Your South Carolina Trip and Fall Attorney
Differences: Trip and Fall vs. Slip and Fall
While many people use the words “slip and fall” and “trip and fall” interchangeably, there are key legal distinctions between the two types of accidents that can impact on your claim.
1. Slip: occurs when there is not enough friction between an individual’s shoe and the floor surface.
2. Trip: occurs when there is a loss of friction. This can happen when something prevents the foot from completing the walking motion. Causes include an irregular surface, cracked sidewalks, the edge of a rug, and various other hazards.
Trip and Fall Injuries
Most of the differences between slip and fall and trip and fall cases surround the types of injuries you can suffer as a result of the accident.
As indicated above, some of the common causes of trip and fall accidents include fixed objects or uneven surfaces, or objects that are in someone’s path and cause them to stumble. The possible injuries resulting from your trip and fall include:
· Injury to front of head or face
· Hand and arm fractures
· Elbow injuries
· Knee injuries
Trip and Fall Accidents and Premises Liability
Trip and fall cases, like slip and falls, are under the umbrella of premises liability. Premises liability is a legal concept that typically comes into play in personal injury cases where the injury was caused by some type of unsafe or defective condition on someone’s property.
Like most personal injury cases, premises liability cases are based on the legal theory of negligence. In order to win a premises liability case, the injured person must prove that the property owner was negligent with respect to ownership or maintenance of the property.
Watch Your Step!
Accidents do happen, but when they’re caused by someone else’s negligence rather than by a simple moment of clumsiness, they become legally significant. The National Safety Council finds that falls are one of the primary causes of unintentional injuries in the U.S. As an invited customer on commercial property, you have the valid expectation to remain reasonably safe on the premises. When a business fails to uphold its end of this safety equation and you become injured, that business is liable for your injury.
What’s in a Word?
In the case of trip and fall and slip and fall claims, words do make a difference. While every premise liability case is unique to its specific set of circumstances, these two claims have distinctions. When you slip, your feet lose traction with the ground; when you trip, your feet lose contact with the ground. Because every premise liability case is fact sensitive and hinges on its own details, it’s important to accurately portray the kind of accident you’ve suffered. If you’ve been injured by someone else’s negligence, you can’t build an effective case if you can’t accurately identify the cause of your accident.
There is an important physical distinction between slip-and-fall and trip and fall cases. Slips are often (but not always) caused by temporarily slippery walkways, which usually become slippery when something wet and slippery spills, leaks, or splashes on them. Typically, the slippery substance will quickly dry, evaporate, or be routinely cleaned. This can diminish your ability to obtain necessary evidence and can lessen the business’s liability (because it might be difficult to prove that the business should have known about the temporarily slippery surface in the first place). Trips are often (but now always) caused by physical obstructions that are usually more enduring (like cracks in the sidewalk and uneven entrances). Such obstructions help to take some of the guess work out of evidence gathering and liability determination.
Did you slip or did you trip are important questions that can be integral to your claim. This distinction should not be overlooked. An experienced premise liability attorney can help you build your case appropriately and effectively.
Proving Your Claim
In certain situations, corporate property owners are legally responsible for any harm you sustain as an invitee (customer, client, or guest) on their property. In South Carolina, property owners owe you distinct responsibilities, and when they don’t meet these responsibilities, they can be found liable for your damages.
To bring a successful legal claim (either slip and fall or trip and fall), you must be able to prove that your injury was caused by the business’s breach of duty. As an invitee, you’re owed the duty of not being subjected to unreasonable risks. There are two important elements necessary for a successful premise liability case.
These include that the business – whether it be the owner, the manager, or an employee – was directly responsible for whatever obstruction caused you to trip. Corporations are usually held accountable for their employee’s actions and for the actions of secondary companies that work for them. Third-party actions, however, are not considered part of the business’s purview. So, if another customer creates a tripping hazard that the company can’t reasonably be expected to know about, the company probably won’t be found liable.
Additionally, it must be shown that the business either knew or should have known about the obstruction that caused you to trip but failed to take care of the obstruction. Just as in a slip and fall accident, however, the caveat remains that you, as a typical shopper, are expected to heed your surroundings and to notice and avoid glaringly obvious dangers like blatant obstacles in your path.
Course of Action
All of us trip over our own two feet occasionally, but if you’ve been injured in a trip and fall accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence, there is a straight-forward course of action that you should follow:
- Seek Medical Attention
First and foremost, your health and wellbeing should be your top priority; seek appropriate medical attention as soon as possible. As time passes, it will become more difficult to prove the correlation between your trip-and-fall accident and your claim. Additionally, it’s important that you thoroughly document every medical complaint from the beginning – even minor injuries can morph into more serious problems over time. Any medical records regarding visits, procedures, treatments, medications, diagnoses, and prognoses that the accident evinces should all be compiled as medical evidence for your case.
- Memorialize the Scene of the Trip and Fall Accident
If you can, capture the accident site with pictures and/or a short video. If you can’t, ask for assistance or arrange to have it done as quickly as possible. Go over the accident in your head and commit your description to writing. Be sure to document any obstructions or impediments to normal walking that might have caused you to trip. By capturing the scene of the accident with pictures and accurate descriptions, you are documenting the business’s negligence, which could be integral to the success of your claim.
- Speak with any Witnesses and Obtain Their Contact Information
If there are any witnesses, their corroborating testimony can be crucial to your case. Speak to any potential witnesses, jot down what they saw, and get their contact information. If you can’t do this at the scene, ask for assistance or arrange to have it done as soon as possible. Evidence deteriorates over time; begin compiling all that you can at the scene of the accident.
- Obtain an Experienced Premise Liability Attorney with Expertise in Trip and Fall Cases
Speak with a skilled premise liability lawyer as soon as you can. Provide your attorney with the documentation that you’ve gathered – including photos, videos, eye-witness accounts and contact information, and any accident reports. Get started working with your legal counsel as soon as you can, which will allow them to expertly build your trip and fall case.
Accidents happen and people do trip and fall, but if your fall was caused by corporate negligence, take the situation seriously and implement these steps to uphold your legal rights.
Your Trip and Fall Case
Trip and fall cases are complex and can be confounding, but don’t let that deter you. If you’ve incurred an injury due to someone else’s neglect, contact a skilled premise liability attorney. Your rights and your safety matter; an experienced Charleston, South Carolina legal firm with expertise in the intricacies of trip and fall cases will fight for your case’s most satisfactory conclusion. Call the Hartman Law Firm, L.L.C. today; we care about your trip and fall case, and we’re here to help
If you were injured in a slip and fall, you may be entitled to recover damages for any injuries that resulted. Determining your legal rights can be complicated, and it may be unclear who to bring a claim against, and to what sort of damages you are entitled. For these reasons and more, contact an experienced slip and fall accident attorney.
We have the knowledge, legal skills and compassion to represent you and seek compensation on your behalf. We work with clients throughout Charleston and South Carolina. Give us a call today or contact us online to schedule a free consultation about your case.