Retaining Structure Failure

A Structure Failure case – This animation details the devastating catastrophe that was caused by the failure of a retaining wall. 

Shortcuts Lead to Long Delays
Removing a Strut for Easier Digging Led to a Fatality and Seven Weeks of Delay

The project was designed properly, and the contractor executed the design in a perfectly satisfactory manner. All was well until it came time to dig. There was a strut which functioned as a support for the retaining wall that was making the task of digging rather challenging. Instead of putting up with the tedious strut, the contractor decided to remove it. After digging eighteen feet down, the retaining wall gave way, killing the excavator operator, damaging the excavator, and causing seven weeks of no construction activity.

In accordance with the original design, the contractor placed three struts slightly above the ground to keep both retaining walls in place. 

Each of these struts are critical to the structural integrity of the retaining wall. When one is removed, there is too much pressure on the other two. 

As the excavator continued to dig, this pressure increased until the wall failed and caused enormous damages. The man inside the excavator was crushed to death, the retaining wall itself was damaged, and there were seven weeks of costly delay. 


Anybody that works in construction knows that injuries are bound to happen. Whether it’s a slip and fall or being crushed inside an excavator, safety protocols will not always be enough. However, when it comes time to decide causation and magnitude of pain and suffering, the situation can become cloudy. 

If you’ve ever attempted to explain to a jury how a certain kind of fall led to significant damages, you know that it’s no easy task. To make things worse, even if exactly the right words are spoken, there’s no guarantee that every jury member will be paying enough attention to fully comprehend what is being said. 

The Effect of Visual Aids

A whole host of problems can arise from a situation where the jury has asymmetrical information. It’s possible that the potential damages that they’re willing to award your client will be less than what they would be if all the members understood the full extent of your client’s suffering. Because of the digital nature of the way that we communicate information in modern society, simply telling somebody about something doesn’t have the effect that it used to. More than ever, visual aids are critical for an efficient information transfer process. 

Kindergarteners have activities like “show and tell” because humans are innately visual creatures. Regardless of a person’s educational background, they will be able to understand something that’s shown to them. 

Douglas Vogel’s conclusion after conducting a study on persuasion and the role of visual presentation support was that:
 “Perceptions of the presenter as well as audience attention, comprehension, yielding, and retention are enhanced when presentation support is used compared to when it is not. Presentations using visual aids were found to be 43% more persuasive than unaided presentations.”


Fox Animation Engineering - Industry Leader for Legal Graphics

This is where animation can be helpful. Our founder, Cody Roberts, has more than a decade of experience working in the construction industry as an engineer, and has created animations for countless construction related injuries. In addition, here at Fox-AE, we’ve mastered the visual art of communicating. Our digital storytellers have worked for years to perfect their craft, and have become some of the best legal animators in the industry. 

Edward Carrick, an expert witness says: “The jury was like a deer in headlights as I described extremely complex Diagnostic Trouble Codes of a Power Steering System on the stand. After we laid the foundation, I re-explained my opinions while the animation was playing simultaneously. The once half awake and confused jury was now engaged, even nodding their heads in agreement. Solid expert opinion together with Fox-AE’s Animation and Video Deposition was unstoppable during this improper installation/product failure case. Out of hundreds of cases, this was the single most difficult case I’ve ever rendered an opinion, and I was glad to have Fox-AE on my team. Our client won the trial.”

Our work speaks for itself. Fox-AE is able to render state-of-the-art animations for cases of all kinds and sizes. Our top-notch team of medical illustrators, practitioners, and engineers all have diverse backgrounds that can create animations that produce results. 

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