Expertly Speaking

Slip and Fall Expert Witness

Double Counting: Help Me! Help Me Again!


Irina Balashova, CPA, CIA, CFE, Forensic Accountant Consultant ::::

When assessing economic losses, be aware of potential double counting of damages utilizing different categories of loss.

Case Synopsis: A mechanic was involved in a slip-and-fall accident, injuring his back, which resulted in a partial paralysis. Plaintiff now requires assistance with most activities of daily living. Claims were made for future medical costs and for loss of household services (“HHS”).

Expert Analysis: The plaintiff’s future medical costs claim was detailed in a life care plan, which included assistance with activities of daily living, such as personal care activities, as well as HHS that plaintiff was unable to perform post-injury, such as cooking, cleaning, transportation and shopping. The annual loss amount in this category totaled approximately $50,000. The claim for lost HHS also included a variety of general domestic chores that could be performed by repair workers, maids, landscapers, cooks, and laundry workers. The annual loss amount in this category totaled approximately $8,000. Based upon the descriptions of services provided, it was apparent the plaintiff’s claimed loss of HHS included many of the same services included in the life care plan, as a subset of the activities of daily living.

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Gas station at night

Traffic Signal Pole and Cable Maintenance


Timothy O’Brien, PE, Traffic Engineering Consultant ::::

Case Synopsis: It was reported that a tractor trailer truck driven by the defendant pulled into the driveway entrance of an Open-All-Night gas station. As he pulled into the gas station, the tractor trailer impacted a low hanging traffic signal interconnection cable (cable). The force exerted on the cable caused it to pull down a light pole, a small tree and the metal traffic signal pole and mast arm. According to the gas station video tape, the plaintiff was the third vehicle traveling behind the defendant. The plaintiff was unable to avoid colliding with the collapsed metal traffic signal pole and suffered injuries.

Plaintiff sued defendant, the electric company, the township and the township’s signal maintenance contractor. The plaintiff claimed the defendant (truck driver) did not safely operate his truck thereby causing the accident that injured the defendant, and that the electric company failed to maintain the pole that supported the impacted wire. Lastly, the plaintiff claimed the township and signal maintenance contractor, failed to properly maintain the cable.

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event-data-recorder-crash-data

Two Events, One Data Recorder


R. Scott King, BSME, Principal Automotive / Mechanical Engineer ::::

While standing at their property edge, waiting for a school bus, a father and son were seriously injured when they were struck by a passing vehicle that had crossed the opposing travel lane and departed the roadway. The vehicle traveled a short distance after the initial incident and came to a controlled stop in the roadway. Then, after a brief delay, the vehicle accelerated, traveled a short distance, and struck a tree. After the incident, witnesses reported the operator of the impacting vehicle was using her cell phone and appeared confused.

The vehicle operator reported no recollection of the incident and police investigators found nothing to indicate a mechanical malfunction. This conclusion was confirmed by an independent forensic examination, which included downloading data from the vehicle’s Event Data Recorder (EDR). The information from the EDR included five seconds of pre-crash data, as well as a crash-pulse record quantifying the crash severity. This particular EDR could record data associated with only one event. In this case, there were two events: the initial impact with the father and son, and the second with the tree.

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Nighttime Headlights

Let There Be Light


Now that the days are getting shorter and apparently rainier, motorists need to be reminded about the need to switch from daytime running lights (DRL’s) to regular headlights when encountering dark and/or inclement conditions. Daytime running lights (DRLs) are low-intensity headlights that are lit whenever a vehicle is running (Headlight Topics- IIHS.org). Though DRL’s provide many benefits such as making it easier to see a car faster than a car without their DRL’s activated thus providing a driver with a few more seconds of perception time to react to a hazard, they do not provide the benefit of your vehicle taillights being illuminated (Daytime Running Lights- Some Things you Should Know- baautocare.com).

Although State requirements about headlight use vary in exact wording, i.e.- headlights must be used from sunset to sunrise, when visibility is less than 500 feet or 1000 feet in some cases, now in many States headlights must also be turned on when windshield wipers are in use (AAA Digest of Motor Laws). Because DRLs provide a degree of forward lighting, many motorists fail to turn on their standard lights in low-light, low-visibility situations. This means the rear lights of certain vehicles are not illuminated (National Motorist Association). In these dark and/or adverse condition scenarios, the taillights of your vehicle are typically not illuminated unless the headlight switch is activated (No Back Lights at Night? Blame Daytime Running Lights-advanceddrivers.com).

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H1-H4V

Help Me H1-H4V, You Are My Only Hope


Laurence R. Penn, 3D Animations/Technical Assistant ::::

Just like in Star Wars, you will soon be able to see a 3D holographic Leia and even hold her in your hand. Well, not quite. Leia is actually the technology embedded in the new smartphone already released to preorders and soon to be released to consumers in November. The smartphone is called the Hydrogen One (H1), built by Red Cinema who are known for their high-quality digital cinematography cameras; many of the latest movies or TV shows you have seen are likely filmed on Red cameras. What’s unique about this camera is the Diffractive Lightfield Backlighting (DLB) which turns a 2D display into an immersive 3D experience. I have yet to experience one in person but imagine the phone being like a window, revealing a deep world inside of it. The phone will also be modular, allowing it to be combined with other Red Cinema components such as lens adapters (think Nikon, Canon) and other camera bodies (an 8K 3D camera is in the works!) . It won’t just be photos and videos that are displayed in 3D with the new H4V file-type, but Apps will also utilize the technology for a completely new way to interact with games, social media and our digital universe. I for one am very excited about this game-changing device, considering I still have my old but trusty iPhone 5 (6 years, really!?!) and can’t wait to test it out with some of the 3D content we generate here at DJS.

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watercraft-event-data-recorder

Side-by-Side (SSV) & Watercraft Electronic Event Data


Robert S. Kinder, Jr., MS, Mechanical Engineer ::::

Over time the number of electronic devices and features in motorized vehicles has generally increased, some of which can record diagnostic or personal information. Most automobiles manufactured today are equipped with (EDR) capable of storing retrievable data including vehicle speed, braking, and other parameters. More recently, cars are not the only vehicles storing data. Newer Side-by-Side (SSV) off-road vehicles and watercrafts have Engine Control Modules (ECM). These electronic devices are responsible for keeping the engine running smoothly. To complete that task, the devices monitor data from various sensors and systems. When a problem is identified, the ECM can log diagnostic fault codes. In addition to fault codes, some ECMs can record up to 60 seconds of data including vehicle speeds. Using diagnostic tools, ECM data can be retrieved to provide insight as to how fast a watercraft or SSV was traveling during the last approximate one minute of usage or its past and current diagnostic condition.

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