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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 69739 Find in a Library
Title: Road Traffic Victim (From Medicolegal Investigation of Death, 377-405, 1980, by Werner U Spitz and Russell S Fisher - See NCJ-69730)
Author(s): W U Spitz
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 28
Sponsoring Agency: Charles C. Thomas
Springfield, IL 62704
Sale Source: Charles C. Thomas
2600 South First Street
Springfield, IL 62704
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Injuries sustained by road traffic accident victims which are identifiable upon autopsy examination, as presented in a forensic pathology text, are discussed; pedestrian, driver, and passenger injuries are included.
Abstract: Assessment of a traffic casualty must include not only the victim but also the vehicle and the circumstances of the accident. Only by incorporation of all available data can a better understanding of the mechanism of the crash and causation of juries be established for later use as evidence. The postmortem examination of the pedestrian victim begins with thorough investigation of the clothing of the deceased. Examination of the vehicle when possible adds valuable information. In the typical case of an adult victim, the individual is struck by the front of the automobile, sustaining 'bumper injuries to the legs. Tibia fractures are common. The height of such injuries should be measured. The secondary impact by the radiator guard may result in extensive fractures of the pelvis. The victim sustains a final impact upon hitting the roadway surface. Cranial fractures and cerebral injuries from the impact are frequently the cause of death in such cases. In the case of a vehicle moving faster than 25 to 30 mi/h, the victim may be pinned on the radiator grill before falling in front of the vehicle and being run over. Extensive abrasions, lacerations, and tire marks are indicative of such circumstances. While injuries sustained by pedestrians usually conform to a certain pattern, those found in drivers and passengers seem consistently less uniform. Patterned injuries may be noted from the steering wheel or column. Trauma associated with the impact on the chest by the steering wheel is often severe, but external evidence of injury may be minimal or absent. Facial lacerations, whiplash injuries to the neck, and dashboard injuries are common. Use of seat belts is effective in preventing many injuries to both driver and passenger. Alcohol intoxication is known to be associated with at least half of all traffic deaths. In addition, automobile accidents occur occasionally as a result of sudden death of the driver, frequently from a heart attack. The use of the automobile as an instrument of suicide, although difficult to prove, has been postulated repeatedly in recent years. Photographs and 22 references are included. For related documents, see NCJ 69731-69738 and 69740-47.
Index Term(s): Accident investigation; Autopsy; Criminal investigation; Fatalities; Forensic medicine; Medicolegal considerations; Traffic accidents
Note: Published in part under the title 'Essential Postmortem Findings in the Traffic Accident Victim, in AMA ARCH Pathol, V 90, N 451 (1970)
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