Decision Quality Review: Insights for Arbitrators Q3 2021

As many of you know, this year, AF implemented a new quarterly quality assessment process. The process is intended to measure the overall quality produced by membership and to provide AF feedback on our efforts to partner with membership to improve quality.
The third quarter Decision Quality Review for 2021 is now complete. The review showed improvement for arbitrator performance over the previous two quarters. Arbitrators have been properly addressing jurisdictional exclusions, entering award data correctly, and offering professionally written decisions.

Here are some actionable insights specifically for arbitrators:
  • Address the specific arguments of damage disputes. The Decision Quality Review found that damage decisions often tend to focus on broad, general reasoning for denying or approving reductions. Remember to offer focused comments specific to the challenges raised in the damages section. By addressing the specific arguments made in the challenge to the damages, the decision makes the arbitrator’s reasoning clear to the parties. Also, be sure to discuss the evidence of both parties and how they impacted the damage decision.
  • Provide clear and accurate liability decisions. As in the first quarter, the latest review found that there were “word versus word” decisions that may not have involved consideration of evidence beyond the opposing driver statements in finding liability. Remember to look to all the evidence to see if a preponderance can be found to support one party’s version of the events over another. Also, be sure to proof read decisions before submitting to verify that the facts are correct and that the parties have not been switched.
  • Enter descriptive evidence comments. AF’s quality standard is to offer substantive comments for evidence that the parties embed in their liability arguments. For example, if a party points to the police report in their liability arguments, then typing “Reviewed” or “Reviewed police report” would not be sufficient. Instead, the arbitrator must enter comments that indicate what the evidence showed or told them. In this example we might say, “The police report noted that the XYZ Insurance Company insured ran the red light.”
AF will continue to share these insights after each review with filers, responders, and arbitrators.  The information that we share based on our quarterly review findings is meant to improve the quality of the decisions for all of our membership. AF recognizes the hard work that our member arbitrators put into hearing cases.