Difference Between Slip & Fall and Trip & Fall Accidents

Difference Between Slip & Fall and Trip & Fall Accidents

There are several ways you can get injured in a fall. Falling off a ladder, for example, is different from falling while stepping into or out of your shower. Lawyers typically separate these types of falls into two categories: “slip and fall” accidents and “trip and fall” accidents.

What Is a Slip and Fall Accident?

A slip and fall accident occurs when somebody falls due to a slippery surface. A surface can be slippery for several reasons. 

Some of the situations that result in slips and falls are:

  • Wet tile floors due to a spilled drink or food
  • Ice, rain, or snow on asphalt or a sidewalk
  • Stairs or floors with unexpectedly low friction (metal stairs, for example)
  • Wet tiling near a swimming pool or in a locker room
  • Showers without mats

Slip and fall accidents usually result in someone falling backward as their foot slides forward after losing grip.

What Is a Trip and Fall Accident?

These accidents occur when someone’s foot or leg is suddenly arrested, usually from unexpected contact with a hard object. When this happens, the person loses balance and usually falls forward when their other leg can’t restore their balance. 

Some situations that may result in this type of accident are:

  • Uneven floor tiles
  • A sudden rise in floor level without any warning
  • Heavy objects littering the floor unexpectedly
  • A sudden, unexpected increase in friction, like mud in an otherwise dry field

Just like slip and fall accidents, these injuries are 100% preventable.

Types of Injuries That Can Occur in a Slip & Fall or Trip & Fall Accident

Slip, trip, and fall accidents often result in similar types of injuries. However, specific injuries usually depend on whether a person slipped or tripped.


You can suffer a sprain from all slip, trip, and fall accidents. However, you are more likely to suffer ankle sprains when slipping. When your foot slides forward, it puts pressure on the muscles and tendons around the ankle. Similarly, when someone slips they often reach out to try to catch themselves, resulting in wrist sprains.


While sprains are more common with slip injuries, fractures are more common with trip injuries. When you fall forward, instead of soft tissue suffering the brunt of the fall, bones typically take the hit.

Joints that are usually sprained in a slip are broken in a trip. Additionally, most people put their arms out to stop their fall when tripping. The force of the impact from the ground can easily break an arm or wrist.

Head Injuries

You are much less likely to suffer a head injury if you fall forward than if you fall backward. Typically, you will only injure your head if you fall to the side — this is possible in a tripping accident, but it isn’t common.

However, when you fall backward, there is often little to prevent your head from striking the ground. This can result in a traumatic brain injury like a concussion. These injuries can be quite serious, and you should get immediate medical treatment if you suffer one.

Catastrophic Injuries

The worst type of injuries are life-altering. While any fall can potentially result in death, that isn’t the only catastrophic injury you can suffer.

When you fall forward from a trip, the most likely catastrophic injury is some type of shattered bone or impaled organ. These injuries are debilitating, usually requiring several surgeries to repair and years to recover from. There is a good chance you will require some type of treatment for the rest of your life.

When you fall backward while slipping, spinal damage is one of the biggest threats. Even minor spinal damage can result in partial paralysis. While some people may recover motor function after years of therapy, this will likely be a permanent injury.

Slip and Trip Accidents At Work

One place where you should be most wary about fall accidents is at work. According to slip, trip, and fall statistics provided by the CDC, slightly over 200,000 of the nonfatal work injuries that resulted in lost work time in 2020 were due to slips, trips, and falls. That represents 18% of all nonfatal work accidents that resulted in days away from work.

It is easy to not recognize the danger of these types of accidents while at work. You expect your employer to provide a safe work environment. Unfortunately, some employers slack on maintenance or janitorial services, resulting in a dangerous work environment.

What You Should Do After a Slip or Trip Accident

There are two important things you should do after a slip or trip accident: get medical assistance and contact a lawyer.

Slip and trip accidents often result in more serious injuries than the victim realizes. The difference in pain, for example, between a sprained ankle and a broken foot isn’t that significant. It isn’t uncommon for people to wrap a broken foot and then wonder why it still hurts months later.

By getting medical attention immediately, you ensure that any “hidden” injuries are discovered and treated.

Similarly, you should contact a lawyer immediately because these types of injuries often result in hidden costs. A sprained wrist might not seem so bad until you miss a month of work because of it and find yourself burning through your savings.

An experienced personal injury attorney will quickly determine whether another party is responsible for your injury and what your claim is worth. Trip and fall case settlements can easily be worth tens of thousands of dollars or more, depending on the circumstances and how swiftly your lawyer acts.

How You Fall Matters. Contact the Nashville Personal Injury Attorneys at Labrum Law Firm Personal Injury Lawyers Today

The difference between a trip and a slip is more than just the difference between two letters. The direction of your fall and how much force is applied at the site of the wound can be the difference between a minor injury and a lifelong one. 

For more information, please contact the Nashville personal injury law firm of Labrum Law Firm Personal Injury Lawyers to schedule a free consultation today.

We proudly serve Nashville, Brentwood, and its surrounding areas in Tennessee:

Labrum Law Firm Personal Injury Lawyers – Nashville
315 Deaderick St, Suite 1525
Nashville, TN 37238

(615) 685-8546

Labrum Law Firm Personal Injury Lawyers – Brentwood
320 Seven Springs Way, Suite 250
Brentwood, TN 37027

(615) 455-3384