What is an Engineering Expert Witness?

Erin Oxendine

An engineering expert witness is a professional engineer who specializes in providing an expert opinion to clients. This person often has clients ranging from law firms to insurance companies. Most experts take on a neutral role when it comes to clients and can work for plaintiffs or defendants.

An engineering expert witness might specialize in testifying about the technologies that may be relevant to a railroad accident.
An engineering expert witness might specialize in testifying about the technologies that may be relevant to a railroad accident.

Some of the incidents that an engineering expert witness investigates for clients include train and automotive engineering defects as well as construction equipment accidents. The engineer may also get requests to review workplace accidents and industrial machinery injuries. One common accident that insurance companies retain these experts for is to figure out liability in slip and fall injuries involving sidewalks, stairs and escalators.

An engineering expert witness might be used to help figure out liability in an escaltor accident.
An engineering expert witness might be used to help figure out liability in an escaltor accident.

When the engineer expert witness meets with a client, the expert will review the facts of the case and any documentation that may be available. The expert will discuss the incident with the client and tell the client his initial opinion and strategy. At this meeting, the expert will also provide a list of his fees and services that he has available to investigate the case.

Engineers who observe the construction of a tunnel or bridge may later be called as a witness if an accident occurs in that area.
Engineers who observe the construction of a tunnel or bridge may later be called as a witness if an accident occurs in that area.

Services that an engineering expert witness can provide include determining the cause of an accident and providing a failure analysis report. Other options that an engineer expert has include creating engineering models and preparing simulations of accidents such as train or vehicle accidents. Sometimes a case may involve a dispute over a warranty on a defective product so the engineer will take a video testing the product and highlight any problems that may occur. Engineers also go to warehouses to inspect buildings, check the building codes and photograph industrial hazards.

Engineering expert witnesses give testimony in court.
Engineering expert witnesses give testimony in court.

An engineering expert witness often gives expert testimony in a court of law. Most experts are willing to testify in court about their findings and assist in trial preparation. The expert will have to submit exhibits such as photographs, videos and written reports. There are different roles the engineer could play in litigation such as expert witness, expert consultant and third-party engineer.

Most engineers who provide expert services have an engineering degree as well as a professional engineering license. Engineering experts also have years of experience investigating mechanical and electrical accidents. As a requirement for working in this position, an engineering expert witness should be able to conduct studies as well as analyze structural and mechanical systems. This person should also have are the ability to troubleshoot problems, analyze evidence and come to logical conclusions as well as perform research.

Experts who work in manufacturing facilities may be called as engineering expert witnesses in cases about industrial accidents.
Experts who work in manufacturing facilities may be called as engineering expert witnesses in cases about industrial accidents.

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