Trip and Fall vs. Slip and Fall: What’s The Difference?

So you’ve fallen on the ground and injured yourself. In the aftermath of the accident, the last thing you’d probably think about is whether it was a trip and fall or a slip and fall. I mean, you fell and got hurt, does it really matter how? 

Well, if you’re looking to claim compensation for your injury, it will. Knowing whether it was a trip and fall or a slip and fall can have serious legal implications. It can affect how much you should receive or if you’re eligible for compensation at all.

Slip and Fall vs. Trip and Fall

Trip and fall and slip and fall are two terms often used interchangeably. Here’s how they differ:

Trip and Fall

A trip and fall accident happens when the foot strikes or collides with an object resulting in a loss of balance. It’s usually caused by an uneven surface or an object sticking out of the ground. But it can also be caused by the following factors:

  • poor lighting
  • Items and clutter left on the floor
  • uncovered cables
  • obstructed views
  • wrinkled carpets
  • loose or broken floor tiles
  • buckled wood floors

For example, imagine walking in your workplace and your foot unexpectedly colliding with an uncovered cable. Unless you’ve got some sick ninja moves, you’ll most likely end up falling face down on the floor. 

Most of us will also attempt to brace the fall by extending our arms. This is why most trip and fall injuries usually include:

  • head trauma
  • facial wounds
  • dislocated wrists and elbows
  • fractures
  • dislocated knees
  • hyperextended elbow

Slip and Fall

As the term suggests, a slip and fall accident happens when there is a lack of traction or too little friction between your foot or footwear and the ground. This causes your feet to slide over the surface you’re walking on, thus propelling you to the ground. 

Most slip and fall injuries result from a slippery surface but they can also be caused by:  

  • shiny or glossy surfaces
  • snow
  • rain
  • liquid spills on smooth surfaces
  • loose or unanchored mats
  • banana peels
  • recently waxed hardwood floor
  • muddy ground
  • any surfaces with uneven traction

Since slipping tend to make you fall backward, a slip and fall accident is likely to cause:

  • traumatic brain injuries
  • neck injuries
  • hip fractures
  • back and spinal cord injuries
  • sprained ankles and wrists
  • cuts and abrasions
  • soft tissue injuries
  • broken elbow

Slips, Trips, and Falls in the Workplace

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), slips trips, and falls account for 18% of nonfatal and 17% of fatal work injuries in 2020. This makes it one of the most common workplace accidents in the US. 

It’s especially more common in the construction industry where it’s responsible for about 36.5% of all fatalities. The most common non-fatal slip trip and fall injury is fracture which occurs in 5% of all injured workers. 

The risk of developing a serious injury after a slip and fall or trip and fall accident also increases with age. This means that older workers are more likely to develop permanent disabilities as a result of such types of accidents. 

Because they’re so common and often occur so suddenly, many workplaces tend to ignore the hazards that often cause these accidents. For instance, a construction site usually has a lot of debris lying around which can cause some people to trip and fall on their faces. Even OSHA itself doesn’t have set rules and regulations that specifically deal with slips, trips, and falls.

Legal Implications

As mentioned, being able to tell the difference between a trip and fall and a slip and fall is important if you’re planning to pursue legal actions. 

In trip and fall accidents, you tend to fall facedown. While slip and fall accidents tend to send you falling backward. So if you’re claiming a hip injury because you tripped and fell, it doesn’t exactly add up. I mean, if you’re falling forward, you’ll likely hurt your face or arms more than your hips. That alone will throw doubt on your testimony of what exactly happened. 

Remember that when you’re in court, the primary goal is to get the judge to rule in your favor. If the circumstantial evidence doesn’t make sense, how can you convince them that you’re telling the truth? You might end up losing your claim. 

Of course, if you’re hurting or unconscious after the fall, the details might become hazy. This is why you need to remember as many details as you can. You can also gather testimonies from witnesses and medical records to prove your claim. The more information you have, the better your chances of winning your case.

Can You Claim Workers Comp Benefits?

According to the National Floor Safety Institute, slips trips, and falls are the leading causes of workers’ compensation claims. So if you’re wondering whether you can claim workers comp benefits after a trip and fall or a slip and fall accident, then yes, you can – as long as it’s work-related. 

As per the National Safety Council, the average workers’ comp settlement for fall and slip accidents is $47,681 – one of the highest among all types of work-related accidents. People who suffered a fracture, crush, and dislocation received an average of $59,749. 

These figures, however, will still depend on the severity of your injury and how many days off from work you’ll need. If you suffered a severe injury, like a broken spinal cord or serious neck injuries, you’ll most likely need more intensive medical care and treatment as opposed to minor bruises and cuts. You’ll also need more time off from work. All these can increase your workers comp benefit amount.

But as with any other type of work-related injury, claiming workers comp won’t be that easy. 

It’s not exactly a secret that employers and insurance companies don’t like paying compensation. The process will be even harder if you can’t even tell whether you tripped or slipped. 

This is where hiring an experienced workers comp lawyer like Victor Malca would help a lot. Aside from advising you on what your rights are as an injured worker, he can help you gather evidence for your case too. Plus, a workers comp lawyer will also represent you in court should you and your employer fail to agree on a settlement.

A person who has tripped and fallen near a wet floor sign.

Workers Comp Benefits for Slips, Trips, and Fall

Since workers compensation is implemented on a state level, the rules and regulations tend to vary across the country. But in general, workers comp benefits for slips, trips, and fall will consist of the following:

  • Medical Benefits

In most states, workers comp medical benefits will cover all necessary medical expenses. This includes emergency medical treatment, medical bills, medical supplies, medications, surgery and orthopedic devices (if necessary). Though most workers comp laws require that your treating doctor must be accredited by your insurance provider. Otherwise, your claim can get denied.

In general, workers comp will pay for all your medical bills and expenses until you reach maximum medical improvement (MMI). In case of permanent disabilities, your compensation may also include payment for maintenance medications as needed.

  • Lost Wages Compensation

Aside from paying for your medical expenses, your workers comp benefits will also include lost wages compensation if your injury caused you to miss work. The amount will be based on your average weekly wage from before you got injured.

In Florida, you can receive up to 66 ⅔% of your average weekly wage depending on the severity of your injury. However, you’ll only be paid for the first seven days of your absence from work if your injury extends to over 21 days. 

For temporary slip, trip, and fall injuries, lost wages benefits will last until you reach MMI but shall not exceed 104 weeks. Though if you return to work before that, your workers comp payments will most likely stop.

What to Do After a Slip, Trip, and Fall Accident

If you’ve been involved in a slip, trip, and fall accident, especially in the workplace, here’s what you should do:

1. Get Medical Help

This is pretty basic in almost all emergency situations. If you are conscious, the first thing you need to do immediately after the accident is to get medical help, especially if you suffered a severe injury. 

If you’re alone and you have your phone with you, don’t hesitate to call 911. If you’re with a group of people, get them to call an ambulance or take you to the emergency room. 

At this point, the most important thing is to get medical help. You may be conscious but there’s no telling how the impact affected your body until after you get to the hospital. Getting medical treatment will also make it easier for you to secure a doctor’s report which will be useful when you pursue legal action or file a workers comp claim.

2. Gather Evidence

One way our body deals with trauma is to suppress our memory of the actual accident. This is why most people who’ve been involved in an accident usually find it hard to remember details of the accident. 

Unfortunately, those details will most likely be necessary if you decide to take your case to court. So while waiting for help to arrive, take photos or videos of the accident scene. If you can’t, ask someone to do it for you. Take photos of the slippery surface, that uncovered cable, or whatever it is that caused your injury. In addition to the doctor’s report, you can use this as evidence that the accident is indeed work-related.

3. Report the Accident

After getting a first aid treatment, the next thing you should do is formally report the accident to your employer. 

In most states, workers’ compensation laws impose a time limit for reporting injuries. In Florida, for instance, you need to report your injury within 30 days after it happened. Otherwise, you won’t be able to claim workers’ compensation benefits.

4. Look for Witnesses

Having testimonies from eyewitnesses will add more credibility to your case. So if one of your coworkers or anyone saw what happened, get their contact information like name, address, phone number, or email. You might need their testimonies later on. Or they might have taken a photo or video of the accident. Those might come in handy too.

5. Talk to Your Lawyer

Getting compensation for slip, trip, and fall accidents can be complicated especially if there’s doubt that the accident is work-related. This is why, ideally, you should talk to your lawyer before negotiating a settlement with your employer or insurance company. 

Most of the time, employers and insurance companies have their own legal team who works on disproving cases like yours. But having an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer like Victor Malca by your side can even out the playing field. His extensive experience in defending workers’ comp cases will help you get a more favorable settlement. He has already helped a lot of injured workers in Florida. He can help you get the benefits you deserve too. Contact us for a free consultation.

(Related: How Does A Workers Comp Investigation Work?)

VICTOR MALCA – Florida Workers Compensation & Social Security Disability Attorney

Victor Malca P.A. has over 27 years of litigation experience in Workers Compensation and Social Security Disability lawsuits. His experience and continued success when fighting for his clients puts him among the most trusted workers’ compensation attorney’s in Florida. He specializes in representing injured workers on compensation benefit cases and disabled individuals claiming lost social security disability benefits.

Book a free consultation today. Our unwavering advocacy for employee rights and privileges are recognized by our past clients across South Florida.

About The Author

Judy Ponio is a writer and editor for the Victor Malca Law P.A. website and blog. She enjoys helping people in need with questions about social security disability and workers compensation law. She has a passion for helping those in need and the elderly with accurate legal information that can make a positive difference in their lives.