What can you get from a virtual visual examination of an accident scene?

In these COVID-19 times, why not “stay home”, as we’re told, and do a virtual visual examination of a failure or accident scene? Simply read the documents and study the photographs then hypothesize cause, at least initially.

Recognize the document study for what it is, a virtual visual examination, and accept it as a quite valid task in a forensic investigation. At least in the short term, in the interest of staying safe.

There’s no question a lonely expert can still go to a scene and do a visual examination, get a wealth of data and be quite safe. (Ref. 1) It’s just that a virtual visual examination of a site is good in the beginning too, can sometimes, unexpectedly, see the cause, and is less expensive.


I thought this recently when I was contacted and read the emailed documents on a slip and fall accident and studied attached photographs. I realized this was a virtual visual examination of the scene. The probable cause of the accident was obvious in this case. The party responsible was possibly lurking in the wings, virtually visible too.

It was also easy to identify the three field tasks that would need to be done during a complete forensic investigation of the slip and fall and the data that would be got from each. Also a fourth office task.

  1. Visit and visually examine and measure the accident scene for real, and take more photographs – and also get calibrated to the scene as I blogged recently (Ref. 2)
  2. Examine construction of other similar facilities in the area
  3. Re-enact the accident at the scene
  4. Assess the standard of care in the office for design and construction of similar facilities

So, the cause, the parties involved and the tasks necessary for a full scale forensic investigation. All this from a document review – a virtual visual examination of the accident scene without leaving the office.

It’s a way of thinking in keeping with these COVID-19 times.


  1. COVID-19 and an initial forensic task a.k.a a visual site assessment, sans social distancing. Posted June 6, 2020
  2. Can you “calibrate” a forensic expert? Posted June 23, 2020