BY Preeti Shah | April 13, 2022
Forensic engineering's primary aim is to make the world a safer place to live. It focuses on evaluating the root cause of failure and what can be done to meet the end user's expectations. The result leads to a better structure with robust design and reliable operations. Also, it ensures unbiased analysis of loss and delivers results that help in insurance claim settlement and solving court cases.
One of the most sought-after fields of forensic engineering is accident reconstruction. It focuses on analyzing the factors responsible for the crash. Both private firms and government agencies hire accident reconstructionists to evaluate the cause of the crash. It helps not only to find why the crash happened but can also bring forth the one responsible for it.
It is a field that requires practical hands-on experience besides professional education to assist clients in solving complex cases and act as an expert witness if required in a court of law.
Forensic engineering involves applying the engineering knowledge or principles to investigate the cause behind the failure of a machine or a structure. The concept of reverse engineering is used, which means retracing the process step-by-step that led to the failure to find the reason for the improper functioning of a component, machine, or structure. The failure can be minor or disastrous.
The findings from the investigation are recorded and presented to the insurance companies, builders, manufacturers, law firms, or used by forensic experts in a court of law if they relate to the crime.
Liabilities such as loss of life, injuries, or property damage can result from failures. Hence forensic investigation is needed in claim settlement, prosecution, and defense.
- Insurance companies
- Law firms
- Financial firms
- Product manufacturers
- Project consultants
Several civil and criminal trials, insurance frauds, contractual disputes, etc., requires forensic investigation as a part of the resolution process. The findings help to recognize the problems and help engineers and manufacturers avoid repeating similar mistakes in the future.
Below is a list of a few ways forensic engineering helps resolve disputes:
- Expert testimony in the court of law to help simplify and explain technical issues
- Findings that help determine compensation during claim adjustment
- Help reduce the application failure rate
- Improved performance and increased safety of components and machine parts
- Formulating best practices to minimize the failure rate
There is no limit to incidents that need forensic engineering services. One of the most common types is road accident reconstruction.
The main issues tackled are vehicle condition, accident scene investigation, in-depth examination of vehicle damage, vehicle component failure (like brake, steering, light bulb), speed analysis, injuries caused to people due to the accident, seat belt usage examination, and tire mark analysis among several others.
The forensic engineers’ team might work with government regulators, industrial clients, commercial clients, health and safety bodies, etc. Both defendants and claimants depend on expert testimony that establishes a series of events and presents the cause of occurrence.
Accident reconstruction involves a step-by-step analysis of causes that led to the accident. The steps involve minutely investigating and gathering the evidence left at the accident site, followed by reconstruction and studying the events before, during, and after the accident. It is done to unfold the cause of the accident and reach a conclusion.
Accident reconstructionists follow a step-by-step procedure to investigate the accident scene, starting from basic evidence gathering to creating an investigation plan and forming a team to carry out an unbiased investigation to determine the cause that led to the accident and its degree of seriousness.
Key parameters involved in reconstructing an accident:
- Detailed analysis of vehicle(s) involved in the accident
- Site investigation to collect any physical evidence left
- Road condition and visibility issues
- Analyzing component failure, if any that led to the loss of driver control
- Examining damage impact on the vehicle and nearby objects
- Reviewing witness and police officers' statements, traffic collision reports, and other documents
- Interpreting people's behavior
- Inspecting vehicle glass, light bulbs, seat belts, airbags
- Vehicle speed analysis
- Analyzing and interpreting tire marks
- Inspecting roll-over of heavy goods vehicle
- Analyzing injuries caused to people related to the accident
The report is submitted by reconstructionists and might also develop 3D models demonstrating how the accident occurred. This report is crucial evidence in cases involving claim settlements.
Forensic engineering is a promising field. To be a forensic engineer, you must have a curious mindset and a love for solving problems. You should also possess excellent research abilities to know how things work to analyze the root cause of the incident occurrence. Along with in-depth knowledge and experience of accident investigation, you must also have the know-how of law enforcement to present yourself as an expert witness in the court of law.
Though earning a specialized engineering degree such as civil, chemical, mechanical, electrical, material, environmental, etc., is the first step to success, the real success as a forensic engineer comes from real-world training and experience.
You can gain training and experience by enrolling in a forensic engineering course.
SIFS India offers globally recognized certificate and diploma courses in this field.
Do you want to know more about forensic engineering and accident reconstruction? If you want to learn how to get involved in the field, please contact us here.
You can also read the quiz blog on forensic engineering for more insight.