Expertly Speaking

Resident Hot Water Scalding – Property Maintenance and Product Compliance


Timothy Sass, MSCE, P.E., Consulting and Design Engineer

Case Description: When the subject West Philadelphia three-bedroom row home was originally constructed 80 years ago, it was built to house a single family. More recently however, the home’s bedrooms and basement began serving as living quarters for individual families. The 4 families living in the row home also share its only bathroom on the 2nd floor.

Mr. Stefan* is renting one of the rooms in the house. Recently the young father took his young son into the 2nd floor bathroom to give him a bath in the sink. As Mr. Stefan got his son situated in the sink, his son inadvertently kicked the hot water handle on the faucet. Almost instantly, scalding hot water coming from the faucet ran all over the baby’s body, causing him to suffer 1st and 2nd degree burns from his stomach down onto his legs.

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Wheelchair Tiedown and Occupant Restraint Systems


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

Case Synopsis: A residential facility contracted with a service to transport a patient, in her power wheelchair, to another facility for treatment. While enroute the transport van was struck by another vehicle, which reportedly failed to stop at a stop sign. After the crash, the patient being transported was found entrapped in the occupant belt with the shoulder portion across her neck and the wheelchair overturned. The patient died from blunt force trauma and neck fracture.

In addition to the residential facility, transport company and both drivers, the manufacturers of the van, wheelchair and wheelchair restraint system were also named defendants.

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May is Motorcycle Safety Month


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

As the warmer weather approaches, more and more motorcycles are hitting the streets. Coming out of the winter months, where you would rarely see a motorcycle in operation in the northern half of the country, automobile operators must retrain their brains to specifically “Watch for Motorcycles.” In particular, drivers should take an extra moment to scan the oncoming lane for motorcycles prior to executing a left turn. Intersections introduce the greatest potential for vehicular conflict, and not surprisingly, account for the overwhelming majority of motorcycle (and automobile) collisions.

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Infotainment Expert Witness

CNN Interviewed Dr. Justin P Schorr, Principal Reconstruction Engineer, Regarding the Information Your Vehicle Knows About You


Cars increasingly resemble a smartphone on wheels, storing personal information such as our location, how we drive, who we talk to and how to reach them. Some even hold a way to join our home WiFi network. If you’ve ever sold an old smartphone or laptop, you probably thought to wipe the hard drive first, to protect your privacy. When we sell a car, or return a rental car, a similar thought may not cross our minds, but cybersecurity experts say it should.

This month a security researcher described buying old Tesla infotainment systems online and finding personal information such as the home addresses and WiFi passwords of the previous owners. The news was first reported by InsideEvs. Searches of eBay reveal that infotainment systems from brands such as BMW, Ford, Cadillac and Mercedes-Benz are currently available for sale.

“This isn’t just a Tesla thing, it’s every single infotainment system,” said Justin Schorr, president of DJS Associates, a vehicle forensics firm that reconstructs crashes using on-board data. “Think of all the vehicles with screens, this is ubiquitous almost.”

Read the full article here.

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Infotainment Expert Witness

Who Damaged My Car? Ask the Infotainment System.


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

Although cars do not currently answer our questions in the same manner as Michael Knight’s vehicle, KITT, in the Knight Rider series, cars have been “speaking” to us through electronic data for over two decades. The data answers questions about the moments leading up to a collision, including how fast the vehicle was traveling or if an occupant’s seatbelt was buckled. Such information is extracted from, what is commonly referred to as, an Event Data Recorder (EDR). While EDR information can be helpful, the ever-increasing complexity of newer vehicles allows for an enhanced data set, providing insight to more than just the moments leading up to a collision. Modern vehicles contain over 70 computer systems, creating what seems to be a consistently expanding flow of data. Given the vast collection of computers exchanging data in the vehicle network, it should come as no surprise that some of the components, such as the infotainment and telematic systems, retain a wealth of data.

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Indoor Pool

Hotel Pool Parties Present a Problem


Tom Griffiths, Ed.D., Aquatic Safety Expert

Recently, a rash of lawsuits have been filed against hotels because of drownings occurring to paying and non-paying guests.

Most of these lawsuits claimed that a major cause of the incident drownings were related to swimming pool parties. Statistically speaking, more than half of all drownings in the United States occur when a group of patrons visit an aquatic facility. These swimming groups are typically comprised of birthday parties, family reunions, Fourth of July parties, and the like. Hotel swimming pools tend to be significantly smaller than municipal pools, YMCA pools, school pools, etc. Additionally, the vast majority of hotel pools are “Swim at Your Own Risk, NO LIFEGUARD ON DUTY.” Parties at hotel pools quickly inundate these small vessels with too many people. This creates hazardous situations that can quickly turn deadly; therefore, hotel pools should ban swimming pool parties, unless the hotel provides a lifeguard and creates a pool party policy that is enforceable.

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