Category: Engineering

EngineeringExpert WitnessInsuranceUncategorized

California Wildfires: Personal Analysis of Expert Information

Approximately two months after the horrific fires in Northern California (Santa Rosa, Napa, etc.,) we are witnessing catastrophic wildfires tearing through the Southern California landscape. Unlike the fires in October, I have not noticed any smoke or ash in the air this week. However, I am keeping a close eye on the fire activity in the Los Angeles area and have maintained communication with friends who are being impacted by the devastation.

Watching the news and reading the articles on this matter led me to read some articles, by fire experts, on our website. I wanted to pull together some information that might prove useful for those suffering immense loss and even displacement. Here is what I learned from Experts.com members:

Collect the Evidence – Document, Document, Document:

Once the fires are extinguished, you are going to be dealing with your insurance company. Your home, office, vehicles, and other property do not need to be engulfed in flames to suffer damage. Being in the region of a fire can cause costly soot damage to both real and personal property.

For example, let’s assume your home suffered some soot damage as a result of wildfires in your region. When your insurance adjuster comes to review the damage to your property, they are going to want to know if it was a common source of residential soot or the result of regional wildfires. Here are some common causes of residential soot as described in an article by Member EFI Global.

  • Smoking
  • Candles
  • Fire Places
  • Cooking
  • Heater malfunctions
  • Wildfires nearby
  • Interior fires (cooking, appliance etc.)

The article goes on to state, “localized soot over stoves, fire places, heater vents, and used candles is explainable to those sources and is generally not a covered loss.” This is why I believe it is important to document!

If you are noticing soot damage to your home as a result of the wildfires, you should begin taking your own photos and video to properly document areas of damage you have found since the fires began. You do not want your insurance adjuster to arrive, do their own investigation, note the areas above, and claim these are the result of the soot damage in your home. Make sure you have your own documentation of these areas and other areas damaged by soot.

The documentation should take place inside and outside the home. I have seen several pictures of fire retardant found on neighborhood streets, vehicles, and homes. If the fire retardant hit your property, make sure to document the exterior of the home for fire, smoke, and other damage related to extinguishing the fire.

If you can locate pictures from before the fire. Do it! Get some before and after photos assembled to help present the damage you see to your home.

Review Policy & Contact Insurance Provider:

Granted, most articles online will probably tell you to do this first. I am assuming you’re doing this at about the same time you are collecting your own evidence to provide to the adjuster.

Upon reporting the damage to your insurance company, you should inquire as to who may be able to assist with fire restoration in your region. Remember, if flames actually reached your home and water was used to extinguish the flames, you have to be cognizant of the potential for mold. This is why you want to find someone competent with fire restoration protocols. Your insurance should be able to guide you to finding the right provider.

Separate the Good from the Bad:

It is possible portions of your home remain undamaged. If this is the case, you’ll want to separate items that are damaged from those that are undamaged.

By separating the items you prevent further harm to the undamaged portions of your home. The separate section of damaged property will actually serve as your inventory for your insurance provider. It will help you to establish what was lost and what should be covered.

Take Care of Each Other:

Do not forget, fires are life altering events. We have experienced some catastrophic wildfires in California this year. The losses are felt throughout many neighborhoods. In preparing for this post, I found this article from the Napa Valley Register. It shares the story of a man who has lost a house in Santa Rosa, only to find out that his original home (turned rental) was destroyed in the Ventura fire this week.

If you can, reach out and help your neighbor. Help someone in your community. If you are insulated from the wildfires, maybe just write a blog post providing some information for those you know who have been impacted by the devastation.

Accident Investigation & ReconstructionChemicalEngineeringMaterials

Materials Engineering Expert Witnesses & Consultants

In the last century, advances in Materials Science have elevated almost every aspect of our lives. Consider some of the new and functional materials that make living so much safer and easier: chemicals, polymers, ceramics and alloys for use in medicine and medical implants, carbon fiber reinforced plastics for varied uses including to make stronger, lighter sports equipment, and metals and coatings for sturdier and safer construction. New Material Analysis and Engineering are responsible for novel technologies in many different fields encompassing civil, chemical, construction, nuclear, aeronautical, agricultural, mechanical, biomedical and electrical engineering. 

Materials Engineering Expert Witnesses and Consultants may be called upon for several purposes.  Their expertise includes Accident Reconstruction, Failure Analyses, Product Design, Product Development, Product Delivery, and Material Handling System to name a few.

Read Articles by Experts.com Materials Engineering Experts:

A Lawyer’s Guide to Hiring a Forensic Industrial Engineer
By: Gerald J. Hietpas, PR
Causey Engineering, LLC

Memos Of Invention – Attorneys and Corporate Inventors
By: Dr. Edward Funk, Ph.D.
EWF Consulting

Analysis Of An Impact Fractured, Welded Steeting Arm Spindle Assembly
By: Metallurgical Technologies, Inc.

Accident Investigation & ReconstructionBiomechanicsEngineeringExpert Witness

Biomechanics Expert Witnesses & Consultants

Biomechanics are defined as the scientific study of biological and especially muscular activity – as in locomotion or exercise.  Though this field of expertise is relatively new as it pertains to litigation, it is understandable why so many attorneys are turning to biomechanical engineers to support their cases. In Smelser v. Norfolk Southern Railway
Company, 105 F.3d 299, 305 (6th Cir. 1997),  it was noted that, “Biomechanics apply the principles in mechanics to the facts of a specific accident and provide information about the forces generated in the accident, explain how the body moves in response to those forces, and thus determine what type of injuries would result from the forces generated.”

Biomechanic experts are trained in Engineering as well as Human Anatomy.  This makes them particularly useful for determining causation  in personal injury and products liability cases.  For instance, in an article entitled, Experts in Mechanisms of Injury, Biomechanics Expert, Dr. Dennis Andrews, BSOSH, MSOSH, PhD, explains that seatbelt injuries must be described to the jury in two ways: (1) the mechanisms and forces causing the injury and (2) the injuries themselves (cuts, lacerations, bruises) in detail and their locations identified.

Considering the wealth of knowledge Biomechanics Experts can bring to an injury case, it is no wonder why the demand for their services has grown so drastically over the last decade.

See Biomechanical Engineering Expert Witnesses and Consultants on Experts.com.

Accident Investigation & ReconstructionElectro-Mechanical EngineeringEngineeringIndustrial AccidentOSHA

Steel Mill Electric Arc Furnace Accidents

Steel mill electric arc furnace manufacturers and employers must be required to properly train workers to ensure a safe working environment. The following Case Scenario is an example of how improper training can lead to egregious harm and even death.

Steel Mill Electric Arc Furnace

Case Scenario: Death On A Steel Mill Electric Arc Furnace

 

By: David Kobernuss, BSEE, MSEA, PE
Tel: (315) 336-2808

Expert’s Job Assignment

To assist with the case by the plaintiff widow against a third party industrial company and various contractors.

Case Synopsis

Maintenance work was being done on a three phase AC electric arcfurnace that was about 30 feet in diameter. It was shut down for some extensive repairs. There were many different crafts and contractors working on different aspects of the repairs and many of them were out of sight of others.

The deceased was welding on the support section of one of the three electrode arms that hold and carry current to the main electrodes that do the melting in the furnace. The clamping section had been removed so that he could get access to the damaged area that was to be repaired, and it was being held up about 10 feet above him by an overhead crane, by means of a chain assembly on the main crane hook. The removed clamping section was an assembly of aluminum and copper that weighed over two tons.

By means of a spurious electrical signal the control circuit for the furnace sent a signal to raise all three electrode arms. The stored energy in the hydraulic accumulators did just that: all three electrode support posts rose up to their full height. In doing so one of the other arms hit the suspended clamping section and dislodged it from the overhead crane. It fell and killed the welder below.

Expert analysis

  1. The control system for the furnace required that there be a large hydraulic accumulator for each phase electrode in order to be the source of a large volume of oil so as to move the electrodes faster that the hydraulic pumps could supply the oil. These were piped to the electrode cylinders through 4 inch diameter pipes.
  2. . . . Read Entire Article

David Kobernuss, BSEE, MSEA, is an Electro-Mechanical Engineering Expert who specializes in Industrial Accidents, Machine Performance, Electrical Accidents, Shock and Electrocutions.