Medico-legal classifications of Injury and Wound

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Medico-legal classifications of Injury & Wound

  • Define Injury and Wound.
  • Discuss medico-legal classifications of Injury and Wound.
  • State the differences between Simple, grievous, and dangerous injury.
  • How is the nature of Injury determined?
  • What are the characteristics of Accidental, Homicidal, and Suicidal Wounds?
  • How can they be differentiated?
  • What do you understand by accident? 
  • What are the characteristics of an Accidental Wound? 
  • Explain its medico legal aspects briefly.
  • Which kind of injuries happens in Vehicular accidents?
  • Differentiate between incisive and lacerated wounds.

Injury and Wound

A wound is a term given to tissue damage caused by mechanical force. It is the forcible solution of continuity by mechanical force or any of the tissues of the body including the skin, mucous membrane, or cornea. This includes wounds caused by stabbing, blunt trauma (punching, kicking, beating etc), strangling, biting, shooting, falling from a height, being hit by a vehicle, and blast trauma from explosives.  In legal medicine, the word Wound means all lesions of the body and also includes bruises, contusions, fractures, dislocations, and the like. In general, to make a wound, in criminal cases, there must be an injury to the person by which any kind of tissue is broken.

Injury is a result of an accident, fighting, or when one is hurt while doing something. For example injury while playing or injuries in a bomb blast. A wound is when one is hurt with a weapon, especially a knife or a gunshot.

The word “injury” also has specific legal connotations as given in Section 44 of IPC, which says: The word “injury” denotes any harm whatever illegally caused to any person, in body, mind, reputation, or property.  Thus, all wounds are injuries but all injuries may not be wounded.

Descriptions of wounds must include:

  1. the nature of the wound, ie whether it is a bruise, abrasion or laceration, etc
  2. the wound dimensions, eg length, width, depth, etc. It is helpful to take a photograph of the wound with an indication of dimension (eg a tape measure placed next to the wound), and for measurements to be taken of the wound as it appears first, and then with wound edges drawn together (if it is a laceration etc).
  3. the position of the wound in relation to fixed anatomical landmarks, eg distance from the midline, below the clavicle etc
  4. the height of the wound from the heel (ie ground level) – this is particularly important in cases where pedestrians have been struck by motor vehicles

Medical Classification of Wounds

  1. abrasions – loss of the superficial epithilial layer of the skin and do not leave a scar after healing.
  2. bruises/ contusions / haematomas – blow from a blunt weapon such as lathi. caused due to rupture of small subcutaneous blood vessels, called ecchymosis. e.g. black eye
  3. lacerations – tears or splits produced by blows from blunt objects e.g fall on hard surface, machinery, railway accidents, claws or teeth of animal, edges are irregular with surrounding abrasion, deeper tissues are torn 
  4. incised/slash wounds – orderly solution of skin and tissue by sharp cutting instruments such as knife, razor, or scissors.
  5. perforating
  6. punches
  7. kicks
  8. bite marks
  9. defense injuries

Legal Classification of Wounds

  1. Simple – one which is neither extensive nor serious and which heals rapidly without leaving any permanent disfigurement or deformity.
  2. Grievous – one which is covered under S. 320 of IPC – emasculation, permanent privation of the sight or either eye, ear, the privation of any joint, permanent impairing of the powers of any member or joint, permanent disfigurement of head or face, fracture or dislocation of a bone or tooth, any hurt which endangers life or which causes the sufferer during the space of 20 days in severe bodily pain or unable to follow his ordinary pursuits.
  3. Fatal – extensive and implicate important structures or organs so that they prove fatal.
Accidental WoundsHomicidal WoundsSuicidal Wounds
It May or may not be self-inflicted
Situation and Characterclothes are damaged, the room is disturbedUsually incised, punctured, or gunshot, clothes are not damaged, in a closed room
Number,maybe multiple in any directionUsually single shot or multiple linear and parallel
Direction and extentdeep at the beginning and superficial at the endSlightly angled upwards, superficial at the beginning and deep at the end
Locationanywhereusually on the front, especially on the chest, throat, wrist, or temple
Weapon Locationusually absentclenched in hands
Surrounding evidenceStrugglesuicide note
Defensive cutspresent
Hesitant or Tentative cutspresent

Wounds in Vehicular Accidents

Site of impact
direction of impact
force of impact
design of vehicle
behavior of vehicle
ejection of victim
supervening factor such as fire
Pedestrain Injuries
Occupants Injuries
Primary Impact
Secondary Impact

Click here to read Law of Torts.

Click here to read IPC 1860.

Click here to read the Constitution of India.

“Safe Harbour” Protection Available To Intermediaries Qua Criminal Prosecution Unless ‘Active Role’ Is Disclosed In Commission Of Offence: Delhi HC

Rule Of Evidence To Prove Charges In A Criminal Trial Cannot Be Used While Deciding Motor Accident Compensation Claims: Supreme Court

Defamation Cases For Reporting Details Of FIR Nothing But Attempt To Stifle Reporter: Bombay High Court