Mark E. Olson
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Seattle, WA 98133

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What is a Forensic Evaluation?

(and why would you need one?)


Gives you the straight facts on the vehicle and complete damages to it.

Forensic Evaluation includes:

A Forensic Evaluation is an enhanced concept in collision damage evaluation.

When a collision estimate is written, it generally is written to include only the damage that can be seen.  The Forensic Evaluation is written the same way but also includes to actually remove parts off the vehicle if necessary to see the true and actual damage. 

 A Forensic Evaluation includes discussing the damage to a vehicle in plain English.  This helps to understand the damage to the vehicle in terms that can be easily understood, this is done in a narrative format.    It also includes  a cross section of the vehicle and uses yes/no check boxes to explain the damage to the vehicle. This helps to understand how the vehicle is constructed and what parts of the vehicle are damaged.  It also explains the type of damage it has (bent, crushed, mashed, torn, shattered, scratched, dented etc.....).   The forensic evaluation's narrative section of the report  provides discussion of the parts that were affected but might not necessarily need to be replaced (stroked bumper absorber pistons, stressed seams, dirt knocked off the frame rail stress points etc..). A written estimate to establish the property damage after viewing the vehicle in an enhanced manner, generally will be of a higher dollar amount because more analysis and teardown to the vehicle will show the true damage. Digital or 35 mm photographs of these parts and the car which will substantially document the damage.

Sometimes the estimate amount is used to determine the amount of injury potential on a given claim. 

The vehicle estimate is written to include those parts that are damaged and need repair or replacement.   With the advent of different vehicle designs, and different construction characteristics, it is important to evaluate each vehicle for it's own individual characteristics. Grouping all vehicles into the same category and basing the severity of the damage on the dollar amount of the estimate is not valid.  (For a more in-depth discussion of different construction types in vehicles please see "the information that you can use now page").  The construction type of  the vehicle will determine the amount of damage and in turn the amount of cost to repair.  Some vehicles have additional damage that is discovered after it has been torn down.

Take this as an example:  a Mercedes 560 SEC M class and a Ford pickup.   The Mercedes rear bumper cover has a texture on it that is very difficult to duplicate.  Replacement of the rear bumper cover would cost $2843.15.  This includes replacement of the rear bumper cover with a new part and to paint it the same color as the vehicle.  This procedure would be necessary with a cosmetic scratch  in the unmatchable texture.   If a Ford pickup was rear ended and it required a new rear bumper and 8.0 hours of frame pulling and straightening.   This would cost $510.42 to repair.  The Ford pickup being a full frame vehicle will not crush and collapse like a unibody vehicle and will tend to transfer the collision energy through the vehicle with very little energy absorption.  Another example of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. One report which lists damage amounts to vehicles that are backed into a flat barrier at 5 mph.    This information was off of their web site on September 29th, 1998. The small car category lists damages between zero for the Volkswagen Jetta  4 dr   to the Kia Sephia   LS  4dr with $  435.00.  There is a lengthy list of crash test data on many vehicles.  Take the link to their web page to see for yourself.  (Be sure and come back)

Does this mean that the Volkswagen Jetta Gl was in a less severe collision or does the specific construction characteristics affect the dollar amount required to repair different vehicles? The estimates were not viewed to determine what type of damage was really done to these vehicles, but since the estimate amounts indicate minor damage, because of the low $ amount,  it has to be assumed that these vehicles had cosmetic damage on them from a 5 mph impact into a fixed barrier to the rear bumper.  Did you ever have a type of car that is listed on the linked web page that had quite a bit more property damage but when it was looked at by an engineer it the impact speed was less than 5 mph?????. A forensic evaluation can help with this problem.  To look at the vehicle for what the car is, taking into account its own characteristics is important in evaluating cases.

Future Forensics™
Office: (206) 362-2835 Toll free: (888) 362-2511