Slips and falls, or “slip-and-fall” accidents, are incredibly common. In fact, they account for over 1 million hospital visits each year. But why do slips and falls happen, and what should you do if you’re hurt? Below, we summarize the most common causes of slips, trips, and falls, and how to make an injury claim.

Slip and Fall Accidents

A slip and fall accident is when a person stumbles, slips, or falls on someone else’s property. This could be, for example, a business, workplace, or public sidewalk. It’s a type of personal injury case, meaning you may be able to claim compensation for your injuries.

Types of Slips and Falls

There are countless ways a person might trip up or fall. As such, there are many types of slip and fall claims. The most common types of slips and falls are:

  • Slipping on a surface e.g. wet floor, ice
  • Falling from a height
  • Falling down stairs  
  • Tripping over hazards e.g. loose wires, cracked tiles or sidewalk
  • Stumbling into ditches or holes

This is, of course, not an exhaustive list. Don’t hesitate to call our slip and fall attorneys if you think you have an accident claim.

Slip and Fall Injuries

The type of injuries a person sustains depends on factors such as:

  • Whether they fell from a height
  • If they landed on a hard or soft surface 
  • Which part(s) of their body took the most impact

Some slip and fall injuries are, thankfully, very minor. However, there’s no limit to the injuries you might sustain if you trip or fall somewhere. The most common types of injuries are:

  • Cuts
  • Bruises
  • Soft tissue injuries e.g. muscle sprains 
  • Fractures and dislocations
  • Nerve and spine damage
  • Neck injuries
  • Head trauma 
  • Facial injuries

The most serious accidents can cause severe injuries including organ damage and paralysis. Death may occur in the worst cases.

The Most Common Causes of Trip and Fall Accidents

It’s possible to fall or trip anywhere, and there are limitless possible causes. However, there are some causes which are more common than others.

Wet Surfaces and Spillages

Yellow slip and fall warning sign with person walking in background carrying a backpack

Whether it’s an icy sidewalk or a spillage, wet surfaces are a leading cause of trips and falls. Incidents which may fall into this category include:

  • Failure to clear a sidewalk of snow and ice 
  • Failure to mop up a spillage (or at least put up a warning sign)
  • Lack of warning signs after waxing or mopping a floor
  • Letting moisture collect on the ground
  • Using the wrong type of flooring for the environment 
  • Failure to correct plumbing problems

Slipping on wet floors can mean falling onto hard surfaces. This may cause anything from minor bruises all the way through to a concussion or back injury. Many slips and falls could be avoided if property owners took more steps to handle spillages correctly.

Uneven and Loose Surfaces

Uneven or poorly maintained surfaces pose a serious tripping hazard. The types of accidents which may fall into this subgroup include:

  • Failing to replace peeling or cracked flooring
  • Failing to fix damaged flooring 
  • Lack of routine flooring inspection and maintenance
  • Poor flooring installation
  • Failing to secure mats to the floor

Failing to repair cracked sidewalks and paved areas also falls into this category.

Poor Lighting

Poor lighting plays a significant role in trips and falls across different premises. It’s easy to appreciate why this might be the case.

When there’s insufficient lighting, it’s harder to spot obstacles. Someone may stumble into a pothole or trip over something they could otherwise avoid. Poor lighting can also make it even more challenging for those with vision problems to make their way around.

Examples of when poor lighting could cause an injury include:

  • Lack of lighting in apartment block stairwells 
  • No illumination of sidewalks or parking lots
  • Lack of lighting around the workplace 
  • Insufficient lighting in corridors

For example, someone might trip and fall over boxes in a corridor. Although they tripped over a hazard, they couldn’t see it due to poor lighting. Safe illumination may have prevented the accident.

Exposed Wiring and Tripping Hazards

Tripping over hazards on the floor is a very common cause of slip and fall injuries. There are many types of incidents which may fall into this category, including:

  • Torn or loose flooring
  • Exposed wires
  • Crates or other objects lying around
  • Objects jutting out 
  • Badly constructed or poorly maintained staircases

No matter whether you’re walking slow or fast, you could be seriously injured after tripping over a hazard. Property owners have a duty to keep walkways safe and free from clutter. If you’re injured after falling over a hazard, our attorneys may be able to help.

Unsafe Working Conditions

Employers have a duty to keep their workplaces safe. However, unsafe working conditions are a common cause of slips and falls, especially on construction sites.

Male worker lying on step clutching low back and grimacing after slipping and falling on steps accident at work

Slips and falls may occur in these environments due to:

  • Failure to train workers to use equipment safely
  • Failure to ensure workers know how to navigate a site safely 
  • Lack of routine maintenance on equipment 
  • Not repairing faulty or damaged equipment
  • Failure to provide suitable footwear or clothing

It’s not uncommon for workers to operate at significant heights. Falls from a height can cause serious injuries such as spinal cord injuries and even death. An injury attorney can help you determine how to pursue a workers’ comp or premises liability claim.

Nursing Home Neglect

Unfortunately, nursing home neglect or abuse is a serious issue in California. It can result in slips, trips, or falls in many cases.

Nursing home residents may be physically weak. If they don’t get the support they need, they can easily lose their balance and fall. In nursing homes, common causes of falls include:

  • Failure to monitor residents
  • Improper moving and handling
  • Neglect e.g. abandoning a resident and leaving them to fend for themselves
  • Faulty or improperly maintained mobility devices

As we age, our bones may weaken and we’re less resilient to injury. Slips and falls involving seniors can be especially serious. Injuries may include severe hip fractures and head trauma. Contact our elder abuse attorneys in CA if you’re concerned about a neglect incident.

Making a Claim for Slip and Fall Injuries

If you’re injured after a slip accident, you might file a personal injury claim. If successful, you’ll receive compensation for your injuries and the harm sustained. While you should retain a slip-and-fall attorney for personalized advice, here’s an overview of what’s involved.

Proving Your Case

There are a few steps involved in suing for slip and fall injuries. To make a successful claim, you must show that:

  • Someone owed you a duty of care. For example, property owners – such as restaurant owners – have a duty to keep their property reasonably safe for visitors. 
  • This owner or occupier breached this duty. This means, for example, they knew about a possible hazard and failed to remedy it
  • You were injured due to this breach of duty. For example, the owner knew about cracked floor tiles, didn’t fix them, and you tripped and hurt yourself.
  • You suffered losses due to the accident. For example, you have medical bills to pay now.

Your attorney will negotiate a fair settlement with the defendant. If the defendant (or their insurer) won’t settle, the case may go to trial. However, courtroom hearings for slips and falls are unusual.

Time Limits for Personal Injury Claims

You normally only have two years from the accident date to file a personal injury lawsuit. This may seem like a long time, but if you don’t act fast, you might forget to claim. Or, key evidence may be lost or destroyed. You could forget the details of what happened and it might be harder to find witnesses.

It’s best to file a lawsuit soon as possible. Call our slip and fall attorneys to start your claim.


A successful lawsuit means securing damages for your slip and fall accident. These damages cover your losses and include:

  • Medical bills e.g. emergency care, imaging, prescriptions
  • Rehab costs e.g. therapy, ongoing care 
  • Time off work e.g. lost wages, lost earning capacity (if you’re seriously injured) 
  • Pain and suffering e.g. mental distress, anxiety

Although less common, slips and falls can cause death. Loved ones left behind may make a wrongful death claim on the victim’s behalf. The compensation may cover additional losses such as funeral expenses and loss of companionship.

We Can Help You Get the Slip and Fall Damages You Deserve

Slip and fall cases can be difficult to prove. However, that’s where the premises liability lawyers at the May Firm can help. Our experienced attorneys can offer a free consultation to discuss your case. We will determine if you have a claim, how much it’s worth, and how to get the justice you deserve.

Do you need help after a slip accident? Speak to an experienced slip and fall lawyer today.


The content in this article is provided for general informational purposes only and may not represent the current law in the recipient’s jurisdiction. The content and information should not be construed as professional legal advice from The May Firm or the individual author, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. Any and all information included in, or accessible through, this article should not be used to act or refrain from acting without the appropriate legal or other professional advice from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s appropriate jurisdiction. Any reliance you place on such information is strictly at your own risk.