By: 15 July 2016
Robotic behaviour

Mark Hewitt on how AI can transform the personal injury and clinical negligence claims markets for the better

You know times are changing when social media is awash with the hashtag #RobotsAndLawyers.

The Law Society’s recent debate on the topic prompted a mixed response from across the profession. Some were outraged at the mere suggestion. Others gave it an enthusiastic welcome. But more generally, there was shrug of acceptance that Artificial Intelligence (AI) was inevitable.

Let’s be honest, most lawyers go through phases when the feeling of déjà vu seems continuous. Repetition in most jobs is par for the course and we can all feel like robots from time to time. But for the legal profession these days may well be numbered with the astonishing progression of artificial intelligence.

The progress of AI is particularly relevant to the claims market.

I have an obvious interest in this subject, given that our software is used by over 2,000 lawyers, barristers, claims managers and insurers. However, just imagine what might be done by AI in personal injury and medical negligence law.

Case management systems will continue to take care of the standard paperwork side of things, but AI can do real work – like telling a lawyer which pages of medical records contain references to pain, spine, or similar words or groups of words so as not to miss anything (including obvious typos in medical records).

AI could also be used to evaluate medical outcomes on a scale that ensures expert opinions are so statistically accurate that challenges to their conclusions become futile. AI could then read the pleadings from each side and predict the outcome based on results of other cases while accounting for litigation risk. The possibilities really are endless.

AI will never, in my view, replace the need for lawyers in personal injury and clinical negligence law.

In fact, that’s something that we are keen to stress to our clients. We’re not replacing lawyers, instead we’re developing software to make your job easier (and more profitable). The human side of a lawyer’s role in handling a serious injury claim is what most do the job for.

On the claimant side, really making a difference is not all about the level of damages secured, but also about helping and guiding an individual through a time in their life that can be traumatic and overwhelming. The process of recounting an event that has negatively changed someone’s life irreversibly requires empathy and trust.

While evidence on paper is black and white, surely AI cannot account for the performance of a party giving evidence in court or in negotiations during some form of ADR?

As thought leaders in the field of injury claims and technology, our company is exploring how technology can be harnessed as part of the claims settlement process.

In the future, could agreed settlement figures all come down to predictions based on data from other cases, which AI can evaluate in a fraction of a second? Once the investigation and evidence gathering aspects of a case are concluded, is there something attractive about the idea of the outcome being predicted by a machine?

This obviously goes against the instinct of most litigators, but if the desired end point is for an injured person to be fairly compensated, and the result may be reached more efficiently and with more certainty using AI, then I’m sure I’m not the only one believing this could represent access to justice in an acceptable way.

Mark Edwards, vice-president of Rocket Lawyer UK – widely regarded as being the most technologically progressive law firm out there – predicts that AI will not have a radical impact on the profession in our lifetime.

However, he is talking about the legal profession in a wider context. I believe that the injury claims market is more suitable than most for greater use of innovative technology and is being driven down this route quicker than other sectors in the profession, not least because of the pressures on fees.

Therefore, lawyers wanting to flourish in this market need to embrace the new technology available to them now, as well as in the future. If specific tasks can be done by robots, this leaves more time to have those all-important conversations with clients and opponents.

Technological advancements are already happening which make the claims process easier and faster.

It’s only a matter of time before the entire negotiation and settlement process for a large proportion of injury cases is taken online.

Mark Hewitt is managing director at Rebmark Legal Solutions