Forensic Engineering

Forensic Engineering is a relatively new engineering discipline that has evolved from Reliability Engineering. It is the branch of engineering that studies the Physics of Failure.  A Forensic Engineer must have mastered the basic technical skills of engineering in addition to being knowledgeable in the codes and industry standards relating to construction, manufacturing and selling products. A Forensic Engineer must also be capable of defending his findings in court of law under the fierce scrutiny of cross-examination.

A Forensic Engineer is responsible for technically sound and unimpeachable answers to three basic questions: 

  1. What happened?
  2. Why did it happen?
  3. How could it have been prevented?

Reconstructing an accident is like solving a complex puzzle consisting of words, pictures, people and machines. It is an iterative process of getting facts, applying engineering principals, developing a theory, testing the theory and refining what you think you know until the theory is consistent with the facts. The reconstruction process is both an art and science--- Murphy's Laws apply the same as Newton's Laws.

Bass Associates Inc. has in business over 25 years and we have the experience to  reduce a complex technical problem to an explanation that can be understood by a layperson. We can also provide visual computer simulation to demonstrate equipment operation or to reconstruct accidents. Some of the areas that we have experience with are as follows:

Electrical Accidents & Hazards:

  • Electrical Injuries - Injury due to Electricity
  • Electrocution - Electrical Injuries at Line Voltage
  • Microshock Electrocution - Electrocution at very low voltages due to Medical Facilities & Equipment
  • Medical Equipment Safety - Patient injuries due to faulty equipment
  • Electrical Fires & Explosion - Arcing Ground Faults
  • Electrical Power - Electrical Hazards
  • Harmonics - Electrical Power Problem Causing Transformer & Neutral Wire Overheating
  • Stray Voltage  - Dairy and livestock operations.
  • Mechanical Accidents & Hazards:

  • Automobile Accident Reconstruction
  • Fire & Explosion Investigation
  • Industrial Accident Reconstruction
  • Medical Equipment Safety
  • Mechanical Engineering - Mechanical Hazards
  • Product Liability - Defective Products
  • Thermal Runaway - Equipment Overheating & Catastrophic Heat Build Up
  • Special Services:

  • Failure Analysis
  • Code Compliance
  • Discovery & Technical Investigation
  • Patent Infringement Analysis
  • The Forensic Engineering Analysis is a process that assembles all available information and physical evidence into a coherent explanation of What Happened, Why it Happened and What Could Have Been Done to Prevent it from Happening.  The process can be a highly structured study or a simple report, but the basic components are always the same.

    The first step for analyzing an accident or other incident related to failure is Reconstruction. The Forensic Engineer examines all available evidence, including eyewitness accounts, to determine the sequence of events and generate a time line leading to the incident.

    The next step is to develop a theoretical model of the system that can be used to explain exactly what went wrong. The theoretical model must include human factors as well as physical engineering considerations. System diagrams and schematics are very useful and sometimes computer simulations can be used to demonstrate the dynamics of the situation.

    Failed components are analyzed to determine exactly why they failed and the mode of failure. This is a very important aspect because a component can fail because of an internal defect or because it was overstressed due an external cause. This distinction is very important because it may be used to establish liability.

    John M. Bass is Registered as a Professional Engineer in both Electrical and Mechanical Engineering. John also has served as an Arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association. John has an extensive background in Design, Safety, Reliability and Failure Analysis. John's knowledge of Engineering Documentation Systems allows him to be effective uncovering evidence during discovery.  He has the experience to know what to look for and where to find it. He can reconstruct the technical evolution of a product from design through production. He knows how to follow the ECO trail to determine what a company knew about a problem, when they knew it and who the decision-makers were.

    For Help or more information, call John Bass at 952/544-5377.


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    Bass Associates Inc.
    13533 Larkin Drive, Minnetonka, MN 55305
    Phone: 952/544-

    Copyright 1998 Bass Associates Inc. Last modified: June 25, 2015