We recently heard from Forensic Engineer and Accident Reconstruction Expert, Kristopher Seluga of Technology Associates of Stamford, CT. He received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the Mechanical Engineering department at MIT. As a forensic engineer, he has investigated hundreds of accidents for both plaintiffs and defendants.
What is a forensic investigator and how long have you been involved in that line of work?
I have been a forensic engineer at Technology Associates LLC for the past twenty years. As a forensic engineer, I have investigated hundreds of accidents for both plaintiffs and defendants. My investigative and analytical experience includes motor vehicle accident reconstruction, biomechanics, product design and safety, and computer simulation and animation.
I apply established scientific and engineering knowledge and techniques to the investigation and analysis of matters that are subject to litigation, most often related to personal injury stemming from an accident.
What types of cases are you typically asked to investigate for accident attorneys regarding their injured clients?
Because my education and training is in the field of mechanical engineering, one of the broadest branches of engineering, I am able to opine on a wide variety of topics. Unlike the law, which varies from state to state, the laws of physics are universal and apply to all events, whether it’s a car crash, a fall from a height, or a forklift accident to name a few. While one of the most common types of accidents I am hired to investigate are motor vehicle crashes, a large portion of my assignments come from non-motor vehicle accidents involving things like heavy machinery, consumer products, construction sites, falls, and biomechanical analyses.
How do you go about conducting a personal injury investigation?
The first step in any investigation is to gather the available evidence by reviewing reports, photos, testimony, medical records, and any other pertinent documents. Most investigations also involve an inspection of the site or piece of equipment which may or may not involve testing. Following that, I determine what additional research, testing, mathematical analysis, or computer simulations are necessary to answer the questions posed by the hiring attorney. Finally, I report the results to the client, either verbally or in writing.
What are some of the things that you discover that can help aid an injured person to prove liability in their case?
Very often during the course of an investigation, we will uncover some important issues of which our client was previously unaware. This is because many accidents involve multiple causes that are not necessarily obvious to a non-engineer. For example, even a seemingly simple product such as a step stool may require specialized testing and analysis methods when one is attempting to determine the cause of a failure. In addition, an engineer may be able to confirm or disconfirm one party’s testimony through inspections, testing or analysis. In almost all cases, the most important task of the accident reconstructionist is to determine, in as much detail as possible, how and why an accident occurred. Everything else flows from that knowledge.
What is the single message that you would like to share with people about the importance of your role in personal injury investigations?
A forensic engineer can test the claims of various parties and provide valuable insights into accident causation, but only if they are provided with sufficient information to do so. If you think your case requires an engineering/accident reconstruction consultant, it is in your client’s interest to hire one early in the process, to consult with them during discovery, and to provide them with all relevant information in a timely manner. Sometimes information that may seem unimportant to a non-engineer can be critical to an analysis and involving the consultant early will increase the likelihood that they will have the information they need when the time comes to form their opinions. In addition, in the event that an engineering analysis is not favorable to your client’s position, it is better to know that sooner rather than later.
Pro Tip: Personal injury cases that involve significant injuries sometimes require the services of a forensic investigator who can help in the development of the liability of a variety of types of accident cases. Should you have any questions about your Connecticut accident case, please contact us.