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Personal Injury 101: Tips for a No-Fault Arbitration
Benjamin Kline, Esq. Jun 29, 2020 12:00:00 AM
When it comes to motor vehicle accidents, Minnesota is a “no-fault” state. In other words, your insurance company is responsible for up to $20,000 of your medical and other accident-related expenses, regardless of who is “at-fault” or responsible for causing the accident. Sounds easy, right? But, in the course of processing your claim, it is common for your insurance company to dispute or outright refuse to pay some of your medical bills. These denials often come on the heels of an Independent Medical Examination. When the insurance company stops paying, the first line of defense is the No-Fault Arbitration.
What is it?
A No-Fault Arbitration is a semi-formal hearing in which an arbitrator hears a dispute between you and your insurance company and then decides how it can be resolved. Arbitrators are chosen by the the American Arbitration Association (AAA) from a panel of lawyers appointed by the Minnesota Supreme Court. Arbitrators have extensive experience practicing personal injury law and dealing with No-Fault claims. Hearings are typically held in person at the office of the arbitrator, but currently they are being conducted over the phone or by video conference while concerns still exist regarding COVID-19.
Your attorney will be with you for the hearing, as well as an attorney for the insurance company. Beforehand, your legal team will provide the arbitrator with a booklet which includes evidence of your claim and a legal argument explaining why the arbitrator should rule in your favor. Your legal team will also prep with you beforehand, so you know what to expect. The hearing itself typically starts with a discussion between the arbitrator and attorneys regarding the specific issues and evidence of your case. Then your attorney will you ask you some questions about your accident, injuries, and treatment. Afterwards, the insurance and attorney and the arbitrator will have a chance to ask you questions. Finally, each attorney will make a closing argument. The arbitrator will then take up to 30 days to consider the arguments of both sides and issue a decision. Your attorney will contact you to review the outcome, along with any benefits that may have been awarded.
What is it not?
Although the arbitrator’s decision about your dispute is final and binding, a No-Fault Arbitration is not a highly formal “day in court.” The rules of procedure and evidence that govern a typical court hearing do not apply in an arbitration, and the arbitrator will decide what evidence they believe to be important. However, despite a lower level of formality, in the vast majority of No-Fault cases, arbitration is the only opportunity to have a payment dispute decided by a neutral decisionmaker. It is therefore important to remain cordial, direct, and confident in your behavior. While you will likely be asked to provide testimony, this is not a time to air personal grievances against another driver, their insurance company, your insurance company, or the police.
What should I do?
Prepare, prepare, prepare! The testimony you provide in a No-Fault Arbitration will form the foundation of your legal arguments to the arbitrator. It is extremely important to be honest and credible in the answers you give. Sometimes, the details of your accident or even the treatment you have received may not be fresh in your mind. In order to avoid any guessing or inconsistencies, it is best practice to review the facts of your case, any prior statements you have made, accident scene photos, and your treatment history with your attorney in order to correctly relay this information to the arbitrator during the hearing.
Contact an attorney
Motor vehicle accidents involve a lot of unfamiliar procedures and pitfalls. If you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident, please call our office at 651-493-0426 to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced personal injury attorneys.