Difference Between Slip & Fall and Trip & Fall Accidents

Slip and fall accidents are different from trip and fall accidents, which means that the injuries arising from these falls will often differ, too.

But premises liability law treats slips, trips, and falls the same. Owners and occupiers of property have the same duties to keep their guests reasonably safe from all slipping, tripping, and falling hazards.

Here are some of the differences between slip and fall and trip and fall accidents, as well as some of the similarities.

How Often Do Falling Accidents Occur?

Falls cause more emergency room visits than any other type of accident. For Americans over 65, falls are a leading cause of death. Falls include falls from a height and falls on a surface. Both slip and falls and trip and falls often occur due to surface conditions.

What are Slip and Fall Accidents?

Slip and fall accidents happen when your feet lose traction and slide forward, causing you to lose your balance and fall backward.

As you fall, you may throw your hands backward to try to catch yourself. You might also try to turn to fall on your side.

When you impact the ground, your back and hips usually hit the ground first. The back of your head may also hit the ground.

Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents

Slip and fall accidents often result from low-friction surfaces, including:

  • Ice
  • Liquid spills
  • Small objects, like gravel
  • Waxed floors

One of the most common causes of slip and fall accidents is spilled fruit or vegetables. Grapes, tomatoes, bananas, and other fruit on grocery store tile flooring can easily cause you to lose traction and fall.

What Injuries Arise from Slip and Fall Accidents?

Since you fall backward in a slip and fall accident, you’ll usually sustain injuries to the back of your body, including:

  • Bruised head, buttocks, and back
  • Fractured hip, vertebrae, and skull
  • Ruptured discs
  • Whiplash
  • Traumatic brain injury, including concussion
  • Dislocated shoulder

Injuries from slip and fall accidents can also happen if you strike something as you fall. For example, the back of your head could hit a table as you slip and fall in a restaurant.

What are Trip and Fall Accidents?

Trip and fall accidents happen when you lose your footing and fall forward. This often happens when your foot catches on something. It can also happen when you encounter an unexpected elevation change.

As you fall forward, you throw your hands out to catch yourself. Your arms and the front of your body impact the ground.

Causes of Trip and Fall Accidents

Trip and fall accidents result from a loss of footing caused by surface conditions, such as:

  • Loose carpet
  • Raised thresholds
  • Unmarked steps going up or down
  • Potholes
  • Cracked or uneven pavement
  • Objects on the ground

Tripping accidents can also result from poor lighting that prevents you from spotting a hazard on the floor.

Injuries from Trip and Fall Accidents

Falling forward after a trip can cause injuries to the front of your body and limbs. 

Some common tripping injuries include:

  • Fractured wrists and elbows
  • Sprained ankles and knees
  • Facial cuts, scrapes, and bruises
  • Dental fractures
  • Fractured ribs and skull
  • Dislocated shoulders
  • Traumatic brain injuries

Trip and fall accidents can produce injuries when you strike something during the fall. For example, if you trip on the loose carpet on a staircase, you could strike the handrail as you fall.

Trip and Fall vs. Slip and Fall Accidents: Similarities

Despite their differences, trip and fall and slip and fall accident cases are treated identically in the law.

Owners and occupiers of property must keep guests reasonably safe on their premises. This means they must take reasonable measures to:

  • Find hazardous conditions
  • Warn guests of hazardous conditions
  • Remedy hazardous conditions

If an owner or occupier is negligent in finding and curing hazards, you can recover compensation for your medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering.