Arbitrations for a Car Accident Case in Pennsylvania

Penn State Law offers information on arbitrations news in Pennsylvania.  One way to resolve a car accident case without the delays of the court system is to use an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process.  Arbitration is one such mechanism.  Arbitration for a car accident case may be done privately or be court administered.  If court administered, the decisions of the arbitrators may be nonbinding.  This means if the parties do not like the arbitrator’s decision, there is a procedure for appeal to put the case back where it was before the arbitration hearing.  If done privately, the parties may decide that the arbitrators’ decisions be binding.  This means the parties will go with whatever the arbitrators decide, and not be allowed to litigate the matter even if the parties do not like the decision.

After entry of the arbitration award for a court administered arbitration, any party may demand a trial de novo after notice of the arbitration award.  Trial de novo means the arbitration decision is stricken as if the arbitration never occurred.  The decision has not precedential value to the ultimate decision in the case.  There may be costs penalties if the judgment on the trial de novo is not more favorable than the arbitration award.  If no written request for a trial de novo, the arbitration award becomes final.

Arbitrators may be practicing attorneys or retired judges.  For instance, personal injury attorneys may be on the panel for people to choose from.  For court administered arbitrations, arbitrators may serve pro bono or modest means basis.  People usually cannot contact judicial arbitrators about their qualifications or anything else except for administrative matters such as setting the time and place.  The judicial arbitrator must disclose any personal or professional relations with the parties, attorneys in the case.

Judicial arbitration in Pennsylvania is different from contractual arbitration where parties agree to use arbitration instead of the courts to settle a dispute.  In contractual arbitration, if a party were to file a lawsuit, the other party could stop the lawsuit with the contract provision that they agreed to arbitration.  A judicial arbitration award is usually not final.

There is generally no right to discovery in contractual arbitration.  This decreases the costs of a lawsuit.  Judicial arbitration usually permits discovery.  Each party must deliver to the other party copies of the evidence planned to be presented to the judicial arbitrator.  For judicial arbitrations, hearings may not be transcribed, and may not be used by parties as evidence even if they were.  The arbitrator need not make any findings of fact or conclusions of law.

The evidence rules governing civil cases apply in judicial arbitration.  The arbitration must make a decision in accordance with the law.  The arbitrator’s powers similar to those of any trial judge, such as being able to administer oaths, adjourn hearings, rule on admissibility of evidence, decide the case, and make an award including statutory costs.

Sadly, auto accidents happen every day.  Contact experienced Pennsylvania accident attorneys to help you or a loved one obtain full compensation for a car crash.