Skeletal fractures resulting from fatal falls: A review of the literature

Samantha K. Rowbotham, Soren Blau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


To investigate what is currently known about skeletal blunt force trauma (BFT) resulting from falls, and how valuable that research is in contributing to forensic anthropology investigations and interpretations of circumstances of death, a comprehensive review of forensic anthropology, forensic pathology and clinical medicine literature was performed. Forensic anthropology literature identified that establishing the type of fall from the analysis of BFT is difficult given the uniqueness of each fall event, the complexities involved with identify BFT and, in particular, the limited available research documenting fracture patterning and morphologies. Comparatively, skeletal BFT resulting from fatal falls is well documented in the forensic pathology and clinical medicine literature. These disciplines cover a wide range of fall types (free falls, falls in juveniles, specific fractures produced from falls, falls down staircases, falls resulting in impalements, and ‘other’ fall types), provide details on how the nature of the fall influences the skeletal fracturing, and documents the anatomical regions susceptible to fracturing. Whilst these contributions may assist forensic anthropologists, they provide limited details of fracture patterns and morphologies and thus further research investigating the details of skeletal BFT resulting from fatal falls is required.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)582.e1-582.e15
JournalForensic Science International
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2016


  • Blunt force trauma
  • Fall
  • Forensic anthropology
  • Fracture
  • Review

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