What Do Explosives Expert Witnesses Do?

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An explosives expert witness is a professional who has a background in how many different types of materials behave. They understand products that are designed for demolition, excavation, industry, and even warfare. Their opinions can be useful in a wide range of situations so keep reading to find out what some of those are and why an expert might go about their job.

Anything That Goes Boom

An expert can provide advice about incidents involving firearms, hydraulics, heat transfer system, mining equipment, and even appliances. They can examine whether the result of an explosion is indicative of criminal conduct, civil negligence or recklessness, unsafe conditions, engineering failures, or simple randomness. They can also provide a degree of certainty regarding the conclusions.

Criminal and Civil Cases

Criminal allegations involving explosives can be especially hard to fight, and that makes explosives expert witness testimony invaluable. Federal agencies such as the FBI and the ATF often loan their in-house experts out to state and local prosecutors. With the gravity of those agencies behind them, they're difficult witnesses to defeat. That makes it critical to bring someone of similar gravity into court.

There are civil proceedings where an explosive expert witness can be valuable, too. Injury and wrongful death cases sometimes arise from the use of explosives at locations. An expert can weigh in on whether an incident was predictable and what precautions, if any, should have been taken. This allows an attorney to establish what counts as reasonable safety measures for the profession.

Insurance Costs and Liability

Insuring operations that use explosives, as you might imagine, can be expensive. A witness can identify what measures need to be taken for an operation to be insurable and what an insurance carrier's risk exposure might be.

Liability in insurance claims also may involve explosives that were present during incidents. The questions answered in these situations are similar to the ones that come up in civil cases.

Examine the Work of Other Experts

As previously mentioned, it can be challenging to refute the work of experts in this field. An expert witness can be asked to examine reports, videos, and other forms of testimony and evidence to provide some perspective. It's far from guaranteed they'll provide a refutation of another expert's work, but even a confirmation is still a useful data point. Likewise, it can be helpful to have an expert read through a report and explain it to you in plain English.

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