Why use an expert witness?
An expert provides a reliable opinion on a scientific or technical problem. Their testimony will let you know what really happened, and can justify to a jury that their opinion is based on rigorous scientific reasoning.
We will provide an expert with the correct degrees and experience to support your case. Some complex cases may require a combination of experts to do the job.
When should an expert get involved?
Timing is very important. Call before some well-intended opposition person or government agency attempts to “save the evidence” by picking up and removing some vital part. Delays can cost more than just money, they can jeopardize the outcome of the case.
Case In Point: An electric fence had injured a person. Unfortunately, the attorney had picked up all the transformers and electric components for safe keeping. Evidence of the physical arrangement of the electrical connections, which may have led to a different result in court, was lost.
One of the most important points in the process of handling a claim is the proper gathering of information. Most cases involve police or fire department people at the scene who have picked up material or caused evidence to be stored in some form. We need to see any drawings done or evidence collected by other agencies or experts.
Case In Point: We were asked by the opposition to produce parts from a truck accident for further testing. We had investigated the accident 4 years previously and stored the parts in a bonded warehouse. The attorney was not aware that the insurance company had been paying storage charges all that time. Garrett Engineers was able to find the original warehouse receipt and the parts, avoiding a contempt citation or worse.
Tests, laboratories & testing
Performing tests in accordance with accepted scientific standards may very well settle a claim favorably or win a case. It may often be necessary to actually reproduce the accident in a laboratory to find out the complete story. Our experience ranges from biological testing to reproducing car and bus accidents, not to mention fire experiments and wind tunnel tests. We maintain relationships with a large number of scientific testing laboratories due to the quantity and varied workload that comes before us.
Case In Point: There had been unexplained fires every 60 to 90 days in a 20 story apartment building containing 180 senior citizens. Garrett Engineers, Inc. investigated known arsonists, disgruntled employees, and structural and mechanical deficiencies. We were able to trace the origin of the fires to the small efficiency kitchen in each apartment. We built a mockup kitchen in the laboratory from the architect’s plans, and placed it in operation. Once the inevitable fire started, we were able to determine that due to a design error, an electrical connection was allowed to lie in the drip pan. When the connection got wet, it caused arcing, which started the fires. This evidence led to a rather large award against the manufacturer of the refrigerators.
What happens if the case goes to court?
Once the facts are made clear, most cases are settled out of court. In the rare cases when cases do go to trial, we provide you with high quality experts and supporting materials. Experts are prepared to deal with opposing lawyers trying to discredit their testimony. High-quality exhibits, such as photographic blowups, models, videotapes, graphic displays, illustrations, and material samples help to support their credibility.
Case In Point: An actress claimed that a hollow core door of a television studio slammed shut, striking her head and causing brain damage. The insurance company didn’t believe the forces were great enough to cause that kind of injury. The problem was how to demonstrate to a jury that the forces involved were very small. We set up a similar door in court, created a modest wind using fans, and let the door shut on an egg, which remained unbroken. The jury concluded that the individual may have suffered brain damage, but from other causes.
Reducing claim costs
The most common outcome of an investigation is arrival at a settlement. While our assignment may be first and foremost to find out “what really happened?” this frequently leads to “how much will it cost to repair?” With the ultimate goal of reducing costs, the second question may be just as important as the first.
Case In Point: A $2.1 million large electronic scoreboard was damaged during installation. Within 48 hours of the accident, a team of three Garrett experts was on a plane en route to the site: an electronics engineer, a structural engineer, and an investigator. They determined that the cause of the damage was due to crane operator error. Furthermore, they determined that the scoreboard did not need to be replaced because it was repairable within the price range of $400,000 (saving the insurance company $1.7 million).