January 21, 2014 Articles

Traits to Dig for in an Engineering Expert

Aside from the technical must-haves, characteristics to look for include integrity, confidence, and communication skills.

By Gennaro G. Marino

An effective expert engineer is a person with a broad range of talents not usually associated with the personality, training, and experience of engineers. Finding an engineer who can translate the engineer's perspective to address the relevant issues in your litigation can be challenging.

Sound Engineering Opinions
The standard to which a court will hold an engineering expert is a "reasonable degree of engineering certainty." What does this mean? Some will argue this means you only have to be more certain than not in the conclusions you reach. In taking this position, a forensic engineer can be put in a precarious position if he or she is only slightly more certain. In this situation, a conclusion reached is much more susceptible to invalid assumptions made and to subsequent facts discovered about the case. In turn, an expert who performs a sound engineering investigation and analysis is much less vulnerable and can better withstand the test of cross-examination.

Caution should be exercised if the expert is willing to opine with little investigation. The engineer who is an overzealous advocate can be a liability as additional data become available.

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