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construction code expert witness

Setting Boundaries: Construction Work Zone

Lt. Col. Bryan Smith, P.E., Construction Site Safety Consultant

Case Summary: A dump truck, which exited a construction zone after delivering a load of asphalt paving material, struck and killed a pedestrian. The construction firm that performed the parking lot repairs hired an expert to evaluate the incident location and determine if it was within a work zone and if so, whether certain motor vehicle/pedestrian precautions were necessary and/or enacted by the construction firm.

Expert Analysis: An evaluation of the incident location was made using Google Earth satellite photos. The Google Earth photos documented what work had been performed at the time of the incident, about one year and nine months earlier from the engagement of an expert.

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Trucking and Transportation Expert

Pennsylvania State Law: Stopped Emergency Vehicles – Move Over or Slow Your Roll

Timothy P. Reilly, P.E., Civil Engineer

Most motorists will have seen these signs on Pennsylvania roads and are familiar with their duty to move into an adjacent lane to give more room to emergency vehicles stopped on the side of the road. This helps to protect emergency service responders in a vulnerable position along an active highway and reduces the risk for subsequent collisions with emergency vehicles or the vehicles to which they are responding. As noted in the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code, Emergency Service Responders include police officers; firefighters; EMS and ambulance personnel; towing and recovery workers; and highway maintenance and construction personnel.

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If A Red-Light Camera Falls on a Car and No One Sees It, Who is at Fault?

John R. Yannaccone, P.E., Senior Mechanical Engineer

Case Synopsis: Early one morning, a motorist was traveling in the right lane of a roadway equipped with red-light cameras. As he approached an intersection, a pole supporting a red-light camera fell over and struck the hood of his vehicle. The impact caused moderate damage to the hood of the vehicle, and the driver sustained injuries as a result of the incident. It was believed the camera pole fell due to prior damage which had weakened it. The motorist retained counsel and pursued a claim against the driver’s under/uninsured motorist policy which would only be required to pay if the incident was caused by another motor vehicle. The insurance carrier denied the claim as they believed there was no evidence to support that the camera pole fell as the result of prior contact by an unknown vehicle.

Expert Analysis: By the time the plaintiff had retained an attorney, the fallen pole had been replaced and the damaged components had been discarded. Though a physical inspection was not possible, photographs retrieved from other red-light cameras at the intersection, as well as the records from the subject pole, were reviewed for analysis.

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OSHA Multi Employer

Walter M. Wysowaty, PE, CME, Civil Engineering Consultant

Case Facts: The plaintiff was employed by an environmental consultant who was responsible for work related to the removal of underground storage tanks (UST), including the collection of soil to be tested for contamination. A contractor qualified for excavations associated with UST’s performed soil excavation to remove the tank to a depth of somewhere between 7 and 10 feet. The resultant soil wall was generally vertical with some undermining that existed after removal of the tank. Shoring at the excavation was not installed. The plaintiff testified that he did not feel that excavation was safe, yet approached the top elevation of the excavation to collect various data. While standing at the top elevation, the soil wall failed resulting in injuries to the plaintiff. The plaintiff had received OSHA training prior to the subject incident.

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Training Wheels

John D. Schubert, Bicycle Expert

Case Synopsis: A middle-aged woman seeking to improve her cycling from casual riding to triathlon competitions went to a bike shop to purchase a suitable bike along with cycling shoes and a pedal binding system favored by competitors. While being fitted to the pedal binding system, seated on a bike located on a trainer stand, she fell and sustained substantial injuries.

Expert Analysis: Every cyclist who utilizes a pedal binding system faces an initial period of getting accustomed to having his or her shoes secured to the pedals. The cyclist must learn the motion (moving the heel to the outside) that disengages the shoe from the pedal. The cyclist must make this motion instinctive, and not feel afraid of the system.

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3 Vehicle In-Line Collision: Who Hit Whom?

Robert T. Lynch, P.E., Principal Collision Reconstruction Engineer

Whether it’s the result of sudden slowing of traffic on a limited access highway or the vehicles queued up at a red light, multiple vehicle in-line collisions are a common occurrence. In-line collisions are among the easiest to reconstruct for severity, but the question of who hit who, or more precisely the order of impact(s), is not as easy to establish, and is sometimes indeterminable.

For example, say vehicle 1 (V1) is behind vehicle 2 (V2) who is behind vehicle 3 (V3). It is often quite clear from the vehicle damage that the front of V1 hit the back of V2, and the front of V2 hit the back of V3; however, the driver of V1 often claims that V2 hit V3 before V1 hit V2, whereas the driver of V2 claims that they were struck in the rear by V1, resulting in V2 then being pushed into the rear of V3.

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