Blunt force trauma is – as its name would suggest – a severe traumatic episode caused to the body or head with the sudden introduction of a blunt instrument used with great force. This can sometimes be caused by an attacker striking out at a victim with their hands, a large piece of wood, a baseball bat or other such item that would cause heavy damage to the body or skull if impacted against them quickly.
Blunt force trauma is something that is also experienced during a car accident, especially if the individuals involved are not wearing seatbelts and are catapulted forward at speed against the dashboard, steering wheel or indeed the rear of the driver and front passenger’s seats.
Blunt force trauma can also be inflicted without a great many visual indicators. A great number of individuals who die from this condition do so because of the internal injuries they have received, which may result in nothing more than some exterior bruising.
Signs of Blunt Force Trauma
There are of course several different signs of blunt force trauma and they are:
- Bruising: Often a good indicator that there are broken blood vessels beneath the surface of the skin. Although there may be some bruising this cannot always be a definite indicator as to how much damage has been sustained deeper within the body such as in the chest cavity and around the lungs.
- Abrasions: Cuts, grazing of the skin or friction burns which can be caused by the victim being beaten, dragged or kicked. These wounds can sometimes indicate that a victim hit against something or was hit with something and it can also be used to measure how much of a struggle the victim put up against his or her attacker.
- Lacerations:This is the tearing of tissue underneath the skin. An individual may be beaten severely or have sustained a severe bump against a stationary object and underneath the skin (subcutaneous) there may be severe damage caused to tissue and organs. Visual examinations do not always show this to be case and if the victim has died an autopsy will most certainly be carried out.
It is worth mentioning that the above do not always have to be present on the body of the victim of an attack to prove that blunt force trauma has been the root cause. This is because of the differences in the varying areas of the body relating to softness of tissue and mass of bone.
For example a person might be beaten or receive a heavy blow to the chest but may die as a result of a cardiac arrest or be beaten around the head where the skull casing can fracture and fragments make their way into the brain causing haemorrhaging. A blow to the abdomen – although inflicted in just the same heavy manner as a blow to the other mentioned parts of the body – may result in a ruptured spleen, which in itself can be fatal, if not treated.
In all aspects of blunt force trauma, it is a given that whether the cause of death can be visually recorded or not an autopsy will be carried out to prove definitively how the victim died. Read more in our Understanding Injuries section.