Jason Stephens | November 24, 2020 | Premises Liability
The terms “slip & fall” and “trip & fall” may sound the same, but there is a difference. Both types of accidents fall under premises liability claims. However, how the accident occurs and the injuries caused by each accident can be very different.
How Do Slip & Fall and Trip & Fall Accidents Happen?
The main difference between a slip and fall accident and a trip and fall accident is the direction of the fall. When you “slip” and fall, you generally ball backward. Your feet slide out from under you, which propels your body backward.
The most common cause of slip and fall accidents is slick floors. Your foot slips on the slick surface and causes you to fall backward.
Spills and leaks can cause slippery surfaces. Waxing is also a common cause of slick floors. When it is raining, customers entering a store could cause slick floors if the rain drips onto the floor from coats, shoes, and umbrellas.
When you “trip” and fall, you lose your balance because your foot trips on an object. The result is your body being propelled forward.
There are many causes of trip and fall accidents. Examples include:
- Damaged flooring
- Uneven surfaces
- Broken steps
- Clutter in walkways
- Holes in the pavement or ground
- Uneven door jams
- Elevators that do not stop even with the floor
- Cords and wires on the floor
Any object that is left on the floor could cause a tripping hazard.
Injuries Caused by Slip, Trip, and Fall Accidents
Insurance companies often downplay the severity of injuries caused by slip and fall accidents. However, a slip, trip, and fall accident can result in catastrophic injuries and disabling impairments.
Some injuries are common in both slip and fall accidents and trip and fall accidents. For example, broken bones and head injuries are common in all types of falls. However, the location of those injuries can be different depending on the type of fall.
Common Injuries Caused by Slip and Fall Accidents
When your foot slides out from underneath you, your center of gravity changes. The result is that you fall backward. People falling backward can strike the ground with great force, which can cause a variety of injuries such as:
- Skull fractures and traumatic brain injury from striking the back of the head on the ground
- Sprained and broken ankles because of the force placed on the joint as the foot slips out from underneath you
- Shoulder injuries, including fractures, rotator cuff injuries, and dislocations
- Spinal cord injuries and back injuries, including fractured vertebrae, nerve damage, and herniated discs
- Broken hips
- Sprained and broken wrists and arms caused when you try to break your fall
- Whiplash, cervical fractures, and other neck injuries
You could also sustain other injuries in a slip and fall accident. It is always best to see a doctor as soon as possible after a fall. Feeling “okay” after a fall does not mean that you were not injured because of the fall.
Common Injuries Caused by Trip and Fall Accidents
When you trip over an object, you are more likely to fall forward. You can sustain some of the same injuries as you would in a slip and fall, but these injuries are common when you fall forward:
- Lacerations, cuts, and abrasions on your knees, hands, and elbows from striking the floor or pavement
- Broken bones in your arms and legs
- Sprained and broken wrists and hands as you try to break your fall by extending your arms outward
- Knee and elbow injuries
- Foot and ankle injuries from tripping over an object
- Neck injuries, including soft tissue injuries and whiplash
- Facial injuries, including eye injuries and broken facial bones
As with a slip and fall, you could feel “fine” after a trip and fall accident. Again, feeling “fine” does not mean you did not sustain injuries. Prompt medical attention is always a wise idea after a fall.
Who is Responsible for Your Injuries and Damages?
Slips, trips, and falls are generally covered under premises liability laws. Property owners have a duty of care to maintain the premises in a safe manner for visitors and guests. Government entities, private landowners, commercial property owners, landlords, tenants, businesses, and other entities in control of property could be held liable for damages caused by a fall.
Damages in a slip, trip, and fall accident claim may include:
- Medical bills and expenses
- Cost of physical, occupational, and other therapies
- Long-term personal care or in-home health care
- Loss of wages, salaries, bonuses, commissions, benefits, and other sources of income
- Decreases in earning potential
- Permanent impairments, scarring, and disabilities
- Emotional distress and mental anguish
- Physical pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
You must prove that the property owner knew or should have known a dangerous condition existed on the property. The owner failed to correct the condition or provide adequate warning of the hazardous condition. The dangerous condition resulted in your fall, and you suffered damages because of the fall.
Proving fault and liability for a slip, trip, and fall accident can be challenging. A personal injury lawyer understands the legal requirements to recover compensation for injuries. The attorney also knows the best way to investigate the accident to gather evidence proving the property owner is liable for your damages.
What Should I Do After a Slip and Fall Accident?
If you fall on another party’s property, steps to take to protect your legal rights include:
Notify the Property Owner of Your Injury
Report the fall and injury to the property owner or a manager. Ask for a copy of the written accident report. If the person does not create a report, ask the person to write down their name, title, and contact number.
If you can do so without causing yourself harm, take photographs of the accident scene. Making a video is also a good idea. Ask bystanders for their names and contact information.
Note the exact time and date of your accident. Try to preserve your shoes and clothing because they could become evidence in your personal injury case.
Seek Immediate Medical Attention
See your doctor as soon as possible after the fall, especially if you do not go to the hospital after the accident. Prompt medical attention is crucial for a personal injury claim. You must have medical records to prove that you were injured because of the fall to recover compensation for damages.
Avoid Talking to the Insurance Provider or Property Owner
Until you can talk with a lawyer, do not agree to provide a written or recorded statement regarding the accident. Do not sign any forms or documents until you speak with your attorney.
Do not answer questions about your injury or the accident. Always assume your conversation is recorded, even if the other party does not tell you that they are recording the conversation.
Contact a Texas Premises Liability Lawyer
The sooner you contact an attorney to discuss your case, the sooner the attorney can begin protecting your best interests. The property owner and its insurance company may try to convince you to accept a quick settlement offer. Until you complete medical treatment and talk with a lawyer, it is not in your best interest to accept an offer.
However, do not wait too long to contact an attorney about a slip, trip, and fall accident. The Texas statute of limitations restricts your time to file a personal injury lawsuit for a fall. If your injury occurred on government property, your time to file a claim could be just a few months after your fall.