Are slip and fall injuries different from trip and fall injuries? They happen differently and cause different injuries, but the legal rights that you have after a slip and fall accident are essentially the same as after a trip and fall.

Here are some things you should know about slip and fall accidents and trip and fall accidents, including tips on how to recover compensation for each.

Understanding Premises Liability

If you injure yourself on someone else’s property, the person or business in control of that property might be liable.

To prove liability, your injury lawyer will need to show that the property’s owner or tenant was negligent in protecting your safety. 

Negligence requires the following elements.

Duty

Every person or business that manages property must exercise reasonable care in safeguarding the health and safety of its guests. This applies whether the property is a store, hotel, parking garage, industrial building, or personal home.

Breach

The person or business that controls the property must exercise reasonable care to discover hazardous conditions on the property.

If the property has a hazardous condition, the person or business responsible for that property must either:

  • Repair the hazardous condition
  • Warn guests of the existence of the hazardous condition

If the responsible party fails to do these things, they have breached their legal duty.

Damage

An injury qualifies as damage, even if the injury will heal over time. If a doctor diagnoses the injury as serious or permanent, the value of your damages will be greater.

Causation

To prove causation, a lawyer must show that the breach of duty was both the cause-in-fact and the proximate cause of the damage.

  • A cause-in-fact means that the breach of duty regarding the hazardous condition was a substantial factor in producing the injury.
  • A proximate cause means that an injury was a foreseeable result of the breach of duty.

If a jury does not find that the failure to repair or warn guests of the hazard was both the cause-in-fact and the proximate cause, you will not recover compensation for your injuries.

Slip and Falls

Slip and falls occur when you lose traction and your feet slide forward. You usually fall backward or to your side when this happens. You might throw your hands backward to try to catch yourself. You will probably strike the ground, rather than stopping your fall.

Hazardous Conditions That Cause Slip and Falls

Slick surfaces cause slip and fall accidents. Some ways in which a surface might become too slick for you to walk include:

  • Freshly waxed floors
  • Gravel or other debris
  • Puddles of water, ice, or snow
  • Liquid spills
  • Moist food, like grapes or bananas

Grocery store managers must exercise reasonable care to discover spills, warn customers of the spill, and clean up the spill. Failure to do any of these might expose the grocery store to liability for any resulting injuries.

Common Slip and Fall Injuries

If you fell backward or to your side, you would likely suffer from injuries to your back, neck, head, and hip. If you tried to catch yourself, you might also suffer injuries to your arms, shoulders, and hands.

Some common injuries from slip and fall accidents include:

  • Back injuries, including ruptured discs, broken vertebrae, and strained back muscles
  • Neck injuries, such as whiplash
  • Fractured bones in the arms, wrist, and hand
  • Skull fracture
  • Brain injuries if your head struck the ground
  • Spinal cord injuries that result from a spinal disc or vertebrae pressing on the spinal cord

Injuries from a slip and fall accident could have lifelong consequences. For example, a spinal cord injury could leave you with nerve pain, muscle weakness and numbness, and even paralysis.

Trip and Falls

Trip and falls occur when your foot catches on an obstacle and stops suddenly. Your forward momentum causes you to fall forward. Again, you may try to break your fall by throwing your arms forward to catch yourself. Even if you do successfully catch yourself, your head, face, and knees could still strike the ground.

Hazardous Conditions That Cause Trip and Fall Injuries

Obstacles on the ground can cause trip and fall accidents. Some examples of obstacles on the ground include:

  • Raised thresholds
  • Loose or unstretched carpet
  • Boxes or other objects
  • Unmarked steps
  • Uneven or cracked pavement
  • Poor lighting

Trip and fall hazards are sometimes more easily discovered than slip and fall hazards. A step up or down between rooms or a raised doorway threshold is usually a permanent feature. When tripping hazards like these are not marked or fixed, they can expose the person or business in control of the property to liability.

Common Trip and Fall Injuries

When you fall forward, you might strike your head or face on the ground, wall, or railing. You might also injure your arms, shoulders, and hands when you try to slow your fall.

Some common trip and fall injuries include:

  • Fractured facial bones and broken or knocked-out teeth
  • Fractured or sprained wrists, hands, or elbows
  • Fractured or sprained knees
  • Brain injury if your head struck the ground
  • Neck injury

Like slip and fall injuries, trip and fall injuries can last a lifetime. A traumatic brain injury (TBI) from a trip and fall can cause permanent loss of muscle control, sensation, speech, and behavioral control.

Differences Might Be Important

In many cases, witnesses and security footage will show what happened in a premises liability case. But, occasionally, someone will suffer from an injury on someone else’s property without any record of what occurred. This is a particular problem when the victim suffers from a brain injury or dies from their injuries.

In these cases, knowing whether the accident was a slip and fall or a trip and fall could help to identify the hazardous condition that caused the accident and who was responsible for it. Reconstructing the accident could help to explain the extent of the injuries.

For example, if a victim fractured her skull in an accident, knowing that a slip and fall motion caused her to fall down a flight of stairs could help a jury to understand how she received such serious injuries.

Whether your case involves a slip and fall or a trip and fall, you should consider seeking medical attention and speaking to a lawyer. Your injuries could require treatment and therapy that could be costly. You might miss work while recovering from your injuries. By understanding the extent of your injuries and your legal rights, you will be more likely to secure fair compensation for your injuries.