Difference Between Slip & Fall and Trip & Fall Accidents

Property owners must take reasonable measures to keep their guests safe. When you suffer an injury because a person or business failed to meet this standard of care, you can seek compensation.

The same legal principles apply whether you slipped or tripped before you fell. You will also recover the same types of damages regardless of how you got injured. But slips and trips will produce different injuries and may require different evidence to prove how you fell.

Here are some of the key differences between slip and fall and trip and fall accidents.

Falling Accidents

Unintentional falls lead to over 10 million emergency room visits every year in the U.S. 

These accidents fall into two categories:

  • Elevated falls
  • Surface falls

Elevated falls happen when you fall off of something and impact the ground or another surface. Elevated falls can produce severe injuries because gravity accelerates your body as you fall.

A surface fall happens when you lose your balance and impact the surface where you stood. Surface falls can happen in many ways, but the two most common are slips and trips.

Slip & Fall Accidents

Slip and fall accidents happen when your feet lose traction. This could happen on a floor, parking lot, sidewalk, scaffold, or other surfaces.

As you lose traction, your foot slides forward, shifting your center of gravity backward. You lose your balance and fall on your back or side.

Causes of Slip & Fall Accidents

Slip and fall accidents result from low-friction surfaces caused by:

  • Ice or snow
  • Liquid spills
  • Floor polish
  • Debris, like sand or gravel

Property owners can cause slip and fall accidents by failing to find or fix the slipping hazard. For example, if a store manager fails to put up a sign or mop a puddle after finding it, the store might bear liability for any injuries.

Common Injuries from Slip & Fall Accidents

Because you tend to fall backward or sideways after a slip and fall accident, you usually cannot catch yourself as you hit the ground. You will suffer injuries around the back and sides of your body, depending on how you fell. 

Some common slip and fall injuries include:

  • Fractured vertebrae
  • Herniated discs
  • Whiplash
  • Strained back
  • Head or brain injury
  • Fractured or bruised hip
  • Fractured or bruised tailbone

Slip and fall accidents can also lead to spinal cord injuries. Nerve damage can result when a back injury compresses or severs the spinal cord or the nerve roots that branch out from it.

Trip & Fall Accidents

Trip and fall accidents happen when something obstructs your foot or leg. Your momentum causes your center of gravity to shift forward, and you lose your balance and fall forward. In most cases, you instinctively throw your hands out to catch yourself.

Causes of Trip & Fall Accidents

Trip and fall accidents result from obstructions, such as:

  • Torn or loose carpet
  • Uneven pavement
  • Potholes
  • Raised thresholds
  • Unmarked steps
  • Objects on the floor

Trip and fall accidents often result from conditions associated with the property. For example, a business might have broken pavement near its entry door that can catch your toe as you walk. For leased premises, liability for this hazard might fall on the owner of the building as well as the tenant.

Common Injuries from Trip & Fall Accidents

Trip and fall injuries usually happen to the front of your body. Some common injuries include:

  • Facial bruises and fractures
  • Dental injuries
  • Knee and ankle sprains
  • Head and brain injuries

You can also injure your arms as you try to catch yourself. You could sprain or dislocate your wrist, elbow, or shoulder. A fall could also fracture the bones in your hands and arms.

Similarities in Tripping and Slipping Accidents

The law treats tripping and slipping accidents the same. You need to prove negligence by the owner or occupier of the premises. You may also need to prove you did not contribute to your injuries by, for example, ignoring warning signs. 

If you can establish negligence, you can recover compensation for your injuries.