This month’s case relates to a motorized scooter accident. Scooters can be gas or electric powered and can reach speeds of 20 mph. Unfortunately they often compete with cars for the roadway and they alwayslose.
In this case, a young man on his scooter was sideswiped by V #1 and then struck by V#2. He died of massive head injuries. The question was, what caused his death?
2) head contact with the scooter
3) head contact with vehicle #1
4) head contact with vehicle #2
The task was to discern which caused his death. First came an evaluation of the autopsy. The report stated that he died of blunt traumatic injuries to the head. Specific head injuries were noted. It was also noted that there was an absence of any major injury to the neck, abdomen, thorax or extremities. Now it was time to evaluate the four possibilities.
Head-to-ground contact due to falling
Significant force can be produced in a simple fall to the ground (a hard surface). It is important to understand, however, that the magnitude of the force from a fall is dependent on the height of the fall and independent of horizontal velocity. In his case, his maximum fall height was 64 inches. Calculation of the approximate force produced by an unbroken free fall from a height of 64 inches (an absolute “worst case” scenario), demonstrated that such a fall could not result in a head contact force of sufficient magnitude to produce the observed skull fracture and the underlying brain injury in this case even under the “worst case” fall scenario. Further, the skull fracture patterns observed were absolutely inconsistent with a fall to the ground, which was a flat surface. His head injuries were not the result of a fall to the pavement.
Head contact with the scooter
Head contact with Vehicle #1