Forensic Engineering Expert Services: How Design and Expert Witness Reports Should Be Done

18 July 2019

Just like any other professionally commissioned service, Forensic Engineering work must be conducted by a well-versed expert. Erudite in manner, this enterprising individual applies a vocationally adept mindset. Now, arriving on site, perhaps after a nasty structural issue has been discovered, the real job begins. Charged with a weighty responsibility, the forensic engineer gathers data from all angles, including site bystanders. Critically, that data must then be objectively compiled.

Data Gathering: Objectivity Above All Else

If a technically flavoured debacle of some kind has arisen, the individual who gathers the different accounts and perspectives of the incident must contain facts and nothing else. If some structure has become damaged, some building has been found to be less than safe or less than design-compliant, a forensic engineering team will trace down the various causative factors. That’s their job, after all, and they’re very good at using their various technically focused credentials to track down structural shortcomings. However, the information they gather, the witness reports they generate, must be factually grounded. Remember, these aren’t simply bystander accounts; they’re the potentially admissible testimonies that could incriminate an engineering service.

Compiling Expert Witness Reports

On the data gathering side of things, the team gathers facts and figures. Opinions are there as well, but only as witness testimony. Importantly, the accounts must be written down in a clear and concise manner. Backed up by engineering tables and graphs, the data should be easy to interpret. If there’s a question mark floating above a particular issue, then that question should have an answer, one that’s not shrouded in technical jargon. At the site of the investigation, the conditions are noted, structural defects are recorded, and the initial report framework is outlined. Back with the witnesses, in an attempt to extrapolate the cause, the investigators move onto anyone who was in the area when the event occurred. Documenting every word, facts are separated from emotional hyperbole.

It’s not always easy to remain objective, not in the face of adversity. And that’s what happens to witnesses when they’re stressed, they experience weird time shifts and perspective changes. That’s all the more reason to, whenever at all possible, focus on the facts. Gathering this data and compiling it into an easy to interpret report, a forensic engineering service avoids engineering jargon and technical acronyms. Yes, as a matter of course, Witness Reports will contain biased opinions, but that’s because this is a testimony. Cutting through the potentially prejudiced bystander statements, it’s the job of the investigative team to clarify the truth, to support the case with pure facts, figures and objective scientific principles.

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