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Saph
2013-05-14, 07:12 AM
For a couple of different reasons (game- and book-related) I've been thinking about falling damage recently. Specifically, I'm trying to figure out what the median fatal falling distance is for an adult human in real life. (Kind of the equivalent of LD50 in toxicology.)

I remember once seeing a chart that some RPG enthusiast had put together which listed fall distance along with RL fatality percentage: basically, given a certain distance, how likely it was that falling that far would kill you. I'm sure it's on the Internet somewhere, but I haven't been able to find it again . . . does anyone have a link to it?

Bulhakov
2013-05-14, 08:24 AM
Good presentation on the various factors in fatal falls (though it doesn't cite any sources): http://www.google.pl/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=5&ved=0CF0QFjAE&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.kmuh.org.tw%2Fwww%2Fed%2Fteac hing%2FFall%2520from%2520height.ppt&ei=rjmSUcyOHoTIOZzmgYgE&usg=AFQjCNEHPyg5YYKCMPqVwKJPy9UWStb__A&sig2=XXRyIvgxjK6jO_qZBff7ow&bvm=bv.46471029,d.ZWU&cad=rja

A number that frequently appears online is 50% chance of death when falling from the 4-5th floor (however, the only reliable citation for this is from a paper analyzing accidental deaths of children, which are far more likely to survive a fall).

Saph
2013-05-15, 02:29 AM
That figure's useful . . . does anyone have a similar one for adults?

SowZ
2013-05-15, 03:50 AM
Only the knowledge that falls aren't as fatal as people think, just like handgun bullets aren't as fatal as many people think. My dad is a lion hunter, and he knows guys that have fallen off of fifty foot chasms chasing a cat and managed to get back to their truck and to a hospital. I've fallen twenty feet or so, (enough to kill you in many video games with fall damage,) and only had sore ankles.

Just distance isn't accurate, though. What you land on is very important. In a game, if you are trying to be accurate, you would need to give a plus or minus to the damage based on how hard the surface they fell on was and if there was anything, (like branches,) to slow down the fall.

But people who survive the 40+ foot falls are usually crippled or close to it for years and years if not life, as opposed to a bullet you can fully recover from. Hopefully someone gives a chart which would be more useful.

Brother Oni
2013-05-15, 04:58 AM
Edit: Sorry, I've gone into full scientist mode. TL,DR: 1 floor head first, 5 floors feet first.

Well this paper (link (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15307311)) suggests that the number you're looking for is tricky to pin down since it's highly dependent on the impact surface and how the person lands.

The paper assessed 660 fatal falls (290 accidental, 370 suicide) and found that all falls over 7m had a Injury Severity Score (http://www.trauma.org/archive/scores/iss.html) of 25+, with the primary cause of death being severe head injury. It also notes that using ISS as a death measure was not possible for falls over 30m onto a solid surface, presumably because the individual resembled a sack of broken bone and meat at that point.

The HSE gives good statistics on the number of accidents and deaths caused by falls from height (link (http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/causinj/slips-trips-and-falls.pdf)), but no value on the actual heights involved.

On less substantial note, this page (link (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=361878)) suggests 10-14 feet for a LD50 style value.
It later notes that 10-14 feet is just far enough to kill you, but not far enough to give you time to twist to brace yourself, so on a theoretical number of deaths vs falling distance chart, I wouldn't be surprised if there was a sudden rise at that distance which holds approximately level then rises sharply again at about 30ft.

An important note is that these distances are for falls, not jumps - falling off a ladder is substantially different to jumping off it.

Good presentation on the various factors in fatal falls (though it doesn't cite any sources): http://www.google.pl/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=5&ved=0CF0QFjAE&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.kmuh.org.tw%2Fwww%2Fed%2Fteac hing%2FFall%2520from%2520height.ppt&ei=rjmSUcyOHoTIOZzmgYgE&usg=AFQjCNEHPyg5YYKCMPqVwKJPy9UWStb__A&sig2=XXRyIvgxjK6jO_qZBff7ow&bvm=bv.46471029,d.ZWU&cad=rja

Actually it does: Correlation between pattern and mechanism of injury of free fall (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3482436/)

Reading that paper, the fall height is 5-7m for the median number of patients admitted but I can't find a fall height for the 14.3% mortality rate (the original presentation says a median of 15m though).

Another paper listed (An analysis of 161 falls from a height: the 'jumper syndrome' (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3735467)) says 5 stories (theoretical survivial rate of 50% based on the mean ISS of 41, but actually 83% survived).

The presentation gives an unsourced value of 50% mortality for a 1 floor fall (head first) and 5 floor fall (feet first), so given everything I've looked at, I suggest using that as a rule of thumb to save yourself a headache.

Saph
2013-05-16, 03:50 AM
That's perfect. Thanks! :smallsmile:

Razanir
2013-05-16, 02:13 PM
If you're interested in getting actual data on what damages you and how much in various systems, here's Legend's falling system–

Would it hurt? If so, you take damage. Otherwise you're fine.
Is it a dramatic plunge that would typically result in a character dying? If so, they're dead. Otherwise, 5d6 damage

Vknight
2013-05-17, 06:16 AM
Falls start being fatal to a person if directed at the head very early on

But that doesn't say much as falls and other dangerous impacts people have survived far beyond what should be considered possible

I could name at least 5 things. 2 of them involving me being the one getting injured

Brother Oni
2013-05-17, 11:05 AM
But that doesn't say much as falls and other dangerous impacts people have survived far beyond what should be considered possible

Hence why Saph asked for the median distance for a 50% mortality rate, rather than the average distance.

Vknight
2013-05-17, 01:38 PM
Hence why Saph asked for the median distance for a 50% mortality rate, rather than the average distance.

Very true
I was just saying that, take the unexpected, the impossible, and the mad and enjoy that delightful madness which can come from the improbability of life