FAQS: Forensic Automotive Engineering Services

Q: Why does Lange Technical separate “Claims Assistance Services” from “Forensic Automotive Engineering Services”?

A: For over 30 years, Lange Technical Services, Ltd. has been providing the insurance industry with technical assistance in the claims investigation process. The Claims Assistance Program (CAP) is designed specifically for that purpose.

It is intended to provide our clients with a lower cost alternative to utilizing a forensic engineer for all investigative matters while maintaining the engineering participation. Lower investigative costs mean lower exposure claims become worth the investigative investment.

Certified technicians, experts in their specialized fields, inspect the vehicle using engineering procedures and protocols, and report the findings to our in-house engineering staff for review. With the data from the technician, the engineering staff can determine the need (or lack thereof) for an engineering analysis. This is the procedure used by the vehicle manufacturer’s and NHTSA.

Q: What does “Origin and Cause” actually stand for?

A: Origin and Cause is a term specific to fire investigation. It describes the process of determining where the fire started and what was the cause. However, the term is often misused and applied to any instance where an expert is consulted to evaluate a vehicle.

Q: What is Daubert and why do you make such a big stink about it?

A: Daubert or more appropriately Daubert v. Merrill Dow Chemical is the name of a Supreme Court Decision rendered in 1997 which established the difference between expertise and methodology. This decision required experts to substantiate the basis for their opinions and prevents them from offering opinions just because they are “experts”. Very simply, the validity of scientific conclusions is not about experts qualifications, but the way methods used to reach those conclusions.

Q: What is NFPA 921?

A: NPFA 921, “Guide for Fire and Explosion Investigations” is a document published by the National Fire Protection Association that attempts to standardize the science of fire investigation. This guide is a valuable tool to both fire investigators and those conducting fire investigations. By drawing on the experiences of various people and groups in fire investigation, the manual is a combination of reference and methodology recommendations intended to address “Daubert” issues and complement the art normally associated with fire investigation with sound scientific foundation. A companion document to NFPA 921 is NFPA 1033 which discusses the recommended qualifications of fire experts.

Q: What is a CV?

A: A CV is an acronym for the term Curriculum Vitae; its literal Latin translation is: “Course of Life”. It is a record of an expert’s credentials. Unlike a resume, the Curriculum Vitae is a documentation of an expert’s education, training and experience. This is necessary to properly evaluate an expert’s qualifications, track his or her professional development, determine their actual participation in their field of expertise by professional affiliations and ongoing training, and support their opinion by fulfilling the requirements of the Federal Rules of Evidence 702. The Federal Rules of Evidence states, “ blah blah blah ”.

Q: Does Lange Technical Services do “Arson” investigation?

A: Arson, the intentional burning of ones own or another’s property, may be one of many conclusions drawn following a fire investigation but is not the basis for an investigation.

Q: Does Lange Technical Services do Key Pathway® Examinations?

A: Key Pathway ® Examination is a microscopic lock and key analysis procedure used by a specific forensic firm who has trademarked the name. Lange Technical Services, Ltd. does perform microscopic lock and tool mark analysis. We do not use trade names for procedures simply because the courts do not accept methodologies that do not meet the Daubert or Frye standards and are unsupported by the forensic science community to which they are being applied. In addition, most courts, especially when evidence is challenged, are not willing to allow the trier of fact (judge, jury or arbitrator) to hear evidence derived from methodologies that are unpublished or untested by impartial peer organizations. The lock analysis procedures used by Lange Technical Services, Ltd