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What's the legal definition of a slip, trip and fall?

Personal injury cases that involve a slip, trip or fall are referred to as premises liability claims. They are also the second most prevalent type of personal injury case after car accident claims. A slip, trip or fall might result in back injuries, head injuries, broken bones, lacerations, cuts, bruises and strained muscles. But what is the legal definition of a slip, a trip and a fall exactly?

In legal terminology, a slip happens when there isn't enough friction or traction between the plaintiff's shoe and the surface that he or she is walking on. This lack of friction leads to the person's feet slipping out from under him or her, and ultimately, an injury. In most cases, a slip involves a person falling backward.

A trip happens when a plaintiff's foot catches on an object or suddenly drops to a lower place. This causes the plaintiff to lose balance and usually fall in a forward direction, or whichever direction the person was moving.

A fall happens at any time when a plaintiff loses his or her balance. One might fall from a ledge, a cliff, a second story, a roof or any other elevated surface. One might also fall while standing under certain conditions.

Since slips, trips and falls in California bring the potential for serious injuries, property owners must take reasonable action to prevent conditions that could cause a property guest to trip slip or fall. Failing to do so, if an injury occurs, a property owner could find him or herself liable for a personal injury claim.

Source: University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Environmental Health and Safety, "Accident Prevention: Slips, Trips and Falls," accessed Dec. 22, 2016

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