Civil Law

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Civil law—the body of laws of a state or nation dealing with the rights of private citizens—seeks to resolve noncriminal disputes such as disagreements over property ownership or damage, insurance, contracts, divorce, and child custody. RAND helps make the civil justice system more efficient and more equitable by supplying government and private decisionmakers and the public with the results of objective, empirically based, analytic research.

  • Emergency workers float along an oil collection boom in front of Athos I after it spilled 30,00 gallons of crude oil into the Delaware River in Philadelphia, November 28, 2004, photo by Tim Shaffer/Reuters

    Report

    The Benefits and Drawbacks of Early Assistance After Disasters

    Nov 14, 2019

    After human-made disasters, early assistance from potentially responsible parties can sometimes fill gaps that are not always addressed by NGOs and first responders. But is providing such assistance a good strategy in terms of reducing future litigation or improving public opinion?

  • A statue of Themis holding the scales of justice

    Content

    RAND Institute for Civil Justice

    Oct 3, 2011

    The RAND Institute for Civil Justice (ICJ), a part of the Justice Policy program, conducts research on all aspects of civil justice, from trends in litigation and jury verdicts to punitive damages, compensation systems, and alternative dispute resolution. Directly or indirectly, civil justice issues have an impact on us all.

Explore Civil Law

  • Chalk drawing of a group of people around the world, photo by Professor25/Getty Images

    Commentary

    Celebrating Children's Rights Is Important, but More Progress Is Needed

    The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which set a legal framework and put children's rights firmly on the international policy agenda, was adopted 30 years ago November 20th. While there are a number of initiatives in place, more work could be done to maximize children's involvement in policy and decision-making on issues that affect their lives.

    Nov 25, 2019

  • Scales of justice on a table in front of books in a bookcase, photo by Zolnierek/Getty Images

    Commentary

    The RAND Institute for Civil Justice: 40th Anniversary Reflections

    The RAND Institute for Civil Justice (ICJ) has supplied government and private decisionmakers and the public with the results of objective, empirically based, analytic research. In this era of Truth Decay, the diminishing role of facts and analysis in public life, the ICJ's mission and research have never been more important.

    Nov 6, 2019

  • Two passengers working in a driverless car, illustration by sorbetto/Getty Images

    Blog

    When Driverless Cars Were a Remote Idea

    Researchers at RAND have been working on the technology behind driverless vehicles for over 50 years. From 1968 to the present, studies have involved remote-controlled drones, military land vehicles, autonomous submarines, and the safety and liability issues of self-driving cars.

    Nov 1, 2019

  • Illustration of a large gavel crashing down on self-driving cars, illustration by Chris Philpot

    Essay

    Who's Responsible When Your Car Gets Hacked?

    Cars are becoming "fast, heavy artificial intelligences on wheels," a RAND report cautions, and that means they're becoming vulnerable. Potentially billions of dollars ride on the question of who has the legal responsibility to keep hackers from grabbing the wheel or cutting the brakes.

    Oct 23, 2019

  • Farm workers pick tomatoes in the countryside near the town of Foggia, southern Italy, September 24, 2009, photo by Tony Gentile/Reuters

    Commentary

    Saving Farmworkers from Slavery-Like Conditions, Field by Field

    Those at the bottom of the European agricultural supply chain are vulnerable to abuse. The same was true in the tomato fields of Florida until recently. The solution developed there may offer a roadmap for doing right by workers in Europe.

    Sep 5, 2019

  • Report

    When Autonomous Vehicles Are Hacked, Who Is Liable?

    The arrival of autonomous vehicles (AVs) on the roads will require policymakers, industry, and the public to adapt to the risk of hackers attacking these vehicles. RAND researchers explored the civil liability issues related to hacked AVs.

    Jul 12, 2019

  • Smart car 3D rendering, photo by Production Perig/Adobe Stock

    Research Brief

    When an Autonomous Vehicle Is Hacked, Who Is Liable?

    Hacks on autonomous vehicles could lead to deaths, property destruction, ransomware attacks, or data theft. Several scenarios illustrate the policy challenges facing the civil legal system, insurers, and others.

    Jul 12, 2019

  • Equations and formulas behind scales of justice, images by monsitj and DNY59/Getty Images

    Report

    Addressing the Challenges of Algorithmic Equity

    Social institutions increasingly use algorithms for decisionmaking purposes. How do different perspectives on equity or fairness inform the use of algorithms in the context of auto insurance pricing, job recruitment, and criminal justice?

    Jul 11, 2019

  • Imam Ibrahim Abdul Halim of the Linwood Mosque is embraced by Father Felimoun El-Baramoussy from the Coptic Church, in Christchurch, New Zealand March 18, 2019, photo by Edgar Su/Reuters

    Commentary

    The Christchurch Massacre Was Another Internet-Enabled Atrocity

    Terrorism has become an internet-enabled abuse—incited, propagated, and sometimes organized and concealed by online activity. Who should be held accountable for abusive content, the author or the publisher? And what role should the government play in regulating it?

    Mar 20, 2019

  • A close-up image of a police body camera clipped to a vest

    Report

    Using Video Analytics and Sensor Fusion in Law Enforcement: Building a Research Agenda That Includes Business Cases, Privacy and Civil Rights Protections, and Needs for Innovation

    Video technology is changing the ways that law enforcement works and interacts with the public. In this report, the authors explore some of the challenges posed and innovation needs in this emerging area.

    Dec 28, 2018

  • Legal gavel and leather binder on a desk

    Report

    The Role of Health Care Liens in Litigation and Recovery

    This paper examines the different types of health care liens and trends in prevalence, as well as how liens have changed the landscape of claim resolution.

    Nov 19, 2018

  • Report

    An Evaluation of New Mexico's Online Intake System for Civil Legal Aid

    This report describes an evaluation of the online intake system for civil legal aid that New Mexico implemented in April 2016 to better assess the effects online intake systems might have in practice.

    Sep 28, 2018

  • The Facebook logo is pictured during the Viva Tech start-up and technology summit in Paris, France, May 25, 2018

    Commentary

    Freedom of the Internet 'Press'

    The First Amendment enables companies such as Facebook to publish what they choose. Arguing against this right could lead to government regulation over digital media. It could also further degrade the reliability of online information.

    Aug 10, 2018

  • Social network illustration superimposed over a city at night

    Report

    How Police Could Use Social Media and Social Network Analysis

    Social media and social network analysis could help law enforcement monitor for safety threats, identify those at high risk for involvement in violence, and investigate crimes and crime networks. But computer security, privacy, and civil rights protections must be in place before using these tools.

    Jul 18, 2018

  • Students march as part of a national school walkout on March 14, 2018 to honor the 17 students and staff members killed on February 14 in Parkland, Florida

    Commentary

    From Florida's Farm Fields, Lessons for #MeToo and Other Movements

    Organizers who want to bring about social change would do well to look to Florida farmworkers. They took on the low wages, physical abuse, and vulnerability that have long characterized agricultural labor in the United States—and won, changing the culture for the better.

    Jun 15, 2018

  • Illustration of the scales of justice with computer circuit board background

    Research Brief

    Emerging Technology Trends and Their Impact on Criminal Justice

    The Criminal Justice Technology Forecasting Group discussed near-term effects that major societal trends could have on criminal justice and identified potential responses. This brief summarizes a report of the results of the group's meetings.

    Mar 26, 2018

  • A judge's gavel represented in computer code

    Report

    Addressing Emerging Trends to Support the Future of Criminal Justice: Findings of the Criminal Justice Technology Forecasting Group

    The Criminal Justice Technology Forecasting Group deliberated on the effects that major societal trends could have on criminal justice in the near future and identified potential responses. This report captures the results of the group's meetings.

    Mar 19, 2018

  • U.S. Permanent Resident ID (green card) with a gavel and an American flag

    Commentary

    The Immigration Debate: Building a Bridge Across the Deportation-Amnesty Divide

    Discussions of U.S. immigration are dominated by arguments that pit “rule of law” proponents — focused on apprehension, detention, and deportation — against “humanitarian” supporters seeking a pardon or amnesty that will allow immigrants to stay in the country. Minor changes to the statute known as “Cancellation of Removal” could offer a compromise.

    Feb 28, 2018

  • U.S. Department of Homeland Security Logo

    Report

    Neither Deportation nor Amnesty: An Alternative for the Immigration Debate

    About 11 million people live in the United States without lawful immigration status. Proposed solutions typically focus on deportation versus amnesty, but a minor change to the current immigration law could offer a compromise.

    Feb 26, 2018

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