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Your Arbitration Case
What to do
What does it mean to “go” to arbitration?
In car accidents, this means that your insurance company will get their investigation together and submit it to the arbitration panel.
The investigation data is put in a file and an argument is written to persuade the panel that your damages should be a certain amount or that you are not at fault.
Although this sounds easy enough, many adjusters completely drop the ball when it comes to arbitration. They miss deadlines and just slap together a few pages without really advocating for you.
Your arbitration file should have transcribed recorded statements from all parties (if any were taken), pictures, scene investigations, police reports, state traffic codes, diagrams, witness statements, estimates, etc.
Your file should be complete and should show that your case has been thoroughly investigated with findings that support your point of view (they should be presented in the best light possible).
I have adjuster’s friends that are part of arbitration panels and they agree that the best case in arbitration is the one that has the most documentation.
They have found one insurance company as the winner simply because the adjuster of that insurance company documented the file better.
There were no substantive findings of who should be at fault, just a better investigation.
Because arbitration is not a judicial proceeding, the rules of evidence do not apply. This means that everything can be seen by the arbitrators and the adjusters will not get a chance to dispute or review each other’s findings (cross examination).
There are no rebuttals or anything of that nature.
Arbitration is done on paper. There are no oral arguments or a chance for the adjusters to explain their point of view, or their opinions in an oral statement. It is all written.
You will not have an opportunity to speak out or to say what is on your mind about the case.
If you want to do this, you must have your adjuster write something for you, and in most cases, your writing will never make it to the final panel.
Remember, the arbitration decision cannot be appealed so this can really affect your case.
Make sure you review the file BEFORE the adjuster submits it to the arbitration panel (done electronically). If you can review the file, then you can add, subtract, or modify anything you want.
Remember that adjusters will be hesitant to show you this.
On one hand, it is one more thing they have to do, and on the other hand, you might not like the investigation they have done (no pictures, missing police reports, misinterpretation of your words, etc.).
They have a duty to you and you can force them to give you these documents.
Remind them that they have a fiduciary duty to you, and if they do not comply, a bad faith lawsuit might ensue.
Insurance adjusters might tell you that they do not have an obligation to give you anything because it is their “work product.”
They are trying to use a rule of Evidence and Civil Procedure to tell you that their work is protected by a legal privilege, and therefore you cannot see it. THIS ARGUMENT IS INCORRECT, very incorrect.
You can check with a local attorney about Work Product. Note that Work Product only applies to work done in anticipation of litigation by AN ATTORNEY or ITS AGENTS.
Here, there is no attorney, and a claim adjuster is not an agent of an attorney unless there is an attorney assigned to the claim, which 99% of the time it does not happen when two adjusters are going to arbitration.
Also, work product “attaches” when the attorney comes into the picture. Any documents, pictures, notes, reports, scene investigation, or anything before then is discoverable (you can get it).
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