Forensic Engineering - The facts?
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A building collapses. Folks are injured. Property is damaged. As soon as the dust settles, the legal system kicks into gear and also the courts seek to determine the reason for the collapse therefore the injured party can be made whole. By doing this, the courts have to have the assistance of an expert to sort through the facts to determine the cause and origin of the failure. By definition, that expert engages when the practice of forensic engineering.
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Unlike traditional undergraduate, graduate or doctorate engineering curriculum, forensic engineering has never been taught as a core engineering science program. This is because Forensic Engineering is the use of many different engineering and scientific principles to determine the root cause of a physical or performance failure. The basic structure of any forensic investigation involves collecting data, a technical review of the failure, progression of a failure profile, investigation synthesis, growth and development of a hypothesis, and reporting.
Many of the engagements undertaken by the forensic engineer do not involve sworn testimony. However, if serving as an expert and providing an impression in a court of law, the engineer must demonstrate a unique knowledge of the subject matter where the opinion is based. That special knowledge comes through years off education, experience, and training.
The anatomy of a typical forensic engineering engagement for any structural engineer demonstrates the unique aspects of the forensic engineering profession:
A home floods. A plumber determines which a water line embedded inside a house slab is broken and leaking. In addition to flood damage, your home structure and foundation sustain damage available as foundation and brittle wall material cracking. The homeowner would like to determine if the water from your leak caused the inspiration and wall damage. A forensic engineer is engaged to determine the cause of the apparent problems for the foundation and walls.
The forensic engineer collects data, technically looks at the damage, develops an inability profile, synthesizes this info, develops failure cause and origin hypothesis, after which reports upon the hypothesis by means of a concluding opinion. The homeowner may depend on the expert's opinion to help make the proper damage repairs.
If the homeowner seeks to recover damages through the courts, the forensic engineer could possibly be called to provide sworn testimony. The testimony presumably would cover the cornerstone of the engineer's failure opinion and then any other aspect of the case associated with the engineer's investigation. The sworn testimony could be limited to an oral deposition. In the event the matter is litigated further, the engineer may be required to testify before a jury. As the courts may depend upon the engineers testimony as factual evidence, the engineer's testimony may by scrutinized by cross-examination to allow the jury to look for the credibility of the engineer's opinion.