This is the last in the “5 things criminal attorneys should know about…” series where I highlight some areas of medicine that often cross into the criminal fields. This is not meant to be an in-depth review, but rather just bullet pointed facts. If you have any subject requests let me know!

For this month we’re going to highlight Bruises:

  • Dating bruises – bruises cannot be dated by color. IF yellow can be identified, one can determine that the bruise is at least 18 hours old. However, what you call yellow I may call brown, so this is a very precarious area to base an opinion on. All other colors can be observed from the first appearance until the bruise heals.
  • Raccoons eyes – bilateral black eyes. Can be a result of a skull fracture at the back of the head and completely absent of any facial trauma. (yes you read that correctly. The ONLY injury MAY be a skull fracture to the BACK of the head)
  • Battles sign – bruising behind one or both ears. Also may be a result of a skull fracture to the back of the head.
  • Alcohol – has mild blood thinning effects so will cause easier bruising and bleeding. This is true of a chronic alcoholic even if they are not intoxicated in the moment, or of someone who is intoxicated at the time of the event.
  • Patterned bruises – Bruises may present as a patterns (ie. handprints, belt buckles) – the size and general characteristics of the object will match the size and general characteristics of the bruise. The bruise may be an inverse pattern: For example – a cylindrical object such as a bat leaves bruises that appear as parallel tracks and the size of the bat is represented in the area of “sparing” (no bruise) in between the tracks.

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