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What is actually considered a serious bodily injury in assault cases? Examples of words I am looking for are shoulder dislocation, bone fractures (what kind/how many), etc. Where is the list?

  • There probably isn't any such list. Legislatures usually use general language like "serious" without being more specific, and it's left up to courts to decide, in each case that comes before them, whether the injury in that specific case was "serious". Over time there can emerge general principles for how to make that decision, and precedents establishing that certain types injuries are serious and others are not, but there's never a complete and definitive list. – Nate Eldredge Apr 10 at 21:50
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“Serious” means what it means in English

Courts look at the injury and decide if it’s serious or not. There is no predefined list.

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  • There has to be a list – user30887 Apr 11 at 6:43
  • @why would there be a list - Indian burn, not serious; arm chopped off, serious and so on. – Dale M Apr 11 at 6:48
  • There has to be some guidance – user30887 Apr 11 at 6:49
  • Guidance is simple - don't cause any injury that might be considered serious. We don't want a criminal looking at a list to determine what is the worst they can do without it being considered "serious". – gnasher729 Apr 11 at 21:54
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While there are no lists, there are definitions, especially when it comes to criminal law. It depends on the specific law. In 1973, Montana had the following definitions

"Serious bodily injury" means bodily injury which creates a substantial risk of death or which causes serious permanent disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of the function or process of any bodily member or organ. It includes serious mental illness or impairment.

"Bodily injury" means physical pain, illness, or any impairment of physical condition and includes mental illness or impairment

(Cited from this article). The current version of the term under Montana law (addition emphasized) is

(a) "Serious bodily injury" means bodily injury that: (i) creates a substantial risk of death; (ii) causes serious permanent disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of the function or process of a bodily member or organ; or (iii) at the time of injury, can reasonably be expected to result in serious permanent disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of the function or process of a bodily member or organ.

(b) The term includes serious mental illness or impairment.

The third clause in the revised definition takes the term beyond ordinary word definitions. 18 USC 2246(4) defines it as

bodily injury that involves a substantial risk of death, unconsciousness, extreme physical pain, protracted and obvious disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member, organ, or mental faculty;

for purposed of federal laws related to sexual abuse. The inclusion of mental illness or impairment is significant, because mental impairments are outside the ordinary language scope of bodily injury – this was a deliberate choice.

There is an alternative term in Nevada, "substantial bodily harm", defined in NRS 0.060 as

  1. Bodily injury which creates a substantial risk of death or which causes serious, permanent disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ; or

  2. Prolonged physical pain.

This is what is applicable to assault in Nevada, and not "serious bodily injury". Interestingly, "serious bodily injury" persist in NRS 200.278, which has to do with a person in secondary school who "unlawfully caused or attempted to cause serious bodily injury to another person", but the term is not defined statutorily and not distinguished from "substantial bodily harm".

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