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FORENSIC ENGINEERING Benefits vs Drawbacks

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FORENSIC ENGINEERING Benefits vs Drawbacks

“Should you consider adding Forensic Engineering & Expert Witness to your Consulting Engineering practice?

By John D. Gaskell, Retired Consulting Engineer

Author of “The Complete Guide to FORENSIC ENGINEERING

Forensic engineering is defined by the National Academy of Forensic Engineers (NAFE) as “the application of the art and science of engineering in matters which are in, or may possibly relate to, the jurisprudence system, inclusive of alternative dispute resolution.” These engineers serve as consultants to the legal profession and as expert witnesses in courts of law.

FORENSIC ENGINEERING Benefits vs Drawbacks

“Should you consider adding Forensic Engineering & Expert Witness to your Consulting Engineering practice?

Benefits

  • Interesting work – Each case is unique and distinctive so you get to learn and become an expert in many engineering specialties.
  • Low liability – In general your work does not involve designs or construction. Therefore you do not even have to carry Professional Liability insurance. You have only a responsibility to show-up an express your opinion.
  • High hourly rates – In general you can charge 11/2 to 2 times as much as your hourly rates as a Consulting Engineer with no limit on your hours.
  • Advanced payment via retainer – You can require a substantial up-front-payment that you bill against and your client attorney is expected to replace before you do additional work. Usually the initial retainer is non-refundable. As your reputation grows, you will find that some attorneys hire you, pay your retainer, and never use your services – just to keep their opposition from using you.
  • Little competition – Many engineers are too shy to testify in court and are afraid to be cross-examined. Especially if you are in a narrow specialty and garner an exceptional reputation, you will find that you are in high demand.

Drawbacks

  • Can be stressful – In my experience, most opposing attorneys are civilized. However, some of them can be nasty and abrupt in their cross-examinations. However, if you have been through with your investigation and have clearly thought out your opinions and conclusions and can justify each, cross-examination can actually be fun.
  • Sometimes requires travel – It is often inconvenient to be away from home and business for extended periods. However, unless you are traveling to unsafe parts of the world, it is usually not a big deal. I know of a forensic engineer who includes travel expenses for both he and his wife in his contracts.

Litigation consulting is interesting, challenging, and profitable. If these forensic engineering benefits vs drawbacks interests you, I recommend adding “Forensic Engineering” to your practice as a consulting engineer.

Get Jack’s new book: The “Complete Guide” to FORENSIC ENGINEERING to learn the details. Also, the largest chapter in his book: The “Complete Guide” to CONSULTING ENGINEERING covers the “highlights” of Forensic Engineering. Visit TheEngineersResource.com to find out more.

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