"Attorneys! Help us help you..."
Got a case? Got a ladder, railing, deck collapse, or other structural failure case? Have a retaining wall collapse, foundation settle, hoist beam buckle under load, or a host of other structural failures involved in an accident or subrogation? Good cases to bring in the engineer for code review, for calculations, or simply for an overall opinion. How do we help you? You help us help you.
The list. Engineers love information. In the types of cases listed above, we NEED information. A quick list of some things we need to help your case:
1) Specific location, type of location, address, and date of loss (DOL) or date of occurrence?
Address and date help us determine the required code or standard that was in effect at the time accident or loss. This helps us determine what the duties and structural requirements were relating to the parties and the components involved. Type of location helps determine a specific code or standard…. Was it residential, commercial, or industrial? Was there public access?
2) Pictures and videos of the site and components?
The more the better! From all angles, in different lights, close ups, etc. You need them and so do we.
3) Exemplars and samples of the materials?
Nothing helps more! We can help with storage, just get them! Materials used are not always what they were supposed to be. Materials testing can make or break many cases.
4) Confirmed dimensions of items?
Add a tape measure in the pictures above and we are almost there. Get confirmed dimensions of components, especially if the components are now gone and we are working solely from pictures. A few inches can make a difference!
5) Any design drawings, tech sheets, or other details of what should have been there?
Having the design documents give us a good window into codes used, loads accounted for in the design, and materials that were supposed to be used. These may be in the designer's files or may be filed with the local building department. We can help sort through plan rooms and files if needed.
6) Witness accounts, depositions, etc.?
The more we know about what happened during and around the event, the better. Sounds, noises, things they noticed two weeks before…. all of these are key pieces of information to help determine what and why.
Who am I? An engineer who tries to solve the problem and make it go away. Have worked in manufacturing, design, and now provide consulting engineering services to a host of industries. Hope this article helps get you thinking about what questions to ask and what information to gather to help us help you. Send me an email if you have any thoughts or just need some help.