The Role of the Arbitrator(s)
The useful concept behind arbitration is to avoid lengthy and expensive litigation and the formality of evidentiary rulings before the Court. Some locales have a procedure using one arbitrator, other require multiple arbitrators. Each claim must be reviewed by the file handler with information as to the prior decisions of the particular arbitrator(s). These lend the best guidance as to what the particular arbitrators want to see and don’t want to see, as well as revealing how liberal they are with making awards. Note the arbitration itself is typically much less formal than a trial. The rules of evidence typically do not apply. It is much easier for claimants’ attorneys to prove their cases before an arbitrator than it is in open Court. The arbitrators may accept doctors’ reports, in lieu of having doctors testify, as an expense saving measure. The entire arbitration may take place on one day or on a series of days in a complicated case, or if physicians are going to testify and be cross-examined. In our experience, the arbitrators tend to reward preparation and thoroughness on the part of the UM/SUM insurer’s counsel. There is very little opportunity to delay these arbitration’s if needed preparation has been deferred. The quick and comparatively simple nature of the process requires that the defense must be handled aggressively from the inception of the claim.
Remember that the arbitrator has considerable power and discretion. In evaluating the potential exposure, it is important to note appellate review is typically much more limited than in a trial in court.
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