Evaluating Civil Claims

An Expert Systems Approach

by D. A. Waterman, Mark A. Peterson

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This paper, a reprint of an article that originally appeared in Vol. 1 of the journal Expert Systems, describes the authors' current work in applying expert systems, a sophisticated form of computer modeling, to describe reasoning involved in settlement of civil liability claims. The authors studied how lawyers and adjusters evaluate civil claims in the product liability area, and developed a schema that organizes the facts and issues of a case. The schema, and a large set of rules they use to elaborate the schema, form the basis for an expert system that models legal decisionmaking. This system, called LDS, can help both researchers and litigators understand better how claim evaluation takes place since it provides a basis for generating and organizing hypotheses about litigators' methods for making settlements. The findings suggest that rule-based expert systems can be developed and used to understand decisions involved in civil litigation; this information can be translated into the if-then rules of a rule-based model, and that model can capture much of the richness and flexibility of legal reasoning.

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