March 2016 E-Bulletin for Arbitrators

This month's E-Bulletin topics include:

  1. Look to the Evidence
  2. Damages Proof
  3. Comparative Negligence: Are You Considering It?
  4. Member Feedback... Thank You, Arbitrators!

Look to the Evidence

Look at the Evidence GraphicDid you know that auto arbitrations involving the following types of disputes have increased SIGNIFICANTLY in the past two years?

  • Rental
  • Towing and Storage
  • Parts
  • Total Losses

As an arbitrator, you have the authority to decide all types of disputes. You do not have to be a specialist; the evidence should provide the information you need. The evidence must support the specific arguments made by either party.

More to come throughout 2016...

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Damages Proof

In our article, "Damages: What Proof Is Required?", reference was made to proving tow expenses: "For towing, it is a towing bill, showing the date of tow. An exception to submitting actual bills is when these items were paid by the Applicant electronically." This was not meant to represent the only exception, just an example of an exception. Other exceptions may occur, not exclusively, when the tow or storage expense is included on an estimate, salvage yard summary, or total loss evaluation. In determining whether to award these expenses, the arbitrator should take into account the presence of proof as well as other aspects of the loss, such as police report notations, drivability admissions, and points of impact.

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Comparative Negligence: Are You Considering It?

Imagine you are hearing a case for an auto accident that occurred in a comparative negligence state. The scenario is the Respondent's driver, facing north at a stop sign, failed to yield from a stop sign into the path of the Applicant's eastbound driver, who was traveling with a posted limit of 35 miles per hour. The Applicant driver struck the Respondent's vehicle mid-driver side.

The Respondent acknowledges its driver's failure to yield as the proximate cause, but argues its driver is not 100% at fault because the Applicant driver did not see the Respondent vehicle until just before the collision, despite her unobstructed view, and therefore did not allow herself any opportunity to take evasive action. The Applicant insists its driver breached no duties, and it should be awarded 100%.

To support the Applicant's breach of duty to maintain proper lookout, the Respondent furnished a transcribed statement of the Applicant driver containing an admission regarding lookout and an image of the intersection, showing it is free of visual obstructions, as follows:

Is the evidence shown above compelling enough to prove the Applicant breached her duty of lookout? After weighing the Respondent's arguments and evidence against the arguments and evidence of the Applicant, you must make your decision.

Since the loss occurred in a comparative negligence state, the potential negligence of the Applicant must be considered, and if proven, applied to your decision. Which party had the preponderance of evidence in favor of its liability theory? There is no "right" or "wrong" answer; however, you should explain what you decided by referencing the influential piece(s) of evidence, noting specifically what the item(s) contained, and how the content factored into your decision.

Remember, the parties in arbitration do not see one another's evidence. Only you can open a window to what the evidence contained through your explanation.

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Member Feedback... Thank You, Arbitrators!

Thank you arrow graphicThe following is recent member feedback on decisions. Kudos to all on providing the high-quality decisions our membership values and appreciates.

"I want to compliment the arbitrator in the review of this docket. The decision cited the evidence presented and included clearly explained reasoning. Importantly, the decision also addressed our contentions and why they did/did not prevail in this case. In this case, I know that BOTH the contentions and evidence were considered regardless of the final decision."

Thank you, Arbitrator Sis Thavongsa!

"I wanted to let the arbitrator know that we appreciate the time and effort that went into hearing this case. It had complicated issues with the light sequence and timing, and Lorraine Ciccotosto clearly put a lot of time and effort in reviewing this case and reviewing the evidence closely. Her explanation was clear and showed that she understood the issues. As an arbitrator myself, I want Lorraine to know that her effort is very much appreciated."

Thank you, Arbitrator Lorraine Ciccotosto!

"The arbitrator did a nice job of taking in all the facts that were presented and making a fair and impartial decision. She was very diligent in examining all the information presented and realized that the party didn't prove its case or its damages."

Thank you, Arbitrator Kimberly Montgomery!

"It looks like he took quite a bit of time to go through and look at all the evidence that I submitted when making a decision. He seemed to really consider everything that was submitted."

Thank you, Arbitrator Dan Streelman!

"The way that the decision was written by the arbitrator and the thoroughness of the arbitrator in looking at the evidence presented — that was great."

Thank you, Arbitrator Jennifer Mixson!

"Actually, the explanations of their decisions are good. They're specific, and they have good reasoning behind them. When I get any kind of results back, whether it's in my favor, the reasoning behind it is very sound."

Thank you, all arbitrators!!

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