Fractography, Some Legal Aspects and Challenges
Evidence regarding a fracture event is absolutely and definitively recorded by Nature during the fracture process. That record is in the form of the general macrocrack pattern and the surface topological features of the newly formed fracture surface. In reality, it is the only perfect record of what actually occurred during a fracture. Whenever a conflict or controversy arises regarding a fracture, it is the moral and scientific responsibility of the fractographer to analyze and interpret the record of the fracture as it was created by Nature. It is further necessary for the fractographer to then inform and educate the members of the legal community (lawyer, judge and jury) as to exactly what happened during the failure. This educational process is necessary so that the legal community can collectively understand the history of the fracture and arrive at a just and fair decision regarding responsibility and potential liability for the failure. This paper describes the overall process from the beginning of the fracture examination of the failed artifact to the final appearance in court leading to a decision by the judge or a jury. Both the technical and the human factors are addressed with varying degrees of detail.
J. Dusza, R. Danzer, R. Morrell and G.D. Quinn
R. C. Bradt "Fractography, Some Legal Aspects and Challenges", Key Engineering Materials, Vol. 409, pp. 28-42, 2009