Falling accidents happen every day. Sometimes these mishaps occur because the person who slipped or tripped was not paying attention. However, other accidents are caused by dangerous conditions that the victim could not have reasonably expected. 

According to research from the World Health Organization, falling accidents are the second most common cause of all injuries. Whether they happen in retail stores, nursing homes, workplaces, or on the street, falling injuries are unfortunately common. If you have been injured from a fall because of unsafe conditions or as the result of negligence, you have the right to seek financial compensation.

While it might seem like the difference is trivial, slips and trips are distinct types of accidents. They tend to cause different types of injuries, as well. If you or someone you love is seeking financial recovery for a falling accident, the slip-versus-trip distinction is an important one. 

Below, we will explore the difference between these two categories of falling accidents.

Defining a Slip and Fall Accident

While it may seem obvious, a slip and fall accident occurs when someone falls as the result of losing traction on a surface that is overly slick or smooth. 

Some examples of surfaces that do not provide adequate traction may include:

  • Hardwood floors or other hard floor surfaces that have been recently waxed
  • Hard surfaces that are wet from a spill, leak, or liquid overflow
  • Hard or cold surfaces on which condensation has gathered
  • Carpeted floors that feature a low coefficient of friction

Some surfaces are predictably slippery. If you step onto an ice-skating rink, you shouldn’t expect to have much traction under your feet. However, slip and fall accidents occur when a surface is unpredictably slick. 

On an unpredictably slippery surface, the victim’s foot may slide uncontrollably and cause them to lose their balance. Most slip and fall accidents result in the victim falling backward, with their feet sliding forward.

Examples of common injuries that result from slip and fall accidents include:

  • Ankle Sprain – Losing your balance can cause your foot to become misaligned with the rest of your leg. This can put an extreme amount of strain on your ankle joint and sprain the connected muscles.
  • Wrist Sprain – When you fall unexpectedly, you may involuntarily extend your hand to catch yourself. This can result in your wrist taking a severe blow and the associated muscles being sprained.
  • Brain Injuries – Because most slip and fall accidents result in the victim falling backward, they sometimes result in the person’s head colliding with the floor. Head and brain injuries are highly dangerous. If you have experienced head trauma, you should visit a medical care provider immediately.
  • Spinal Injury and Nerve Damage – The spinal cord and the nerves that surround it are incredibly vulnerable to damage. Falling backward can compress your spine and harm the adjacent nerves.

When a slip and fall accident occurs because of the negligence of an individual or business, you should retain legal counsel to help you seek financial recovery.

Defining a Trip and Fall Accident

A trip and fall accident occurs when a victim falls because of an object that is obstructing their path. After losing their balance because of an unexpected obstruction, the victim is often unable to avoid falling. Some of the typical causes of trip and fall accidents include:

  • Unanticipated elevation differences in the ground or flooring–such as different street and sidewalk levels, unusual step height, multiple interior floor levels, etc.
  • Uneven stones or pavement on sidewalks, walkways, and streets
  • Door jambs or elevated thresholds between rooms
  • Objects carelessly left in walkways–such as ropes, brooms, buckets, construction materials, boxes, electrical cords, etc.

Typically, trip and fall accidents happen because the victim does not see the obstructing object or height disparity. When a person’s foot catches unexpectedly, they often fall forward. Because of this tendency, trip and fall accidents usually result in different injuries than do slip and fall accidents.

Common injuries resulting from trip and fall accidents include:

Trip and fall accidents often result in:

  • Fractures to Limbs – When you trip and fall forward, your body may respond by involuntarily extending your arms to break your fall. Unfortunately, this can result in limb fractures. These types of bone breaks occur at higher rates for elderly people who suffer a fall.
  • Injuries to the Neck – If you involuntarily catch yourself when you trip, your head will continue moving in the direction that your body is falling. This can cause a significant impact on your neck, which can result in sprains, strains, and other soft tissue damage.
  • Lacerations, Cuts, and Abrasions – Unlike slip and fall injuries, when you trip you are much more likely to suffer damage to your skin because you will likely fall forward. This makes landing on your palms, knees, or elbows likely. Additionally, you may cut or bruise yourself on other obstructions or sharp surfaces that are beyond the point at which you tripped.
  • Broken Fingers – The most common outcome of a trip and fall accident is that the victim will land on their hands. Therefore, it is common for victims to suffer broken finger bones. This type of injury can be particularly difficult because it may prohibit the person from performing their normal job functions. 
  • Thumb Sprains – When you attempt to break your fall with your hands, your thumb may be forced back farther than it goes naturally. This can damage the tendons and ligaments that hold the thumb in place. Thumb sprains also have the potential to cause victims to miss work and suffer lost wages.

While some injuries are more severe than others, it is important to seek appropriate medical care as soon as possible if you have been injured in a trip and fall accident. 

Contacting a Slip & Fall or Trip & Fall Attorney

If you or a loved one have suffered an injury from a falling accident, you may be entitled to financial compensation through a premises liability claim. In the aftermath of an injury, you shouldn’t face the additional anxiety of overwhelming medical bills, lost wages, or other damages. When you slip or trip because of the negligence of another party, consider contacting a Baltimore personal injury attorney to secure appropriate compensation.