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Bodily Injury Case Reviews: What your Forensic Nurse Expert can do for you

Tara M Godoy, BSN RN CFN 

Almost every state has a penal code/statute that relates to the seriousness of the injuries sustained by a victim of a crime. Most states define it as Serious Bodily Injury; some have a lesser called Substantial Bodily Injury. California calls it Great Bodily Injury and it is a felony strike that adds prison time to the sentence.

This presentation will review 5 cases to address different types of bodily injury and provides insight on how best to litigate them to achieve the desired outcome.

A brief review of the legal definition of bodily injury and expert testimony is done prior to case review. (5-10 mins)

Cases Reviewed (10-15 mins each):

  • Wrist Fracture

Fractures are often a factor in bodily injury determinations. In this case review we will discuss potential defenses and recommendations for expert testimony.

  • Nasal Fracture

Nasal fractures are unique because they have a high false positive rate. In this case review we will discuss the standards of care in diagnosing nasal fractures and the clinical presentation that is expected when the patient has an acute, or recent, fracture. We also discusses mechanism of other injuries.

  • Head Injury (Mechanism)

When there is no dispute as to who was involved in the assault, it is important to understand whether the allegations match the mechanism of injury. In this case we will discuss blunt versus sharp object injury characteristics as a manner of determining mechanism.

  • Head Injury (Disfigurement)

Disfigurement may be a factor that the jury will consider when determining whether bodily injury has been met. In this case we will discuss what types of wounds will result in visual disfigurement.

  • Fabrication of Injuries/Past Medical History

Victims will sometimes exaggerate their injuries, misunderstand the explanations of healthcare providers, or propose their previous conditions are new. This case review shows how this occurs and discusses how to tackle that in court.