accoustics-engineering-headsetHow many times during the course of a trial does the judge have to remind a witness (or lawyer) to keep their voice up?  It is probably enough times that we start to question if it’s really the witness or the room’s acoustics of the room.

An expert witness who is an acoustics engineer can help decipher the question of sound in our environment.  It’s a science that reflects sound, as in soundwaves and their relationship to the environment.  Acoustics engineers contribute to the design of concert halls and the placement of concert amplifying equipment.  They are involved in manufacturing plant design for noise reduction.  In fact, there are dozens of applications for acoustics engineering, from architectural to underwater acoustics.


The U.S. Air Force set the first decibel standards in 1956.  OSHA then adopted standards for the workplace in 1981 at approximately the level of a small chain saw.

The OSHA “TWAN” formula, standing for the “Time Weighted Average Noise,” requires an expert to calculate it.  The formula is designed to reflect the average noise level the worker goes through while working on various tasks during a work day and week.  It tries to capture each of the tasks with each of the associated noise levels and then compute a time-weighted average.

Plaintiffs in cases seeking damages for hearing loss run from what you might anticipate in a workplace to something as cliché as cell phone use to those settings where even a plaintiff’s lawyer might have to concede total assumption of risk.  Consider the example of a multi-million dollar lawsuit filed against a pop star, where the claim was that the singer caused the females in the audience to get excessively wild, screaming at a pitch and volume that exceeded general pop concert standards.  Even the best expert witness might not be able to save your client from that motion to dismiss.

And while there are causation details for the acoustics engineer to work through, there are also damages to dimension through an audiology expert witness.  The audiology and hearing science expert witness can dovetail the facts and circumstances into the plaintiffs specific symptoms.

Your score?  Probably about the same as asking you to tell me what’s in the Third Amendment to the United States Constitution?  I quietly rest my case.

If you’re debating whether to bring in an acoustic engineering expert witness for your case, answer this simple quiz.  What do the following terms mean?  (1.) Absorption.  (2.) Reverberation.  (3.) Diffraction.  (4.) Refraction.   Your score?  I quietly rest my case.

By: Paloma Capanna, Attorney at Law