My Case Has No Answer: What Do I Do?

When hearing a case with no answer, remember there are no default judgments in arbitration (Rule 4-1): The filing company does not automatically win the case if there is no answer.

Arbitration is designed to expedite resolution, which is why it does not include formal rules of evidence like litigation. A “no answer” case should be heard like any other case, using the preponderance of evidence standard to make the decision.

The filing company does not need to provide indisputable proof, i.e., the only possible explanation of what happened, but needs only to show its factual explanation is more likely true than any other alternative explanations. Alternative explanations do not need to be ruled out for the filing company to prove its case. Many cases are decided on circumstantial evidence, and what matters is whether or not the totality of submitted evidence proves the case.

As an example, imagine the filing company has filed a hit-and-run case, and the Respondent did not answer. If the filing company provided a statement from its insured, and the statement is credible, it should be accepted as an accurate account of what occurred, because there is no argument from the Respondent to challenge it. The total evidence submitted, including the statement, may be enough to prove a prima facie or “minimum standard” case: that there was a duty owed, that the Respondent breached the duty, that the breach of duty by the Respondent was the proximate cause of the accident/occurrence, and that damages resulted. Evidence other than a witness statement can be sufficient to prove the Respondent’s involvement, such as a police report, a 911 call record, damage photos showing paint transfer that matches the color of the Respondent’s vehicle, etc.