Forensic Engineering – What is It?

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A building collapses. Everyone is injured. Property is damaged. As soon as the dust settles, the courts kicks into gear and the courts seek to determine explanation for the collapse therefore the injured party can be made whole. As a result, the courts require assistance of an expert to go through the facts to determine the cause and origin in the failure. By definition, that expert engages if your practice of forensic engineering.

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Unlike traditional undergraduate, graduate or doctorate engineering curriculum, forensic engineering isn’t taught as a core engineering science program. The reason is Forensic Engineering is the application of many different engineering and scientific principles to determine the root cause of a physical or performance failure. Principle structure of any forensic investigation involves collecting data, a technical overview of the failure, progression of a failure profile, investigation synthesis, continuing development of a hypothesis, and reporting.

Most of the engagements undertaken with the forensic engineer do not involve sworn testimony. However when serving as an expert and providing an opinion in a court of law, the engineer must demonstrate a special knowledge of the subject matter upon which the opinion is based. That special knowledge comes through years off education, experience, and training.

The anatomy of many forensic engineering engagement for any structural engineer demonstrates the aspects of the forensic engineering profession:

A property floods. A plumber determines which a water line embedded within a house slab is broken and leaking. Together with flood damage, the house structure and foundation sustain damage as foundation and brittle wall material cracking. The homeowner would like to determine if the water from the leak caused the building blocks 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 reviews the damage, develops failing profile, synthesizes these records, develops failure cause and origin hypothesis, and after that reports upon the hypothesis in the form of a concluding opinion. The homeowner may trust the expert’s opinion to really make the proper damage repairs.

If the homeowner seeks to recoup damages through the courts, the forensic engineer could possibly be called to provide sworn testimony. The testimony presumably would cover the basis of the engineer’s failure opinion as well as any other aspect of the case associated with the engineer’s investigation. The sworn testimony may be limited to an oral deposition. When the matter is litigated further, the engineer are usually necesary to testify before a jury. Whilst the courts may count on the engineers testimony as factual evidence, the engineer’s testimony will likely by scrutinized by cross-examination allowing the jury to look for the credibility of the engineer’s opinion.