Peer review of an expert’s work is good case insurance against a summary investigation, a careless analysis of the data, invalid conclusions and/or a poorly formulated opinion on cause. And if all’s good, then it’s good insurance against delay in resolving the dispute and taking up the court or tribunal’s time.
And if a forensic investigation was omitted then peer review and identification of the technical issues is good insurance if the review finds you’re out on a limb – it’s nice to know where you’re at if you’ve got to backtrack.
(Summary as in “done quickly in a way that does not follow the normal process” – not thorough. Ref. 1)
By definition: Peer review is a process by which work (such as a scientific or engineering study, investigation or report) is checked by one or more experts in the same field to make sure it meets the necessary standards before it is published or relied on. (after Ref. 1) It can be as simple as getting an independent expert to simply read the report of the investigating expert.
Also by definition: Insurance is a means of guaranteeing protection against loss. For example, “The peer review is your insurance against the loss arising from a summary forensic investigation or no investigation at all.”. (after Ref. 1)
I reflect on the above when I learn of failures and accidents in the built and natural environments that are well beyond the case merit assessment stage without benefit of an expert’s insight. Not even a reading of the documents and a walk-over survey of the site – relatively quick and inexpensive forensic engineering tasks..
I had the Eureka! moment recently when I was following up on the status of a case after consulting with an advocate on the need for an expert to look into the matter. Initially we discussed the circumstances of the problem and confirmed I was qualified to investigate it. I was remiss at the time in not inquiring about the stage of the civil litigation. I was surprised during my follow-up to learn that the case was in discovery.
Oh boy, what to do this late in the game? I found myself typing my last sentence in an e-mail suggesting peer review - it just came out of the blue, the Eureka! moment - “Peer review is good case insurance”.
I know about peer review in forensic engineering but never thought of it as insurance.
By way of refreshing your understanding of peer review in forensic investigation you might read one or more of the blogs listed below in the references that I posted in the past. They’re all quite informative, if I do say so myself, particularly Ref. 4 on peer review costs. If nothing else, that one could save you money in litigation involving experts. My blogs are also well referenced to the engineering and scientific literature on peer review so lots of good reading there too.
- Merriam-Webster dictionary, November 10, 2018
- Peer review in civil litigation and civil litigation. Posted November 26, 2013
- Peer reviewing an expert’s report ensures the justice system gets what it needs. Posted January 15, 2016
- Peer review costs can be controlled. Posted January 22, 2016
- Peer review pays off – 17 years later. Posted May 5, 2018