WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A SLIP AND FALL VS. TRIP AND FALL CASE?

When it comes to proving your slip and fall or trip and fall case and making a personal injury claim there actually is a HUGE difference between these two types of claims.  Satisfying plaintiff’s burden of proof in a “slip” case is much more difficult than a “trip” case.  

When discussing the difference between a “trip and fall” vs. a “slip and fall” injury claim, the main issue is whether the defendant had knowledge of the dangerous condition. 

Here is a hypothetical example: 

You are walking in the produce aisle of a grocery store and “slip and fall” on some substance that had fallen or leaked to the floor.  How do you prove how long that substance had been there?  What if the store keeps a “cleaning log” that shows that an employee checks and sweeps the floor every half hour?  As you can see, it may be difficult to meet the “knew or should have known” requirement under these circumstances.

Second hypothetical scenario: 

You are walking toward the entrance into a restaurant.  All of a sudden your foot catches on a displaced or misleveled walkway and you “trip and fall” resulting in an injury.  You look back at where your foot caught and see that there was a big gap in the expansion joint, and that the slabs of the sidewalk were uneven and offset from one another.  In this scenario, absent an earthquake or recent construction, the odds are that the defect has been there for quite some time.

It is more easy for the plaintiff to satisfy the burden of proof in the second scenario because the tripping hazard was more permanent in nature, as compared to the slipping hazard which is more transient.  

In a “slip and fall” case, it is often more difficult to establish how long a substance or object has been on the floor.  This can make it very difficult to establish that the defendant knew, or should have known, about the existence of the dangerous condition.  

In a “trip and fall” case, the plaintiff’s burden of proof is more easily satisfied.  Many times through depositions or discovery, the plaintiff’s lawyer can establish that the defendant’s employees (or even its management) had been in the area of the defect prior to the time the trip and fall injury accident occurred.  This evidence may be used to show that defendant had actual knowledge of the dangerous condition or upon reasonable inspection should have known of the danger.

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