The ’80s brought us movies like The Terminator, where the idea of tucking your child in at night from across the world was seen as science fiction and the advent of artificial intelligence meant the end of the world in a fiery explosion of action. Today, those once unrealistic ideas of AI have been anticlimactically rolled out, without much fanfare or any destruction of entire cities.
But one thing has irrevocably changed with the transition of AI into everyday lives, and that is the field of law. Personal injury attorneys and judges were not quite prepared for the uncertainty and turmoil that would come with determining liability in data breaches, robotic surgeries, and even autonomous vehicles.
Without much case law to go by in these lawsuits, each unique claim is literally creating a precedent for all future similar lawsuits in real time. Today’s personal injury attorneys are excited to be part of this transition into new law as science fiction becomes reality.
How AI Impacts the Way Law is Being Practiced
Case law is absolutely one of the most significant areas affected by artificial intelligence, but the practice of law itself is changing in the 21st century. For most attorneys, this change brings about a breath of fresh air. Things that were once overly complicated, such as finding a past case verdict to use in defense of a current one, are now at your fingertips.
There really aren’t too many avenues that AI hasn’t impacted in everyday life and business. Here are 3 ways the legal field is changing during the transition into the Age of Artificial Intelligence.
1. Less time spent researching means more time spent on more crucial tasks.
As early as a decade ago, the idea of researching law meant spending days in a law library with hundreds of books piled up in front of you. This massive time-wasting necessity meant hours billed to personal injury clients, sure, but it also meant longer waits for trials, less time mounting arguments when deadlines were imminent, and attorney burnout or personal life struggles.
With AI technology, large documents and files are scanned and analyzed quickly. The data found is used to create a case built on sound legal research. It can even be used to compile previous defenses and legal strategies and predict the likelihood of an outcome based on each argument. Data and research obtained through AI methods has been statistically proven to be more accurate than that of human work, too, making this the preferred way for many lawyers to get their information.
2. Artificial intelligence is replacing many tasks.
It’s commonplace anymore for people to receive an automated recording when they call almost any company, but in law firms, this is just the start of the new staff remodeling. Where one big case once required multiple attorneys and legal aids to research and compile data, AI has reduced that need immensely.
As more than one-quarter of an attorney or law clerk’s job becomes the role of an automated system, law firms must decide whether to use this free time to cut overhead and staff or restructure job requirements. Many legal firms have viewed this as an opportunity for their lawyers to become more creative with their caseload, digging deeper and learning more; whereas, if they were to simply cut jobs, the problem of burnout and overwork would continue to perpetuate.
This efficient system of task replacement brings up the concern of a reduction in billable hours, though. Since the legal system has long used billable hours as its way of paying for its lawyers and clerks, what will this efficiency mean for client bills and attorney fees? This effect is still being watched and determined.
3. Personal injury liability law is being recreated.
The common, underlying theme behind any Los Angeles personal injury lawsuit is that there was neglect involved. This neglectfulness is always pinned on the defendant. Proving the defendant was neglectful, especially when their actions are introduced to an AI, isn’t exactly cut and dried
As instances of lawsuits against drivers of autonomous cars and companies who have experienced data breaches expand, judges and lawyers are regularly facing sets of factors with no precedent in case law. The ultimate rulings of these laws will have widespread impacts as they are used to create foundations for future lawsuits.
Tort liability is still being used as the platform on which verdicts are determined. Traditional negligence, no-fault, and strict liability are the basics on which a decision is made, but because of the autonomy involved with AI, there are a lot of unknown variables at play.
For instance, in the case of self-driving cars, each vehicle has a varying degree of actual autonomy. The driver still has a role to play in the final determining actions for many of these cars, so proving if the fault was with the driver or the car determines who the entity liable should be. Prosecuting the wrong defendant could negate the entire case, making this extra challenging for the personal injury attorney.
During this legal restructuring, both the defense and prosecution must prepare arguments for and against driver error, software defects, product malfunctions, and any other possible case. They have to determine where the neglect stemmed from in order to point fingers at or away from the defendant and create and defend their case, predicting all potential arguments along the way.
Artificial Intelligence is Impacting the Law in Major Ways
It’s a time when personal injury attorneys are on the forefront of the artificial intelligence legal age; researching, learning, and helping to create new laws as this unique frontier is traversed. It’s an exciting era for those with a passion for justice and the legal system.
But from the way legal firms are restructuring their personnel and job descriptions to a revamping of how they are charging their clients, the repercussions are going to be widespread. It’s possible that many of the effects of AI haven’t even been felt yet, but one thing is for sure: As they unfold, personal injury attorneys will be there at the front of the line to learn about them and implement them into their legal strategies.