When most people hear the word “forensics,” they think of crime scene investigators trying to piece together evidence to solve a crime. While that is a true assumption in most cases, there are other types of forensics as well. Forensic engineers deal with investigating why a particular building or structure failed. The main goal of all forensic analysts is to get to the bottom of a particular issue, but they go about their jobs in different ways and shouldn’t be confused with one another.
Crime Lab Analysts vs. Forensic Engineers
A crime lab analyst may be directly involved in a legal proceeding in order to convict someone of a crime. A forensic engineer, however, is tasked with reconstructing a situation in which a structure failed, so evidence can be provided in a potential court proceeding. Both types of forensics are aided by expert witness services and other factors to help come to a conclusion.
Differences in Responsibilities
When it comes to building failures, many times an engineering expert witness is required to determine who is at fault for the failure that caused damage or injury. For crime lab analysts, a forensic expert witness may be used to provide a testimony as to what they saw that could have led to the potential crime happening. Crime lab analysts also may not even be involved directly in investigating the crimes. Instead, they just analyze the data and information given to them by the investigators in order to come up with conclusions.
Forensic engineers, on the other hand, are directly involved in the details. They provide their expert witness services to help put together the story of how a building failure occurred. In other words, they find the details themselves in order to determine how or why a structural failure happened and who is at fault.
Work Environments and Employers
Forensic engineers typically visit the scene of an accident personally to try to recreate exactly what happened. Many times these people are independent consultants, but can also be employed by law enforcement agencies. Crime lab analysts work primarily for law enforcement agencies and rarely visit the scene of a crime.
At BE Structural, our forensic engineers are out at the scene of an accident and are experienced in providing expert witness services in order to re-create a story exactly as it occurred. If you’re ever in need of forensic expert witness services to help with your building failure case, be sure to contact us.