Doug McIlwraith, P.E. – Automotive and Mechanical Forensic Analysis
Vehicle fire analysis
When the vehicle IS the evidence!
Areas of expertise
Avanti Engineering is a resource to support the legal and insurance entities when questions arise following the occurrence of an accident or mishap and an allegation of a mechanical failure is claimed as its cause. It is AE’s mission to provide unbiased, third-party analysis of the failure; to confirm the existence of the failure, to determine its cause and origin, and to understand its effect on the claim loss theory. Analysis proceeds with interim updates throughout the arc of any investigation. Typically, assignments are broken down into Phases.
A Phase I analysis involves review of the failure allegation and associated documentation, examination of the evidence, and often includes some background research, along with a verbal report of findings to date. A Phase II analysis may involve destructive examination procedures, multiple parties (if not already involved in the Phase 1 segment), and/or follow-up lab work where appropriate. Phase III involves providing conclusions through formal written reports, and/or supporting such conclusions through testimony when required.
Years of experience
Analysis of automotive and mechanical failures.
Automotive investigations involve the evaluation of brake failures, loss of control and steering failures, drive train and engine failures, fuel and oil contamination conditions, and performance issues. Sudden acceleration incidents (SAIs), seat belt and airbag performance evaluations from kinematic analysis, along with event data recorder (EDR) interrogation and onboard diagnostic equipment scans define some of the specialized services available. Fire origin and cause determination, accident reconstruction and application of shop standards to repair services also make up a significant portion of the services provided. These evaluations are conducted through physical examination (including borescope and both macro and microscopic imaging), collecting and retaining evidence and submission to labs where appropriate.
Mechanical failures include diagnosing plumbing and HVAC failures, along with household appliances. Similar approaches and methodologies are employed in the pursuit of these cases as well.
I’ve Been in Business For Over 30 Years
I bring a unique blend of hands-on experience repairing vehicles in both dealership and independent environments, along with an engineering background and significant experience working within legal systems that allows me to see a big-picture view of not only the failure mode, but the various obstacles involved in achieving a resolution. Through this combination I have learned to temper the goals of seeking “results” with the necessity of honoring “process “. As an engineer, I know the singular goal of seeking results. However, this approach can be (and often is) sufficient to have evident tossed out by a trial judge (and rightly so). It is always important to keep in mind that here is a significant difference between determining what happened and representing what happened to a jury. All investigations are thus conducted with the focus and fidelity that any and all determinations can be supported in a court-of-law.
I am always ready to work with you.
Vehicles are complex pieces of machinery. The more complex a device is, the higher the probability there is for failure. While the industry is a mature one, failures can and do occur. These failures can result in the loss of life, significant injury and/or loss of property. Understanding what failed and why is the first critical step in recovery and resolution. Ultimately, prevention from recurrence is the target outcome.