Floaties, such as water wings, floatation suits, noodles, and inflatable rafts or tubes are not advised for use with children if they cannot swim. Foam and inflatables are typically associated with floating; however, many can deflate, or fall off, leading a child on the surface to sink down. U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) approved life jackets are the recommended approach for children that cannot swim. To read more about how the variations in vests can be life or death, follow the link to the Aquatic Safety Newsletter, written by Tom Griffiths, Ed.D., Aquatic Safety Expert with DJS Associates Inc., reachable by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone at 215-659-2010.
Laurence R. Penn, Senior Forensic Animation/Video Specialist ::::
An old residential lamp post, weakened by a recent storm, fell unexpectedly and damaged two vehicles parked below. The owner of one of the vehicles claimed to have sustained injuries from the falling lamp post while entering her vehicle. The actual lamp-head was the part identified as the culprit for the injury.
However, the vehicles’ orientation and proximity to the post made the story difficult to comprehend. Three scene photos were camera-matched using photogrammetry, and as part of the process, the approximate position of the fallen post and lamp-head were calculated. The results were imported into 3D software and the arc of the falling lamp post was established.
When viewed from multiple angles, the reconstructed scene showed that the plaintiff was likely not in a position to be injured by the lamp-head, as described in the testimony.
Laurence R. Penn, Senior Forensic Animation/Video Specialist at DJS Associates, can be reached via email at experts@forensicDJS.com or via phone at 215-659-2010.
R. Scott King, BSME, Principal Automotive / Mechanical Engineer ::::
A commercial tractor-trailer sustained severe fire damage during an overnight stay in a parking area of a heavily traveled interstate. No one was in the truck at the time of the fire; however, security surveillance cameras recorded the event and the video became an important element of the ensuing investigation.
A preliminary engineering review included a study of the truck’s recent maintenance and repair records, as well as an interview with the truck owner. This identified two areas on the truck that warranted a detailed visual examination. It also identified potentially relevant parties for the subsequent, joint-expert examination. Specifically, the truck owner produced service records reflecting battery and starter repairs performed one month before the loss. He also reported that after those repairs, he had trouble starting the truck, along with other electrical problems. He returned to the shop that performed the repairs; however, those complaints went unremedied.
Robert J. Nobilini, Ph.D., Biomechanical Engineer ::::
Case Synopsis: Plaintiff testified that she was in the process of descending a flight of stairs, one step at a time. She had stepped down onto the first tread with both feet and was stepping down onto the second tread with her right foot when her foot went out in front of her. The heel of her foot barely contacted the front edge of the second tread, and she fell backwards down the rest of the stairs.
Expert Analysis: Plaintiff’s expert opined that the stair treads were shorter than what was required by present code and that there were inconsistencies in the tread and riser dimensions. He concluded that the plaintiff’s fall was due to these issues.
Plaintiff’s medical records revealed that 16 years prior to her fall she was diagnosed with avascular necrosis of the left hip due to osteoporosis and underwent a hip replacement. Since her hip replacement, she descended stairs one step at a time. Four months prior to her fall, she underwent a revision of her left hip.
Biomechanical research has shown that descending stairs too slowly lengthens the time a person has to support their weight on one leg and increases the risk of a fall. Plaintiff’s testimony that her right leg went out in front of her and that she barely contacted the front edge of the second tread was consistent with the plaintiff’s left leg giving way due to her prior left hip issues. As a result, her center of mass began falling backwards causing her right foot to move forward of the second tread.
James J. Shields, P.E., Mechanical Engineer ::::
Case Synopsis – A housing development company began a large multi-dwelling housing construction project at a site in Southeastern Pennsylvania. The development company hired a General Contractor to design and construct the site along with the erection of hundreds of homes. The project was planned by the development company to require several years for completion. As a first step in the process, the General Contractor obtained a building permit and produced a set of overall design drawings for the entire site, along with a set of design details for home construction. As is commonly the case, the General Contractor was responsible for the hiring of all sub-contractors. In addition, before commencing the work, all sub-contractors were required to sign a construction agreement with the General Contractor.
Approximately one year after the housing project had begun and certain housing sections had been completed, the housing developer and a prospective homeowner entered into an Agreement of Sale. The homeowner moved into the home about six months after signing the Agreement and lived in the home uneventfully for close to nine years. However, at that time, a severe water leak emerged from behind the drywall in the second-floor master bedroom. The water deluge from the leak was so great that it flowed through the wall, flooding the second story floor and pouring down two floors to the basement before the source of the water leak could be located and isolated. A vertical section of drywall was removed to expose the source of the water, which appeared to be originating from the sprinkler piping, although the exact location of the leak was still unknown. When the sprinkler system valves were shuttered the leak stopped, although, by then the volume of water released had created significant damage. The water was being supplied from the Township Water System, and the shutoff valves were able to isolate the home sprinkler system from the water supply.
Robert T. Lynch, PE, Principal Collision Reconstruction Engineer ::::
All model year 2013 and newer vehicles equipped with an event data recorder (EDR) that are sold in the United States need to adhere to the requirements set forth in 49 CFR Part 563 of the federal standards.
Part 563 establishes minimum requirements for an EDR. In particular, an EDR must record an event if the vehicle experiences a Delta-V (change in velocity) above 5 mph from any direction: front, rear or side. When a vehicle sees a Delta-V greater than 5 mph, the EDR will record 5 seconds of pre-crash speed, braking, and acceleration data, as well as severity data for the impact itself.