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How Does an Architectural Expert Witness Find a Building Defective?

When there is a possible case where a building has been erected with defective areas or designs, it may be necessary to hire an architectural expert witness to assist with the proceedings.

These professional individuals may explain the situation in such a manner that the case is successful in many instances. Construction cases typically require the aid of an expert so that liability may be determined and damages awarded to the appropriate party. This means a qualified expert witness is frequently a necessity in communicated with the lawyers present and translating technical details and information to the judge and jury.

Expert witnesses for architectural issues usually have experience with hundreds of contracted edifices and years of background in the field. They are often able to understand and explain complex processes of construction, buildings, designs and relevant details about these procedures. When the technical aspects are too complicated for the average person, they have the capability of translating the language into simple concepts
that are understood. This usually impresses a jury or judge and creates an atmosphere of relating to the subject matter. When the case is complicated or has many aspects that necessitate the use of an expert witness, these individuals should be hired to strengthen the case for the lawyer.

How to Qualify an Expert Architectural Witness

Several cases have failed because there was no thought to use an expert witness, or the counsel determined that one was not necessary for a successful outcome. However, it is often important to hire these professionals to assist in the overall strategy and obtain additional resources in overcoming complications in the suit. When qualifying an expert witness, it should be considered that he or she may aid in developing the examination of evidence, determining what is necessary and helping everyone involved in understanding and comprehending the technical aspects and details of materials, codes and regulations, standards set in place, best and worst practices, how tests are completed, the investigation and many other relevant issues.

The process of finding the right expert is often undervalued. There are several reasons for this. It could simply be a question of time or cost constraints. In some cases, it may even be the belief that the expert is not that important to counsel's overall strategy. I would posit that good experts, while never serving as an advocate, can serve as a critical part of the team from beginning to end. The expert can be an educator to help counsel develop the investigation and determine what is needed - e.g. documents to list in discovery requests, witnesses to depose, or data to be developed - and assist counsel in understanding various technical issues concerning, for example, design, materials, codes, standards, practices, testing protocols, investigation, and a whole host of other issues.

The Objectivity of the Expert

While the lawyer has hired the expert witness to assist in the case for a client, he or she has to remain objective overall. This maintains his or her credibility and assists in removing the expert from becoming attached to either side. Being honest in the proceedings also impresses upon the judge or jury that what is spoken is fact, expert testimony of a professional and the job of the hired person. Certain questions framed to undermine the credibility and reputation of the expert may be issued by opposing counsel. When answers are honest, objective and detached from opinion, no set of questions should disturb the case for either party involved. This means the details provided are informative and assist the jury or judge in determining the case based on what and how instead of who.

Experience and Education

For expert witnesses in architectural fields, they usually have several years of field specific expertise. They have gone through degrees in related and similar areas of studies to construction and engineering. While some individuals only have the experience of hands-on training and experiences, others have gone to universities that provide the degree that explains both theory and practical situations. Depending upon the case the lawyer has, different architectural expert witnesses are needed. Some specific subjects require someone with a very narrow field of study. Other cases demand a professional with a broad range of understanding in construction and design.

Hiring an Expert Architectural Witness

With the knowledge of how designs and materials can cause defective erections, an expert witness should be sought for cases where these edifices cause an incident. Poor or low-quality equipment and resources could be explained, or the lack of training for workers involved may be the point of failure. No matter what the specifics, an expert witness is invaluable to architectural cases.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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