fall Accidents?
Because the mechanics of slip and fall accidents and trip and fall accidents are different, the injuries caused by the accidents are different. While some of the injuries in a fall accident are the same, there is a higher chance of sustaining specific injuries when you slip and fall versus when you trip and fall. Broken bones are common in both types of falls.
Common Slip and Fall Injuries
When you slip and fall, you generally fall backward. Your foot slides out from under you, causing your center of gravity to shift backward.
Because you are falling backward, you have a higher risk of sustaining injuries such as:
- Back injuries, including fractured vertebrae, herniated discs, and spinal cord injuries
- Head injuries, including fractured skulls, traumatic brain injury, and concussions
- Neck injuries, including whiplash and brain stem injuries
- Shoulder injuries, including dislocation, fractures, and rotator cuff injuries
- Sprained and broken ankles from the pressure on the ankle joint when you slip
- Sprained and broken wrists as you try to break your fall
The above list is not inclusive. You could also sustain nerve damage, soft tissue injuries, and other injuries from a slip and fall.
Common Trip and Fall Injuries
In a trip and fall accident, you are more likely to fall forward than to fall backward. When you trip, your body continues to move forward. However, your upper body is propelled forward toward the ground with greater force because your leg is not in the position to keep your torso upright.
Falling forward can produce a specific set of injuries including:
- Foot and ankle injuries from tripping over an object on the floor
- Knee injuries and elbow injuries
- Broken bones in your arms, wrists, and hands as you try to break your fall
- Neck injuries, including whiplash, from the violent jerking motion, as you break your fall but your head continues to move forward
- Abrasions and cuts from striking the ground or pavement, especially on the palms of the hands, knees, and elbows
As with a fall backward, you can also sustain various sprains, strains, and other injuries.
Recovering Compensation for a Slip and Fall or Trip and Fall Accident
Premises liability laws cover most falls that occur on another party’s property. Premises liability laws require property owners to maintain their premises in a safe condition for visitors and guests. It also requires property owners to warn guests and visitors of hazards and dangerous conditions.
If a property owner knew or should have known about a hazard and did nothing to warn you or correct the hazard, you could be entitled to compensation if the hazard caused your trip and fall or slip and fall.
You could receive compensation for damages including:
- Medical expenses and bills
- Loss of wages, benefits, and other income
- Physical pain and suffering
- Disabilities and permanent impairments
- Mental anguish
- Emotional distress
- Psychological injuries
- Decreases in earning potential
- Loss of quality of life or enjoyment of life
A personal injury lawyer can review your case to determine if your fall meets all the legal requirements for a premises liability claim. If you are injured on another person’s property, there are steps you can take to improve your chances of recovering maximum compensation for your slip and fall or trip and fall accident.
What Should You Do After a Trip & Fall or Slip & Fall Accident?
Seven steps to take after being injured in a fall are:
1. Report the Accident
Report the accident to the property owner or someone in charge of the property. Ask for a copy of the accident report when it is completed.
2. Gather Witness Information
Ask eyewitnesses for their names and contact information. Because there might not be a video of your fall, eyewitness testimony can help prove a hazard or dangerous condition that caused your fall.
3. Document the Accident Scene
If possible, take photographs of the area, especially of the hazard that caused your fall. In most cases, the property owner immediately repairs the item or removes the tripping hazard. Therefore, your photographs could be the only evidence of how the accident scene appeared when you fell.
4. Seek Immediate Medical Treatment
Go to the emergency room for severe injuries or if you are unsure how severely you were injured. If you do not go to the hospital, see a doctor as soon as possible.
You must have documentation of your injuries to recover compensation for a slip and fall accident. Delays in medical care are used by defense lawyers and insurance providers to dispute liability for your injuries.
5. Preserve Your Clothes and Shoes
The shoes and clothing you were wearing at the time of the fall could become evidence in your injury claim. Preserve these items for your lawyer.
6. Do Not Provide Statements or Answer Questions
The property owner or the insurance company will likely want to question you about the accident. They may request a formal statement.
Avoid discussing the fall and do not provide statements or answer questions until you speak with a lawyer. Any statements you make could impact your case. The insurance company could use what you say to claim that you are partially to blame for the cause of your injuries, which lowers the value of your injury claim.
7. Contact a Premises Liability Lawyer
As soon as possible, contact a premises liability lawyer or personal injury attorney to discuss your case. A lawyer can help you navigate the claims process and work to get you the maximum compensation for your injuries, damages, and financial losses.
The Texas statutes of limitations set deadlines for filing personal injury claims. Do not delay in talking with a lawyer. You could lose your right to compensation if you miss the deadline for filing a lawsuit.