Making Sure Your Weather Expert is Prepared

by Steve Roberts, CCM, President & Forensic Weather Expert

When it comes to engaging a weather expert on a weather-related legal case, it is important to provide your expert with all of the appropriate case documents and materials for them to review prior to writing their report. This will assure that their opinions cannot be challenged by case-specific details that were not disclosed to them prior to their initial report.

When an attorney acquires a weather-related case like a slip and fall, motor vehicle accident, or wind damage, weather experts are essential for developing a well-balanced strategy. Qualified weather experts have the knowledge and experience to reconstruct weather conditions and provide opinions for a specific location. However, sometimes the most accurate and complete weather analysis can be challenged when case materials are reviewed.  Testimony transcripts or photographs may reveal circumstances that hadn’t been considered when the weather expert prepared their initial report. An experienced weather expert understands this. They will state that they reserve the right to amend their report conclusions if new information is later presented. Below are a couple of situations where new information would require an expert to amend their initial weather-related conclusions.

Upon reviewing case documents, a weather expert may discover that there are photographs that were taken shortly after a slip and fall that show man-made snow piles were present. Meanwhile, all of the official weather data may support that there was no natural snow cover in undisturbed areas. If the expert now knows man-made snow piles existed, that opens up the possibility for new ice formation from melting and refreezing. That would have otherwise been deemed an impossibility based on the weather data alone.

In a motor vehicle accident case, a weather expert may conclude that although heavy rain fell the day prior, exposed level outdoor surfaces had completely dried by the time of the accident. The expert may then review testimony that there was standing water in a poor drainage area where the accident occurred. This would cause the weather expert to amend their conclusions. They may state that this standing water is consistent with the prior day’s rain event.

It is also wise for an attorney to consult with a weather expert early on in a weather-related case. At this early stage, there may not be much for an attorney to provide to their weather expert. However, they should provide all documents that outline the case details at this early juncture. This would include items such as the Bill of Particulars and Notice of Claim. It can also be important to discuss the case facts with the expert prior to having them write a report.

Providing a weather expert with all available case materials is the most effective way to avoid surprises down the line. This assures that the weather expert cannot be challenged or ultimately forced to change their opinions at a later stage.

Give CompuWeather a call at (845) 227-8500. Speak with our Certified Consulting Meteorologists and see how their expertise can add value to your legal case or claim.