Forensic engineering has been defined as "the investigation of failures - ranging from serviceability to catastrophic - which may lead to legal activity, including both civil and criminal". It includes the investigation of materials, products, structures or components that fail or do not operate or function as intended, causing personal injury, damage to property or economic loss. The consequences of failure may give rise to action under either criminal or civil law including but not limited to health and safety legislation, the laws of contract and/or product liability and the laws of tort. The field also deals with retracing processes and procedures leading to accidents in operation of vehicles or machinery. Generally, the purpose of a forensic engineering investigation is to locate cause or causes of failure with a view to improve performance or life of a component, or to assist a court in determining the facts of an accident. It can also involve investigation of intellectual property claims, especially patents. In the US, forensic engineers require a professional engineering license from each state.
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