Accidents Auto Collision Investigation

Forensic Analysis Accident Invesitgations

Background Information:
Motor vehicle accidents occur in any part of the world every 60 seconds, resulting in approximately 5.25 million driving accidents per year. Our client was one of the unlucky individuals involved in an auto collision. The insured consulted the experts at Forensic Analysis & Engineering Corporation to help establish WHY and how the accident happened.

Assigned Task:
The assigned task was to specifically determine if it was possible for the plaintiff (Vehicle A) to have made a U-Turn and have impacted our client’s vehicle (Vehicle B) causing the limited visible damage to his vehicle but resulting in the substantial damage to Vehicle A and other nearby vehicles thereafter. An expert from FAEC was promptly on the scene to investigate the situation.

Observations and Findings:
After comparing the damage of the insured vehicle to the accident scene and photographically capturing numerous vehicles traversing through the subject intersection in all directions and manner of travel, we established with a high degree of certainty the following:

  1. The pattern of paint deposition upon the left front bumper of Vehicle B indicates that paint was deposited in a transverse or lateral direction not at an angle as would have been found if both vehicles were moving simultaneously. It is apparent that Vehicle A was moving during the course of her turn thus Vehicle B must have been stopped at the time of actual contact.
  2. The primary differences between the resulting actions of the two vehicles immediately following the impact would have been their individual speeds at the time of the impact, their direction of travel and individual masses. Factually, we know that Vehicle A was smaller and lighter than Vehicle B. Based upon her own statement, we know that Vehicle A was in the process of making a left turn, either a U turn or a more common left turn.
  3. The specific cause of the damage to the third and fourth vehicles involved in this incident was the loss of control by Vehicle A both prior to and following the impact. It is quite evident that Vehicle A failed to properly execute a safe, controlled and tight turn into the nearest open lane of travel.

Results of the Investigation:
Forensic Analysis & Engineering was able to establish WHY one vehicle sustained substantial damage and why our client’s vehicle had more minor damages. From FAEC’s detailed, comprehensive report and full-color pictures, our client was able to claim the appropriate damages.

Storm Events Determination of Flood versus Other Damage Causations

FAEC performs quality storm event Investigations

Background Information:
Hurricane Sandy affected over a dozen states and millions of people felt her force. Strong winds and high tides during the height of the superstorm blasted against a condominium complex on a long stretch of beachfront in New Jersey. Based upon our review of the storm data, maximum wind speed gusts of 56 mph and maximum wind speeds of 39 mph were recorded in the specific area. A maximum tide height was measured at a nearby station at 7.2 feet above Mean Lower Low Water. Significant structural damage was sustained by the buildings. The insurer decided to consult the experts at Forensic Analysis & Engineering Corporation to establish WHYthe damage occurred and determine if the storm’s wind or surging waters was in fact the cause of the damage to the buildings.

Assigned Task:
The assigned task was to examine & determine the specific causation of the damage at the insured properties and to provide an objective written expert opinion, including necessary supporting rationale. Specifically, FAEC experts were asked to investigate six-three storied condominium units and determine the initial cause of the damage to the units.

Observations & Findings:
Based upon debris lines on the walls we estimated approximately 7 feet of water was in the lower level and approximately 3 feet of water in the first floor of the units. Our observations in this case consisted of:

  1. The first-floor damage in the buildings was the result of flood waters. Water level marks indicate that up to seven feet of water covered the lower level of the first floor and up to three feet of water covered the higher floor level of the first floor in the beachfront building.
  2. The first-floor siding on the beachfront building was damaged by the storm surge and flood waters.
  3. The water stains on the interior wall surfaces around the second story windows and sliding glass doors in the beachfront building were the result of windblown rains penetrating in and around the windows and openings.
  4. The damage to the shingles on both buildings and the missing furnace pipe cap were the result of high winds.
  5. The loss of a seal in several roof skylights is oftentimes caused by significant barometric pressure changes and high winds in passing storms.

Results of the Investigation:
Forensic Analysis & Engineering was able to determine the cause of the structural damage, and established WHY the damages occurred. From FAEC’s detailed, comprehensive report and full-color pictures, the client was able to claim the appropriate damages to the proper parties and begin recovery efforts from the storm.

Fire / Explosion Electrical Circuit Panel Failure – Short Circuit Causes Fire Loss

Forensic analysis involving fire explosions

Background Information:
The effects of a fire can be devastating leading to loss of property, electricity, and even lives. An electrical outage and main breaker panel fire occurred at the insured’s nursing home facility causing some damage and major power outage. FAEC was contacted the next day to immediately conduct an examination of the fire and smoke damaged facility to establish WHY an electrical panel failure and associated fire within the unit occurred.

 

Assigned Task:
FAEC was asked to perform an engineering examination and evaluation into the causation of the electrical fire and outage that originated with the subject panel.

Observations and Findings:
Based upon the information identified during the course of our examination, we were able to determine the following:

  1. Upon examination of the subject fuse and breaker panel, FAEC found all three incoming power leg fuses to still contain continuity, showing that an external power surge originating from an external source such as lightning, did not occur.
  2. FAEC found that the subject copper conductor’s connected end had become compressed over time, producing a thinner set. This was due to the presence of a high heat environment and cyclic vibration induced by nearby boiler machinery.
  3. FAEC found the loss to be accidental, the fire within the panel was vibration and thermal induced.
  4. FAEC determined that the puncturing of the conductor’s jacket was caused by vibration over time, and the thinning of the jacket was from the heat exposure in the basement of the facility.
  5. Exposure of the energy charged conductors resulted in metal to metal contact causing an instantaneous flow of energy through the electrical panel structure, inducing a flash and burn of additional conductor jacketing and the fire.

Results of the Investigation:
Forensic Analysis & Engineering was able to determine the cause of the electrical failure and establish WHY the damage occurred, from our detailed, comprehensive report and full-color pictures.

Geotechnical Damages Sinkhole Claim Investigation

Sinkhole claim investigations

Sinkholes are depressions in the land surface that are a common occurrence in the Florida landscape. Because sinkholes can cause extensive damage resulting in costly repairs, homeowners need to be aware of the signs of an underlying geotechnical disaster. One such case involved a residence with cracks in the driveway, walkway, and porch, eventually developing into the interior of the house as well. Since the residence was located in Florida, there was a great possibility of causation by a sinkhole. The client contacted Forensic Analysis & Engineering to establish WHY substantial cracks were occurring in both the exterior and interior of the dwelling.

Assigned Task:
The assigned task was to examine damage at the insured property and to provide an objective expert opinion, including supporting rationale. FAEC was asked to investigate the cause of the damaged building by inspecting the single family, single-story house and determine the cause of the cracks in the pavement and brickwork.

Observations and Findings:
Tests were performed at the residence to determine the cause of the damages including Standard Penetration Tests (SPT) and multiple boring to determine if voids existed beneath the slab in areas of the house where damage was observed. Based upon the information provided by the tests, FAEC was able to determine the following:

  1. Based on the location of the site with regards to sinkhole probability, the reported depth to limestone at the site location, and the results of the Standard Penetration Test borings, FAEC eliminated sinkhole activity as the cause of damage.
  2. The actual damage to the house consisted of one significant shear crack running throughout the house and is the result of the sinking of the floor slab caused by lack of support from the soil sub-grade.
  3. Other smaller cracks in the residence and flat work were the result of relatively small amounts of compression of the loose surficial sand layer.

Results of the Investigation:
Forensic Analysis & Engineering determined the cause of the geotechnical damage occurring to the residence, established WHY each of the damages occurred and that it was not attributed to a sinkhole. FAEC worked with the client from beginning to end, offering consultation for further remedial action. From our detailed, comprehensive report and full-color pictures, the client was able to claim the appropriate damages to the proper parties and begin renovation efforts.

Marine Losses Vessel Engine Seawater Pump Failure Analysis

FAEC performs enginerring analysis and investigation services for marine losses

Background Information:
A marine loss required the specific expertise of Forensic Analysis & Engineering Corporation and its subsidiary, Forensic Marine Investigations (FMI). When a client’s vessel took on water and became partially to fully submerged, it prompted the subject claim investigation. Once the water pump was identified to have a significant crack in this plastic housing cover, it was removed and forwarded directly to FMI for forensic inspection. The client consulted the experts at Forensic Marine Investigations for our specialized knowledge to help establish WHY the engine water pump failed.

Assigned Task:
The assigned task was to examine a supplied marine engine water pump housing and to determine if possible, the specific causation(s) of its failure.

Observations and Findings:
The following investigative findings and conclusions were presented based upon our visual and microscopic examination of the subject water pump housing:

  1. FMI found that the subject water pump housing was cracked in a ‘U’ shaped pattern and that it originated near the top of the pump’s molded plastic impeller housing cover.
  2. In our examination of the bolt holes in the impeller housing, we found a slight misalignment of the holes to what the housing was mated.
  3. Additionally, the repetitive and cyclic vibrations that are developed during the course of the normal operation of the engine would induce additional stresses into the tightly bound casing.
  4. The instigation of cyclic loading into a prestressed molded plastic housing that has by design inherent areas of high stress concentrations resulted in the instigation of a fracture in the one of the square cornered areas within the molded piece.
  5. While the bending stress that was applied to the housing cover when it was bolted down each time added to the strain being applied to the cover, they in of themselves did not cause the fracture. The repetitive stresses instigated from cyclic loading during normal engine operation was only contributors to the final failure. In our anaylsis the primary cause of the subject failure was a design and manufacturing defect that resulted from the use of the subject part with highly stressed square versus rounded surface junctures.

Results of the Investigation:
FMI investigators determined the failure of the water pump housing cover to be a design and manufacturing defect that presented during the vessel’s normal engine operation. The information we provided in our comprehensive report and full color photos enabled our client to take appropriate action to rectify their significant property loss.

Construction Defects Determination of Causation of Claimed Construction Defect

Construction defects

Background Information:
People often discover construction defects from cracks developing in their building. A residence in Texas had developed these substantial cracks. The homeowner claimed heavy rains caused the multiple cracks to walls, ceiling and foundation but the claims examiner needed concrete, technically accurate answers. They called upon FAEC to establish WHY these damages were occurring.

Assigned Task:
The assigned task was to perform an engineering investigation and evaluation on the numerous cracks throughout the dwelling. FAEC experts were asked to investigate the cause of the damages to the one-story Texas house.

Observations and Findings:
Based upon the research and information identified during our onsite investigation, our engineer was able to determine the following:

  1. Based on observations made during the site inspection, there was no evidence or expectation that heavy rains, flooding, or any specific event caused the reported damage to the foundation or to the porch.
  2. The cracks and separation observed to the porch and CMU (cinder or concrete) block perimeter was caused by differential settlement.
  3. The differential foundation movement at the subject property was attributed to inadequate embedment of the foundation supporting the structure. The supporting blocks violated the 2003 International Residential Building Code and other current building codes.

Results of the Investigation:
FAEC was able to determine the cause of the structural damage was a construction defect, and not the claimed weather causes. From FAEC’s detailed, comprehensive report and full-color pictures, the claims examiner was supplied with technically accurate and court defendable answers to their case.

Utility Failures Causation of Settlement Cracks in the Foundation Block and Broken Pipe

FAEC engineers can determine causation of utility failures

Background Information:
Indications of large structural failures often start off as insignificant, peculiar problems. Our homeowners reportedly noticed water bubbling up from a floor drain in the finished garage area. There was also a bouncy wooden floor in the family room area in the rear of the home and new horizontal cracks in the front corner bedroom walls. A plumber had been previously called to investigate the bubbling and found the cause of the floor flooding to be due to a plugged main sewage drain line. The homeowner believed that the structural damage to his floor and walls to be related to the plugged drain, but needed accurate, precise answers. The clients turned to FAEC to help establish WHY a structural failure was occurring in the home.

Assigned Task:
The assigned task was to examine the circumstances surrounding possible damages to the subject residence relating to the causation and timing of the failure of the home’s sewage drain line. We were asked to determine whether this cast-iron main line began to leak as a result of localized freezing or settlement or due to another instigating affect.

Observations and Findings: Based upon the information identified during the course of our onsite investigation, FAEC was able to determine the following:

  1. The subject piping failed due to age-induced deterioration and possibly the added stresses induced during some attempt to unblock a clogged drain or toilet in the past.
  2. The likelihood that any of the cast iron piping failed as a result of the direct freezing during this winter was extremely remote as the previous winter period is on record as being one of the most moderate periods of winter weather experienced in recorded history.
  3. Observed tree roots have been allowed to grow up to and under the home’s perimeter block wall foundation. The presence of these growing roots was shown to directly cause many of identified stress cracks in the home’s perimeter block wall.
  4. The cracks identified in the interior bedroom and dining room area of the home were the result of localized settlement of the corners of the home where the soil had been washed out over time from direct drainage of rain water via the downspouts into very localized areas of soil.

Results of the Investigation:
Forensic Analysis & Engineering Corporation was able to determine the cause of the structural damage, established WHY each of the damages occurred and that they were not attributed to the blocked drain pipe. From FAEC’s detailed, comprehensive report and full-color pictures, the client was able to correctly identify the source of the problems, received consultation regarding future repairs, and was able to remedy them without further incident.