Forensic science. This term often brings to mind scientific evidence being used in the court of law for criminal proceedings such as violent crimes, sexual offences, drug trafficking, robberies, vandalism and scams. However, the use of forensic evidence is not just limited to criminal investigations and trials. Forensic investigations and analysis have proven to be of evidential value in mediation, arbitration and civil litigations. The same forensic principles, processes and scientific methods are applied to physical evidence, whether a case is criminal or civil. In many instances, the same types of physical evidence are encountered.
USEFULNESS OF FORENSIC SCIENCE IN CIVIL SUITS
Forensic science is a vast field, encompassing diverse disciplines that support a wide scope of applications. Forensic disciplines such as illicit drugs, firearms and bloodstain patterns may be more relevant to criminal cases while others such as questioned documents, damage evidence, traffic accident and industrial incident reconstructions are equally applicable to civil suits involving liability, negligence or insurance claims. The focus of civil suits is compensation and claims for damages in disputes between parties, rather than guilt and punishment or exoneration as in criminal proceedings. The following are some examples of how forensic examinations and reports can be useful in civil disputes:
Fraud: For dispute resolution cases involving fraudulent documents, the forensic discipline of Handwriting and Questioned Document Examination can be vital as it provides answers to questions such as whether a disputed document has been tampered with, backdated, replaced, or whether the signatures on a document was forged.
Personal injury: In civil claims such as those involving traffic collisions or industrial incidents, where the plaintiff is suing the defendant for negligence to claim compensation, the services of a forensic expert who is well-versed and experienced in specialised areas such as traffic accident reconstruction, industrial accident reconstruction, and analysis of damaged materials will be helpful to assist the courts to determine the liability of the parties involved in the incident.
Property damage: Forensic investigations, analysis and simulation experiments can be particularly useful in determining the contributory factors and root causes of an incident such as a fire or explosion, or vandalism. Forensic findings help to unravel the events that likely occurred, and the possible actions of individuals, and shed light on the following: What happened? How and why did it happen? Was it malicious or deliberate? What tools were used to cause the damage? Could the incident have been prevented?”
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