Steven Roberts, AMS Certified Consulting Meteorologist, Weather Expert
When an attorney acquires a weather-related case like a slip and fall, motor vehicle accident, or wind damage, weather experts are essential for developing a well-balanced strategy. Qualified weather experts have the knowledge and experience to reconstruct weather conditions and provide opinions for a specific location. However, sometimes the most accurate and complete weather analysis can be challenged when case materials are reviewed. Testimony transcripts or photographs may reveal circumstances that hadn’t been considered when the weather expert prepared their initial report. An experienced weather expert understands this. They will state that they reserve the right to amend their report conclusions if new information is later presented. Below are a couple of situations where new information would require an expert to amend their initial weather-related conclusions.
Upon reviewing case documents, a weather expert may discover that there are photographs that were taken shortly after a slip and fall that show man-made snow piles were present. Meanwhile, all of the official weather data may support that there was no natural snow cover in undisturbed areas. If the expert now knows man-made snow piles existed, that opens up the possibility for new ice formation from melting and refreezing. That would have otherwise been deemed an impossibility based on the weather data alone.
In a motor vehicle accident case, a weather expert may conclude that although heavy rain fell the day prior, exposed level outdoor surfaces had completely dried by the time of the accident. The expert may then review testimony that there was standing water in a poor drainage area where the accident occurred. This would cause the weather expert to amend their conclusions. They may state that this standing water is consistent with the prior day’s rain event.
It is also wise for an attorney to consult with a weather expert early on in a weather-related case. At this early stage, there may not be much for an attorney to provide to their weather expert; however, they should provide all documents that outline the case details at this early juncture. This would include items such as the Bill of Particulars and Notice of Claim. It can also be important to discuss the case facts with the expert prior to having them write a report.
Providing a weather expert with all available case materials is the most effective way to avoid surprises down the line. This assures that the weather expert cannot be challenged or ultimately forced to change their opinions at a later stage.
Upcoming Webinar – “Take Your Case by Storm with Forensic Weather Experts”
Join us on Tuesday, June 13th, 2023 from 12:00-1:00 pm (EST) for a Complimentary CLE webinar (PA + NJ). To register, please contact Emily Hopf, Marketing Coordinator, at ERH@forensicDJS.com.
What do property damage, slip and falls, and motor vehicle accidents have in common? Answer: Weather could be a factor in causing these incidents. Forensic weather consultants and meteorologists have been, and continue to be, an invaluable tool utilized by legal, insurance, and engineering professionals. While some cases may have obvious cause for calling in the experts, such as a fall on black ice, other cases may not be as apparent. This seminar will overview cases where forensic weather investigations should be employed, the benefits of using a weather expert, and how to select a qualified expert for your case.Categories: Forensic Meteorology | Weather Conditions | Weather Expert