4 Technologies Primed to Disrupt Legal and Medical Funding

October 13, 2017
5min read

In recent years and by rapid development, technology has become an everyday part of life. Bearing this in mind, Mighty strives to meet the software needs of the maturing legal and medical funding industries.

I thought it would be fun to take a look at some of the latest technological advances and predict how they may affect legal funding in the future. Will we all be traveling in flying cars in 2040?  Hard to say. For now, let's explore some rising technologies and their potential impact on legal and medical funding.  

1. Drones/Autonomous Vehicles

Drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles, and self-driving cars are technological advances developing so rapidly that legislation can hardly keep up. 

Thirty-three states have introduced legislation to regulate self-driving vehicles in 2017 alone, and drone regulation is evolving just as rapidly under the jurisdiction of the Federal Aviation Administration. I know you're daydreaming about droned pizza delivery right now. But first, let's contemplate the potential impact these technological advances may have on legal funding. (I know, not as exciting as pizza.)

Under current law, automobile accidents are regulated at the state level. Some states assign fault through a negligence standard, while others operate under a no-fault system, where each driver is covered under his own insurance policy unless damages exceed a defined monetary amount.

However, with self-driving cars in the mix, it's difficult to imagine that present legislative frameworks will continue to function unchanged. How do you determine that a car with no driver failed to exercise reasonable care? The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has recognized that self-driving cars will inevitably become part of everyday life, and he's directed states to develop legislation to determine how liability will be determined in the event of accidents with these types of vehicles

Depending on the direction taken, the legal funding landscape could change drastically, from the types of claims plaintiffs bring to the manner in which legal funders assess investments.

For further reading on self-driving cars: How Self-Driving Cars will Disrupt the Personal Injury Economy

Some commentators have anticipated we may see a move from traditional negligence liability to strict liability, the standard type more commonly applied in manufacturer defect and product liability litigation. Plaintiffs may bring lawsuits against the manufacturers of self-driving cars instead of other motor vehicle operators. There is also the possibility that the rate of motor vehicle accidents will drop dramatically if the number of self-driving cars surpasses those driven by people, as the overwhelming majority of car accidents are caused by human error.

As for drones, the same questions arise regarding liability for unsafe operation or human injury; but drones also raise interesting questions surrounding privacy. Torts such as invasion of privacy, trespass and nuisance laws could be completely transformed as the use of drones popularizes.  The same is true for criminal liability as they relate to these torts. California has already enacted legislation to protect celebrities against paparazzi, but, for the most, part legislators are still trying to catch up with this emerging technology. It is interesting to see that law firms are already advertising their services for these sorts of cases - Motley Rice: Drone Crash Lawsuits.  

2. Artificial Intelligence Chatbots

Chatbots are services run by artificial intelligence that allows users to interact with a product or service via a chat interface. They have become especially popular in online retail and customer support. As people increasingly become familiarized messenger applications, the use of chatbots may soon become ubiquitous, including in the realm of legal funding!

For example, let's take a look at telemedicine. It is becoming more and more common for patients and physicians to interact via the internet in order to access health care, diagnose ailments, and obtain prescriptions.

In the future, artificial intelligence could replace physicians for the same purposes, at which stage a difficult question must be addressed:  in the event of a misdiagnosis, who is to blame? How can a plaintiff prove medical malpractice against artificial intelligence? With many applications using "clickwrap" agreements to bind users to mandatory arbitration or other terms, would plaintiffs be waiving their right to sue for medical malpractice?

Similar questions can, of course, be asked of legal chatbots, such as DoNotPay and DocuBot.

Depending on the degree to which chatbots evolve, these may be very relevant considerations for plaintiffs and legal funders.      

3. Blockchain

Succinctly put blockchain is a technology that enables the creation of incorruptible digital ledger of transactions.

Proponents of the technology say it eliminates the need for financial, or other, intermediaries enabling the streamlining transactions and eliminating the potential for a centralized hack of data.

For legal funding investors and executives, blockchain technology has the potential to change nearly every aspect of practice, including through the use of digital smart contracts. These contracts would timestamp all signatures and speed up transaction timeframes by eliminating the need for multiple copies and original signatures from all parties to a legal funding agreement.

For the legal funding industry, it's not a stretch to imagine that eventually, this technology could affect businesses top to bottom -- smart contracts, a new source of financing (see: Initial Coin Offering), and faster/easier payments to plaintiffs could just be the start.

If you're interested in learning more about this technology, this podcast episode is the easiest and best place to start: The Quiet Master of Cryptocurrency  

4. Virtual Reality

Virtual reality is a 3D-simulated environment that gives a user the opportunity to interact in a seemingly real way.

While this technology has been hyped at least since the `80s, the virtual reality revolution is now actually here, and it's no longer limited to video games and entertainment purposes. Its present uses include training health care professionals, like doctors and nurses, and providing physical therapy for professional athletes. So, how could this technology affect legal funding in the future?

Virtual reality has the means to transform the manner in which attorneys present evidence to judges and juries. For example, attorneys could recreate a three-dimensional accident scene right in the courtroom. If juries are able to witness events as they happened, even if recreated virtually, assigning liability and rendering a verdict will change completely; particularly detailed virtual recreations may even force defense attorneys into an early settlement.

Further advantages afforded legal funders by VR include the ability to take depositions remotely and the potential for the creation of real-time transcripts, both of which will help with the speed of trials.

As new technologies continue to arise and shape our everyday lives, it's no longer a doubt or question whether they will become commonplace; the way they affect legal funding, however, is still to be determined. We'll surely be on the lookout!  

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