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“Learn how to organizing your forensic engineers case file so that they will all be consistent.”

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.


Your forensic engineers case file is discoverable by the opposition. Be very careful what it includes. Keep written correspondence to a minimum. Your theory of the case may evolve and change over time as you uncover more information. The first two pages should be your Case Summary and Case Time and Charges.

On the Case Summary Sheet, add a narrative of the case: who, what, when, and where the incident (accident, failure, fire, explosion, error, etc.) occurred, including basic facts, events, injuries, sources, and weather, if pertinent. Update your ongoing summary of your investigation and possibly include proposed future actions and questions. Avoid unfounded accusations. As your forensic engineering practice grows, it may become harder to remember the status of each case. Also, priorities change and some cases go on hold for extended periods. If an attorney/client calls about his or her case and you don’t remember the details, say you are in conference and will return the call later. Find the case file, read the summary, and return his call. Prepare this record on your computer so that, as it is updated, there is no record of changes.

Each time that you work on a case, indicate the date and the start and stop times on the case Time and Charges Sheet. When you are interrupted by an unrelated activity, be sure to subtract that time from your sheet. At the end of each month, send a bill for your time. Include a summary of activity for the month, listing the day and the total time for the day rounded up to quarter- or half-hours. Do not break down the time for each task in your forensic engineering case file.

Litigation consulting is interesting, challenging, and profitable. If what is involved 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 to find out more.

Learn how to be a forensic engineer. Learn how to be a forensic expert witness. How to be an engineering expert witness. How to obtain training as a forensic engineer. How to obtain training as an engineering expert witness. Discover how important your forensic engineers case file is to your expert witness practice.