John Libbey Eurotext

Sciences sociales et santé


Quantifying injuries. The assessment of total incapacity to work in forensic medicine Volume 36, issue 4, Décembre 2018

* Romain Juston, sociologue, CSO, Sciences Po, 19, rue Amélie, 75007 Paris, France et Laboratoire PRINTEMPS, UVSQ, 47 Boulevard Vauban, 78047 Guyancourt Cedex, France
  • Key words: forensic medicine, expertise, judicial work
  • DOI : 10.1684/sss.2018.0125
  • Page(s) : 41-64
  • Published in: 2018

Forensic medicine in France mostly consists in examining victims of aggression in dedicated hospital services called “Unités Médico-Judiciaires” (UMJ, medico-judiciary units). This article explores the evaluation of injuries carried out by forensic pathologists upon the request of the prosecutor. This evaluation serves as a basis for the production of certificates, as well as for the calculation of the number of days of total incapacity to work (ITT). This article examines this calculation, which is highly variable, and analyses the social determinants of forensic judgment on two distinct levels. It first shows that each UMJ strives to resolve the heterogeneity of opinions on ITT, by implementing its own corrective measures. UMJ therefore problematize forensic medicine as a “report medicine”, grounded into harmonized practices. The article then analyses how ITT is dealt with in medical consultations, and shows that forensic pathologists engage with a “medicine of violence”. In their medical practice, they confront the diversity of situations which require expertise, assemble and combine different frameworks at the intersection of the medical and the judicial while assessing the victims’ singular bodies and words.