David Riggs, Vice President of
SINCE THE MID-1960S, DONAN EN-
gineering, Inc. has been performing
forensic engineering as well as fire and
explosion origin and cause investigations.
While performing thousands of investigations over multiple decades, Donan
recognized the universal need to securely
transport evidence, scientifically test materials in a protected and well-documented environment, and preserve evidence
for potential subrogation claims.
Over the years, Donan engineers have
witnessed potential spoliation events occur prior to the evidence being in their
control or prior to the commencement of
their investigation. Strict packaging standards, thorough documentation with a
detailed chain of custody, and appropriate transportation are essential to protect
evidence. Out of a necessity to preserve
evidence for an adequate forensic study,
a new Donan service was born to include
evidence pick up, packaging, and shipping
from any location in the United States.
The service, known as Loss Logistics,
is initiated when a Donan representative
contacts the insured within one business
day to establish the location, condition
and size of the object, and any other rele-
vant information. A local agent provides
pick up from the site following strict
packaging and transportation standards.
Each item is photographed six times at
three stages in the process before it is
released for shipment. Within one day of
release, the evidence is transported. Upon
arrival at the requested destination, the
evidence is again photographed to ensure
condition and chain of custody.
To date, no evidence shipment request
has been denied by Donan due to its location. Even the most remote locations
have been reached without interruption.
Typical items include dishwashers, refrigerators, and stoves which follow standard
shipping procedures. Each project is individually assessed ensuring the evidence is
preserved throughout the process. In fact,
some projects are more challenging than
others, such as, ensuring preservation of
a water heater while being transported
from Hawaii via boat.
Prior to addressing the universal need
for Loss Logistics, Donan opened a
Component Testing Laboratory offering
full-service solutions for investigating
product failures. As the largest forensic
laboratory of its kind in the nation, the
facility was custom built for top quality
and efficient product inspections. A state-
of-the-art joint inspection laboratory
provides dedicated space and equipment
for joint exams, as well as a breakaway
room for counsel and their experts. The
laboratory houses licensed profession-
al engineers and conducts over 10,000
inspections annually. The high-volume
results in a wealth of knowledge related
to product failures and accurate cause/
failure analysis. This provides an experi-
ence often unmatched by any traditional
local forensic engineer or firm.
Donan’s Component Testing Laboratory also offers in-house materials testing.
With combined expertise and innovative
tools, a forensic case can be made without the added cost of utilizing multiple
vendors. Available technology, such as, a
Scanning Electron Microscope and Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy allows experts
to view failures at high magnification and
compare the material composition against
known industry standards. As a result, files
referred from the field to the subrogation
department or counsel are ready for immediate analysis. Utilizing nondestructive
testing methods at the onset of a project
can eliminate additional joint exams, accelerate timelines, and reduce workloads.
Each of these items, when combined, assist
in reducing the costs associated with processing a subrogation claim.
Regardless of location or product type,
the protection and analysis of evidence is
critical for all subrogation opportunities.
The combination of Loss Logistics and
Donan’s Component Testing Laboratory
allows products to be safely transported
through the process and properly examined by licensed experts. As a result,
Donan provides a turnkey forensic operation that elevates the subrogation process
to a new level in the providing of a quicker response, overall increased efficiency,
preservation of evidence, and unmatched
forensic engineering services.
Protecting Evidence Can Make or
Break a Claim