This is the first blog in a series on integrating new technologies into the process of forensic investigations. Documenting the scene of an incident accurately, efficiently, and safely is a key step in every investigation. Busy roadways and unstable structures present hazards to the investigator during the investigation process. The use of remote sensors can reduce these risks and provide data that otherwise could not safely be obtained.
The divorce had been finalized 15 years earlier. The husband had moved on with his life. He was happily remarried and enjoying his retirement years. The ex-wife could not let go. She sued in the Superior Court of Los Angeles claiming the husband would not relinquish rights to real property and other interests that had been part of the divorce settlement.
Software implementation contracts are frequently terminated with the software rejected amidst allegations from both supplier and customer, e.g. software/database errors/deficiencies, faulty design, shifting user/business requirements. An important technical issue on which the IT Expert appointed in such disputes is asked to give an expert opinion is: what was the quality of the delivered software and was it fit for purpose?
Persons with no training in engineering are generally unaware of the nature of engineering analysis, and so tend to assume that testing, as a means of determining the causation of accidents, is a dominant tool of the engineer. In the following examples, we shall undertake to explain the nature of engineering analysis, and to show that it is more basic than testing because testing without analysis is meaningless. Further, while analysis is always necessary in accident reconstruction, testing is only sometimes necessary.
Second to automobile accidents, accidents due to falls are the leading cause of injury and death. Of these, accidents due to slipping (not tripping) form a large proportion. Slipping may occur on floors, walkways, and stairs or steps. For Introductory purposes, however, the present discussion will be limited to slipping on flat surfaces such as a floor or sidewalk.
A car is stopped for a light when it is unexpectedly rear-ended by a vehicle from behind. It is not a hard impact and there is little or no damage to either vehicle, because the energy absorbing bumpers have protected them. Nevertheless, the passengers of the struck vehicle complain of neck, shoulder and back pain. The next day they allegedly experience even greater pain and visit a medical person who claims that they have been injured. Insurance claim representatives, attorneys, medical, engineering and biomedical experts are then brought in and various conflicting allegations, testimony and opinions are expressed. Do we have a legitimate injury claim on our hands or a situation of fraud?
Accident reconstructionists are often called on to determine the distance that a car, covers while being braked to a stop. Conversely, the reconstructionist may be given information as to the length of the skidmarks left by a car on the roadway, and may be asked to determine how fast the car must have been going at the beginning of the skid. An expert can accomplish this with considerable accuracy, based on a knowledge of the physical principles that are involved, plus available information relating to the friction of tires on various types of road surfaces.
According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), there are approximately 10,000 golf car related injuries requiring emergency room treatment in the US each year. One significant mode of injury in golf car accidents is passenger ejection, which can lead to serious injuries, especially of the head. Based on CPSC statistics, roughly 35% of golf car accidents involve a person falling out of the car. In addition to ejection accidents, at least 10% of golf car accidents involve a rollover and statistics indicate that such accidents are roughly twice as likely to lead to injuries requiring a hospital stay as non-rollover accidents.
According to Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) accident estimates, tens of thousands of stepladder accidents requiring emergency room treatment occurred annually in the United States. Approximately 85-90% of these accidents involve the user falling from the ladder and 8-9% of these injuries are serious enough to require that the victim be admitted to a hospital. In addition to posing a severe health concern, these accidents have significant loss-of-wages and high medical expense implications.