The National Safety Council revealed that every second, someone in the US is injured from a preventable event, like a car crash, accidental poisoning, or fall. Reports of slips, trips, and falls have risen sharply over the last couple of decades and are now the leading cause of preventable injuries.

With so many slip, trip, and fall incidents happening each day, it makes sense that several Americans find themselves in need of legal help to recover damages. If you’ve been the victim of a fall, you may find yourself unsure of how to classify the accident. Is it a slip & fall or a trip & fall? What distinguishes them anyway? Here’s everything you need to know about the difference between a slip and a trip—and why it matters.

The Type of Fall Frames the Case

In law, the meaning of every word is carefully analyzed. Slips and trips are similar in nature, but as far as tort law is concerned, the minor things that set them apart make a big difference. 

What Constitutes a Slip and Fall Accident?

A slip and fall accident occurs when a slippery surface causes a person to lose their footing and fall to the ground. 

Slip and fall accidents can be caused by many different types of surfaces, but common offenders include: 

  • Wet floors
  • Smooth floors that have been waxed
  • Round objects left on the floor
  • Loose or worn carpets and rugs
  • Carpets with poor traction
  • Icy walkways
  • Muddy paths

When people walk, they usually have a good idea of the floor’s slip potential, and they adjust their level of caution accordingly. Most people know to tread lightly on icy surfaces or avoid walking through the spilled milk in aisle 12. When someone crosses a muddy patch of grass, they move a little slower and carefully place their feet in areas that look the least slick.

Most often, a slip and fall happens when someone believes that their feet have a better grip on the ground than they do: The slippery surface sneaks up on them, only revealing itself once the person loses traction and begins to slide.

Typically, when a person’s foot loses its grip and slips forward, the rest of their body is left behind, causing their weight to shift and make them fall backward. Backward falls affect specific areas of the body, meaning slip and fall accidents create unique traumas. Slip and fall injuries may include:

Of course, the fall speed and landing place can affect how badly a person is injured. Plenty of people slip without suffering severe damage, but in some cases, the injuries from a slip and fall accident can be very extreme and even life-threatening. Slip and fall accidents pose a great risk of internal damage to the body.

What Constitutes a Trip and Fall Accident?

In some ways, tripping is the opposite of slipping. Slip and fall accidents propel a person backward, but trip and falls fling a person forward. A trip and fall accident happens when someone is walking and stumbles on a grounded object in their path. One of their feet gets caught on the impeding object, and the rest of their body stays in motion, causing them to topple forward.

Almost anything can get in someone’s way and cause them to trip, but common offenders of accidental trip and falls include:

  • Raised surfaces like stairs and street curbs
  • Cracked or uneven sidewalks
  • Boxes, clutter, or any items left on the floor
  • Door frames
  • Furniture that juts out into a walkway
  • Low lighting that conceals objects in a person’s way

Trip and fall accidents vary in severity, but when injuries are sustained, they often include:

  • Foot injuries
  • Neck and face injuries
  • Broken bones, especially arms and fingers
  • Sprained thumbs
  • External wounds and bleeding

People often have more control over their landing in a trip and fall accident and therefore suffer more external injuries than long-term internal problems, but that doesn’t mean trip and falls should be taken lightly.

Are Slips, Trips, and Falls Worthy of a Lawsuit?

Florida law allows people four years from the date of an injury to file a lawsuit seeking compensation. In most slip and fall and trip and fall cases, the claimant tries to prove negligence on behalf of a third party. This means that the person who has been injured is not to blame for the accident, but rather someone else’s careless actions.

The goal of a negligence case is to hold the responsible party accountable for the pain and suffering, as well as the financial burden caused by an accident. Money can’t always undo the damage, but it can help to restore a person to their pre-accident condition as best as possible. When a person believes that negligence caused their fall, it’s definitely worth exploring legal options.

5 Steps to Take After a Fall Accident

Taking the proper actions after sustaining a slip and fall or trip and fall injury goes a long way toward both physical and financial recovery. Here’s what to do should you ever find yourself injured:

  1. Get medical attention right away and save any documentation from hospital or doctor visits.
  2. Report the fall to a manager, landlord, property owner, or fitting authority and ask for a written copy of the report.
  3. Document as many details about the fall as possible, including where, when, and how it happened. If you can, take pictures of where it occurred and collect contact information for anyone who witnessed the incident.
  4. Don’t give any statements without a lawyer’s help or talk about the fall on social media.
  5. Get in touch with a Clearwater personal injury lawyer who has extensive experience handling premises liability cases like yours.

Carefully following these steps will give you the best chance of fully recovering damages caused by the accident.