International Journal of Legal Medicine

, Volume 133, Issue 2, pp 547–551 | Cite as

A moving human body causes fatal blunt trauma: an unusual traffic accident

  • Annette Thierauf-EmbergerEmail author
  • Andreas Lickert
  • Stefan Pollak
Case Report


In urban traffic accidents, mainly pedestrians and cyclists are at risk of being injured and killed. Lethal injuries are usually caused by the immediate impact of a car or a tram. This paper presents a fatal accident without any direct contact with a motor vehicle. A 63-year-old woman sitting on a chair in a pavement cafe was killed by the impact of a 60-year-old male cyclist, who was flung in her direction after colliding with a car. Autopsy yielded intracutaneous haemorrhages on the impact sites of the female victim (left cheek, left shoulder and left upper arm). The woman sustained a ring fracture of the skull base encircling the foramen magnum with subtotal severance of the brain stem and massive chest trauma. All the injuries were caused by the blunt impact of the moving human body. The head was forcibly bent towards the contralateral shoulder resulting in a depression fracture of the skull. Reconstruction of the accident at the scene was challenging, as the fatally injured victim remained sitting on the chair and did not show any striking external signs of traumatisation. According to the assessment of the technical expert, the collision velocity of the moving body amounted to 6–8 m/s.


Traffic accident Human-human impact Blunt force Craniocerebral trauma 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Annette Thierauf-Emberger
    • 1
    Email author
  • Andreas Lickert
    • 2
  • Stefan Pollak
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Legal MedicineUniversity of Freiburg, Faculty of MedicineFreiburg im BreisgauGermany
  2. 2.Dekra Automobil GmbHFreiburg im BreisgauGermany

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