Peter Catania | July 12, 2021 | Slip and Falls
Slip and fall accidents describe a broad category of accidents that happen on someone else’s premises. But they can also describe a specific type of accident in which you slip, fall, and injure yourself. When used in this way, “slip and fall” describes a different type of accident than “trip and fall.”
Both types of accidents are covered under the same principles of premises liability and could support an injury claim.
Here are some of the differences between slip-and-fall and trip-and-fall accidents and how you can prove liability for them.
Slip and Fall Accidents
Slip and fall accidents happen when you lose traction between your feet and the ground. During your slip and fall accident, you could injure yourself by falling onto something, trying to catch yourself as you fall, or impacting the ground.
How Do Slip and Fall Accidents Happen?
In most cases, losing traction will cause your feet to slip forward. You then lose your balance and fall backward.
As you fall, you might try to catch yourself by throwing your arms back. You might also try to grab onto something or someone.
Some hazards that commonly cause slip and fall accidents include:
- Debris, like gravel
- Moist foods
- Floor wax
The most common slip and fall hazard in grocery stores is fruit. Grapes, bananas, tomatoes, and other kinds of wet fruit can burst when you step on them and create a slick spot on the floor.
What Are Some Common Injuries from Slip and Fall Accidents?
Slip and fall accidents can cause a range of injuries. The most common injuries occur to the buttocks, back, neck, and head.
Some injuries you might suffer after a slip and fall include:
- Fractured hip
- Broken vertebra
- Ruptured or compressed disc
- Muscle strain in the back, hip, or neck
- Skull fracture
- Traumatic brain injury
You may also instinctively throw your arms backward to catch yourself as you fall. As a result, you could suffer sprains to the wrist, elbow, or shoulder. You could also fracture your wrist, hand, or arm.
Trip and Fall Accidents
Trip and fall accidents typically occur when your foot or leg catches on something while walking or running. You lose your balance and fall to the ground. You may injure yourself as you fall onto something or impact the ground. You may also injure yourself if you try to stop your fall.
How Do Trip and Fall Accidents Occur?
When your foot or leg becomes caught, you lose your balance as your momentum carries you forward. Since your leg is caught, you cannot step forward to catch yourself and regain your balance before you fall.
You may try to catch yourself by throwing your arms out or trying to grab something as you fall. You may also try to stop your fall by stepping forward with the other leg. As a result of the fall, the front of your body may impact the ground.
Some common causes of trip and fall accidents include:
- Wrinkled carpet
- Uneven flooring
- Raised threshold
- Objects on the floor
- Stairs or unmarked steps up
Many businesses with tripping hazards choose to mark the hazard with colored tape or a sign. But you might miss these markings unless you look straight at the floor.
What Are Some Common Injuries from Trip and Fall Accidents?
Trip and fall accidents can cause a range of injuries. In some cases, you can raise your arms to protect your face. You may also turn and roll rather than hitting the ground directly.
But most victims of trip and fall accidents cannot stop their falls, which means that they impact the ground with the front of their bodies.
Some common injuries from trip and fall accidents include:
- Sprained knees
- Sprained wrists, elbows, or shoulders
- Fractured hands, wrists, or arms
- Facial fractures
- Skull fractures
- Neck strain
- Bruising on the chest or abdomen
The most serious injuries happen when someone trips and falls from a height. For example, tripping down a flight of stairs or off of a rooftop can seriously injure the back, neck, and head. Severe falls can result in spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries.
Holding a Property Owner Liable for Fall Injuries
Regardless of how the fall happens, you can seek compensation from a property owner or occupier under certain conditions. Premises liability cases rely on negligence law to impose liability on the person or business responsible for the property.
Under the common law, negligence requires proof of four elements:
Duty of Care
An owner or occupier of premises has a duty of care to protect guests and invitees from hazards on the property. This duty does not extend to trespassers.
Breach of Duty
The owner or occupier breaches the duty when they fail to exercise reasonable care in identifying and remedying hazardous conditions. Remedying hazardous conditions could include fixing them or warning guests about them.
The victim must suffer damage. In the case of an injury claim, your damages include your medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering.
The breach of duty must cause the damage. Causation includes two parts. Cause-in-fact means the owner’s failure was an event in the sequence of events that led to the injury. Proximate cause means the injury was a foreseeable result of the owner’s failure.
Slip and Falls in Florida
Florida does not address the elements necessary for holding a property owner or occupier liable for a trip and fall accident. But Florida does have a slip and fall statute.
This statute addresses the standard of proof for a slip and fall on a transitory foreign substance. Under the statute, you must prove that the business knew or should have known that the substance was on the floor. You must also prove that the business should have taken steps to remedy it.
Under the statute, you can prove that the business should have known of the substance if it was on the floor for long enough that the employees or owners should have found it. You can also prove the business should have known about the substance if spills occurred regularly.
Legal Representation for Slip & Falls and Trip & Falls
Florida’s slip and fall statute makes slip and fall claims slightly different from trip and fall claims. You can rely on ordinary negligence to prove liability for a trip and fall. However, you need to satisfy both the statute and ordinary negligence law to prove liability for a slip and fall accident.
As a result, you should probably consult a lawyer when you have suffered an injury on someone else’s premises to determine whether your accident falls under Florida’s slip and fall statute.