Retrospective analysis of fatal falls

Annette Thierauf*, Johanna Preuß, Eberhard Lignitz, Burkhard Madea

*Corresponding author for this work
45 Citations (Scopus)


Fatal falls are frequent and inhomogeneous events and affect every age. The criminalistic classification can often only be done on the basis of extensive investigations and the autopsy results. We retrospectively surveyed 291 cases of fatal falls on which a post-mortem examination had been carried out in the institutes of Forensic Medicine in Bonn and Greifswald. In large part, these cases are falls from height (n=123) and ground-level falls (n=122). These are compared to fatal falls down a stairs (n=46); the analysis is confined to injuries to the cranium. In ground-level falls the injury pattern in falls under the influence of alcohol differs from that of falls with no alcohol in the case history: all injuries are seen in higher relative frequency in casualties after the consumption of alcohol. In falls from height, the previous consumption of alcohol did not influence the injury pattern; the intracranial traumas are seen in decreasing frequency with increasing heights. The aim of this retrospective analysis is to present injury patterns and influencing factors like fall heights and alcohol for the different kinds of falls on the basis of our collective and to demonstrate similarities and differences between the subgroups.

Original languageEnglish
JournalForensic Science International
Issue number1-3
Pages (from-to)92-96
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - 05.2010


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