Head Impact Biomechanics of “King Hit” Assaults

  • Declan A. Patton
  • Andrew S. McIntosh
Reference work entry


A typical “king hit” assault case involves an intoxicated male victim being punched to the face, which results in the victim falling backward and striking his occiput on a rigid surface. The resulting head injuries may be due to the punch, the fall, or a combination of both, which can cause permanent disability and sometimes prove fatal. For fatal cases, subarachnoid hematoma is typically the cause of death; however, subdural hematoma and skull fracture are also common in king hit assault cases. The victim may be intoxicated, which may have biomechanical consequences in terms of head and neck control and movement. In addition, alcohol intoxication may reduce the tolerance of the blood vessels to applied loads and increase the likelihood of intracranial hematoma. A biomechanist can assist in understanding a king hit assault incident and injury causation by comparing information from the evidence brief with experimental data from literature pertaining to punches, falls, and head injury tolerance limits.


Assault Fall Forensics Head injury Impact biomechanics Punch 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Australian Collaboration for Research into Injury in Sport and its Prevention (ACRISP)Federation University AustraliaBallaratAustralia
  2. 2.Oslo Sports Trauma Research Centre (OSTRC)Norwegian School of Sport SciencesOsloNorway
  3. 3.Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre (SIPRC)University of CalgaryCalgaryCanada
  4. 4.Monash University Accident Research CentreMonash UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  5. 5.McIntosh Consultancy and ResearchSydneyAustralia

Section editors and affiliations

  • Andrew McIntosh
    • 1
  1. 1.CremorneAustralia

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