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"Minnesota No-Fault, Comprehensive or Collisions Damage Automobile Insurance Arbitration Rules"


July 2004

Minnesota No-Fault, Comprehensive or Collisions Damage Automobile Insurance Arbitration Rules

Amended and Effective July 1, 2004

Rule 1.

1. The purpose of the Minnesota no-fault arbitration system is to promote the orderly and efficient administration of justice in this State. To this end, the Court, pursuant to Minn. Stat. ¤65B.525 and in the exercise of its rule making responsibilities, does hereby adopt these rules. These rules are intended to implement the Minnesota No-Fault Act.

2. The Arbitration under Minn. Stat. 65B.525 shall be administered by a Standing Committee of 12 members to be appointed by the Minnesota Supreme Court. Initially, the 12 members shall be appointed for terms to commence January 1, 1975, and the Supreme Court shall designate three such members for a one-year term, three for a two-year term, three for a three-year term, and three for a four-year term commencing on January 1 of each succeeding year. After July 1, 1988, no member shall

3. The day-to-day administration of arbitration under Minn. Stat. 65B.525 shall be by an arbitration organization designated by the Standing Committee with the concurrence of the Supreme Court. The administration shall be subject to the continuing supervision of the Standing Committee.

Rule 2. Appointment of Arbitrator

The Standing Committee may conditionally approve and submit to the arbitration organization nominees to the panel of arbitrators quarterly in March, June, September and December of each year, commencing March 1988. These nominees then may be included in the panel of arbitrators that the Standing Committee shall nominate annually for approval by the Supreme Court. The panel appointed by the Supreme Court shall be certified by the Standing Committee to the arbitration organization.

Rule 3. Name of Tribunal

Any tribunal constituted by the parties for the settlement of their dispute under these rules shall be called the Minnesota No-Fault Arbitration Tribunal.

Rule 4. Administrator

When parties agree to arbitrate under these rules, or when they provide for arbitration by the arbitration organization and an arbitration is initiated thereunder, they thereby constitute the arbitration organization the administrator of the arbitration.

Rule 5. Initiation of Arbitration

(a) Mandatory Arbitration (for claims of $10,000 or less at the commencement of arbitration). At such time as the respondent denies a claim, the respondent shall advise the claimant of claimant's right to demand arbitration.

(b) Nonmandatory Arbitration (for claims over $10,000). At such time as the respondent denies a claim, the respondent shall advise the claimant whether or not it is willing to submit the claim to arbitration.

(c) All Cases. In all cases the respondent shall also advise the claimant that information on arbitration procedures may be obtained from the arbitration organization, giving the arbitration organization's current address. On request, the arbitration organization will provide a claimant with a petition form for initiating arbitration together with a copy of these rules. Arbitration is commenced by the filing of the signed, executed form, together with the required filing fee, with the arbitration organization. If the claimant asserts a claim against more than one insurer, claimant shall so designate upon the arbitration petition. In the event that a respondent claims or asserts that another insurer bears some or all of the responsibility for the claim, respondent shall file a petition identifying the insurer and setting forth the amount of the claim that it claims is the responsibility of another insurer. Regardless of the number of respondents identified on the claim petition, the claim is subject to the jurisdictional limits set forth in Rule 6.

(d) Denial of Claim. If a respondent fails to respond in writing within 30 days after reasonable proof of the fact and the amount of loss is duly presented to the respondent, the claim shall be deemed denied for the purpose of activating these rules.

(e) Itemization of Claim. At the time of filing the arbitration form, or within 30 days after, the claimant shall file an itemization of benefits claimed and supporting documentation. Medical and replacement services claims must detail the names of providers, dates of services claimed, and total amounts owing. Income-loss claims must detail employers, rates of pay, dates of loss, method of calculation, and total amounts owing.

(f) Insurer's Response. Within 30 days after receipt of the itemization of benefits claimed and supporting documentation from claimant, respondent shall serve a response to the petition setting forth all grounds upon which the claim is denied and accompanied by all documents supporting denial of the benefits claimed.

Rule 6. Jurisdiction in Mandatory Cases

By statute, mandatory arbitration applies to all claims for no-fault benefits or comprehensive or collision damage coverage where the total amount of the claim, at the commencement of arbitration, is in an amount of $10,000 or less. In cases where the amount of the claim continues to accrue after the petition is filed, the arbitrator shall have jurisdiction to determine all amounts claimed including those in excess of $10,000. If the claimant waives a portion of the claim in order to come within the $10,000 jurisdictional limit, the claimant must specify within thirty (30) days of filing the claims in excess of the $10,000 being waived.

Rule 7. Notice

Upon the filing of the petition form by either party, the arbitration organization shall send a copy of the petition to the other party together with a request for payment of the filing fee. The responding party will then have 20 days to notify the arbitration organization of the name of counsel, if any.

Rule 8. Selection of Arbitrator and Challenge Procedure

The arbitration organization shall send simultaneously to each party to the dispute an identical list of four names of persons chosen from the panel. Each party to the dispute shall have seven business days from the mailing date in which to cross out a maximum of one name objected to, number the remaining names in order of preference and return the list to the arbitration organization. In the event of multiparty arbitration, the arbitration organization may increase the number of potential arbitrators and divide the strikes so as to afford an equal number of strikes to each adverse interest. If a party does not return the list within the time specified, all persons named therein shall be deemed acceptable. One of the persons who has been approved on both lists shall be invited by the arbitration organization to serve in accordance with the designated order of the mutual preference. Any objection to an arbitrator based on the arbitrator’s post-appointment disclosure must be made within seven business days from the mailing date of the arbitrator disclosure form. Failure to object to the appointed arbitrator based upon the post-appointment disclosure within seven business days constitutes waiver of any objections based on the post-appointment disclosure. An objection to a potential arbitrator shall be determined initially by the arbitration organization, subject to appeal to the Standing Committee. If an acceptable arbitrator is unable to act, or for any other reason the appointment cannot be made from the submitted list, the arbitration organization shall have the power to make the appointment from among other members of the panel without the submission of additional lists. If any arbitrator should resign, be disqualified or unable to perform the duties of the office, the arbitration organization shall appoint another arbitrator from the no-fault panel to the case.

Rule 9. Notice to Arbitrator of Appointment

Notice of the appointment of the neutral arbitrator, whether appointed mutually by the parties or by the arbitration organization, shall be mailed to the arbitrator by the arbitration organization, together with a copy of these rules, and the signed acceptance of the arbitrator shall be filed with the arbitration organization prior to the opening of the first hearing.

Rule 10. Qualification of Arbitrator and Disclosure Procedure

Every member of the panel shall be a licensed attorney at law of this state or a retired attorney or judge in good standing. Effective January 1, 2004, requirements for qualification as an arbitrator shall be: (1) at least 5 years in practice in this state; (2) at least one-third of the attorney’s practice is with auto insurance claims or, for an attorney not actively representing clients, at least one-third of an ADR practice is with motor vehicle claims or no-fault matters; (3) completion of an arbitrator training program approved by the No-fault Standing Committee prior to appointment to the panel; (4) at least three CLE hours on no-fault issues within their reporting period; and (5) arbitrators will be required to re-certify each year, confirming at the time of recertification that they continue to meet the above requirements. No person shall serve as an arbitrator in any arbitration in which he or she has a financial or personal conflict of interest, whether actual or potential. Under procedures established by the Standing Committee and immediately following appointment to the panel, each member shall be required to disclose any circumstances likely to create a presumption or possibility of bias or conflict that may disqualify the person as a potential arbitrator. Each member shall supplement the disclosures as circumstances require. The following facts, in and of themselves, do not create a presumption of bias or conflict of interest: That an attorney or the attorney's firm represents auto accident claimants against insurance companies, including the insurance company which is the respondent in the pending matter. That an attorney or an attorney's firm represents or has represented insurance companies.

Rule 11. Vacancies

If for any reason an arbitrator should be unable to perform the duties of the office, the arbitration organization may, on proof satisfactory to it, declare the office vacant. Vacancies shall be filed in accordance with the applicable provisions of these rules.

Rule 12. Discovery

The voluntary exchange of information is encouraged. Formal discovery is discouraged except that a party is entitled to:

1. exchange of medical reports;

2. medical authorizations directed to all medical providers consulted by the claimant in the seven years prior to the accident;

3. employment records and authorizations for two years prior to the accident, when wage loss is in dispute;

4. supporting documentation required under No-Fault Arbitration Rule 5; and

5. other exhibits to be offered at the hearing.

However, upon application and good cause shown by any party, the arbitrator may permit any discovery allowable under the Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure for the District Courts. Any medical examination for which the respondent can establish good cause shall be completed within 90 days following the commencement of the case unless extended by the arbitrator for good cause.

Rule 13. Withdrawal

A claimant may withdraw a petition up until ten (10) days prior to the hearing. The claimant will be responsible for the arbitrator's fee, if any, upon withdrawal. If the petition is withdrawn after a panel of arbitrators is submitted and if the claimant shall file another petition arising from the same accident against the same insurer, the same panel of arbitrators shall be resubmitted to the claimant and the respondent. If the petition is withdrawn after the arbitrator is selected and if the claimant shall file another petition arising from the same accident against the same insurer, the same arbitrator who was earlier assigned shall be reassigned. The claimant who withdraws a petition shall be responsible for all parties' filing fees incurred upon the refiling of the petition.

Rule 14. Time and Place of Arbitration

An informal arbitration hearing will be held in the arbitrator's office or some other appropriate place in the general locale within a 50-mile radius of the claimant's residence, or other place agreed upon by the parties. If the claimant resides outside of the state of Minnesota, arbitration organization shall designate the appropriate place for the hearing. The arbitrator shall fix the time and place for the hearing. At least 14 days prior to the hearing, the arbitration organization shall mail notice thereof to each party or to a party's designated representative. Notice of hearing may be waived by any party. When an arbitration hearing has been scheduled for a day certain, the courts of the state shall recognize the date as the equivalent of a day certain court trial date in the scheduling of their calendars.

Rule 15. Postponements

The arbitrator, for good cause shown, may postpone any hearing upon the request of a party or upon the arbitrator's own initiative, and shall also grant such postponement when all of the parties agree thereto.

Rule 16. Representation

Any party may be represented by counsel or other representative named by that party. A party intending to be so represented shall notify the other party and the arbitration organization of the name and address of the representative at least three days prior to the date set for the hearing at which that person is first to appear. When such a representative initiates an arbitration or responds for a party, notice is deemed to have been given.

Rule 17. Stenographic Record

Any party desiring a stenographic record shall make arrangements directly with a stenographer and shall notify the other party of these arrangements at least 24 hours in advance of the hearing. The requesting party or parties shall pay the cost of the record. If the transcript is agreed by the parties to be, or determined by the arbitrator to be, the official record of the proceeding, it must be made available to the arbitrator and to the other parties for inspection, at a date, time and place determined by the arbitrator.

Rule 18. Interpreters

Any party desiring an interpreter shall make all arrangements directly with the interpreter and shall assume the costs of the service. The arbitrator may assess the cost of an interpreter pursuant to Rule 42.

Rule 19. Attendance at Hearing

The arbitrator shall maintain the privacy of the hearings. Any person having a direct interest in the arbitration is entitled to attend hearings. The arbitrator shall otherwise have the power to require the exclusion of any witness, other than a party or other essential person, during the testimony of any other witness.

Rule 20. Oaths

Arbitrators, upon accepting appointment to the panel, shall take an oath or affirmation of office. The arbitrator may require witnesses to testify under oath or affirmation.

Rule 21. Order of Proceedings and Communication with Arbitrator

The hearing shall be opened by the recording of the date, time and place of the hearing, and the presence of the arbitrator, the parties and their representatives, if any. Either party may make an opening statement regarding the claim. The claimant shall then present evidence to support the claim. The respondent shall then present evidence supporting the defense. Witnesses for each party shall submit to questions or other examination. The arbitrator has the discretion to vary this procedure, but shall afford a full and equal opportunity to all parties for the presentation of any material and relevant evidence. Exhibits, when offered by either party, may be received in evidence by the arbitrator.

The names and addresses of all witnesses and description of the exhibits in the order received shall be made part of the record. There shall be no direct communication between the arbitrator and the parties other than at the hearing, unless the parties and the arbitrator agree otherwise. Any other oral or written communication from the parties to the arbitrator shall be directed to the arbitration organization for transmittal to the arbitrator.

Rule 22. Arbitration in the Absence of a Party or Representative

Unless the law provides to the contrary, the arbitration may proceed in the absence of any party or representative who, after due notice, fails to be present or fails to obtain a postponement. An award shall not be made solely on the default of a party. The arbitrator shall require the party who is present to submit such evidence as the arbitrator may require for the making of an award.

Rule 23. Witnesses, Subpoenas and Depositions

(a) Through the arbitration organization, the arbitrator may, on the arbitrator's initiative or at the request of any party, issue subpoenas for the attendance of witnesses at the arbitration hearing or at such deposition as ordered under Rule 12, and the production of books, records, documents and other evidence. The subpoenas so issued shall be served, and upon application to the district court by either party or the arbitrator, enforced in the manner provided by law for the service and enforcement of subpoenas for a civil action.

(b) All provisions of law compelling a person under subpoena to testify are applicable.

(c) Fees for attendance as a witness shall be the same as for a witness in the district courts.

Rule 24. Evidence

The parties may offer such evidence as they desire and shall produce such additional evidence as the arbitrator may deem necessary to an understanding and determination of the issues. The arbitrator shall be the judge of the relevancy and materiality of any evidence offered, and conformity to legal rules of evidence shall not be necessary. The parties shall be encouraged to offer, and the arbitrator shall be encouraged to receive and consider, evidence by affidavit or other document, including medical reports, statements of witnesses, officers, accident reports, medical texts and other similar written documents that would not ordinarily be admissible as evidence in the courts of this state. In receiving this evidence, the arbitrator shall consider any objections to its admission in determining the weight to which he or she deems it is entitled.

Rule 25. Close of Hearing

The arbitrator shall specifically inquire of all parties as to whether they have any further evidence. If they do not, the arbitrator shall declare the hearing closed. If briefs or documents are to be filed, the hearing shall be declared closed as of the final date set by the arbitrator for the receipt of said briefs or documents. The time limit within which the arbitrator is required to make his award shall commence to run upon the close of the hearing.

Rule 26. Re-opening the Hearing

At any time before the award is made, a hearing may be reopened by the arbitrator on the arbitrator's own motion, or upon application of a party for good cause shown.

Rule 27. Waiver of Oral Hearing

The parties may provide, by written agreement, for the waiver of oral hearings in any case. If the parties are unable to agree as to the procedure, the arbitration organization shall specify a fair and equitable procedure.

Rule 28. Extensions of Time

The parties may modify any period of time by mutual agreement. The arbitration organization or the arbitrator may for good cause extend any period of time established by these rules, except the time for making the award. The arbitration organization shall notify the parties of any extension.

Rule 29. Serving of Notice

Each party waives the requirements of Minn. Stat. ¤572.23 and shall be deemed to have agreed that any papers, notices or process necessary or proper for the initiation or continuation of an arbitration under these rules; for any court action in connection herewith including application for the confirmation, vacation, modification or correction of an award issued hereunder as provided in Rule 38; or for the entry of judgment on any award made under these rules may be served on a party by mail or facsimile addressed to the party or its representative at the last known address or by personal service, in or outside the state where the arbitration is to be held, provided that reasonable opportunity to be heard with regard thereto has been granted to the party.

The arbitration organization and the parties may also use facsimile transmission, telex, telegram or other written forms of electronic communication to give the notices required by these rules and to serve process for an application for the confirmation, vacation, modification or correction of an award issued hereunder.

Rule 30. Time of Award

The award shall be made promptly by the arbitrator, unless otherwise agreed by the parties or specified by law, no later than 30 days from the date of closing the hearing, or if oral hearings have been waived, from the date of the arbitration organization's transmittal of the final statements and proofs to the arbitrator.

Rule 31. Form of Award

The award shall be in writing and shall be signed by the arbitrator. It shall be executed in the manner required by law.

Rule 32. Scope of Award

The arbitrator may grant any remedy or relief that the arbitrator deems just and equitable consistent with the Minnesota No-Fault Act. The arbitrator may, in the award, include arbitration fees, expenses, rescheduling fees and compensation as provided in sections 39, 40, 41 and 42 in favor of any party and, in the event that any administrative fees or expenses are due the arbitration organization, in favor of the arbitration organization, except that the arbitrator must award interest when required by Minn. Stat. 65B.54. The arbitrator may not, in the award, include attorneys fees for either party.

Given the informal nature of no-fault arbitration proceedings, the no-fault award shall not be the basis for a claim of estoppel or waiver in any other proceeding.

Rule 33. Delivery of Award to Parties

Parties shall accept as legal delivery of the award the placing of the award or a true copy thereof in the mail, addressed to a party or its representative at the last known address, personal service of the award, or the filing of the award in any other manner that is permitted by law.

Rule 34. Waiver of Rules

Any party who proceeds with the arbitration after knowledge that any provision or requirement of these rules has not been complied with and who fails to state an objection thereto in writing shall be deemed to have waived the right to object.

Rule 35. Interpretation and Application of Rules

The arbitrator shall interpret and apply these rules insofar as they relate to the arbitrator's powers and duties. All other rules shall be interpreted by the arbitration organization.

Rule 36. Release of Documents for Judicial Proceedings

The arbitration organization shall, upon the written request of a party, furnish to the party, at its expense, certified copies of any papers in the arbitration organization's possession that may be required in judicial proceedings relating to the arbitration.

Rule 37. Applications to Court and Exclusion of Liability

(a) No judicial proceedings by a party relating to the subject matter of the arbitration shall be deemed a waiver of the party's right to arbitrate.

(b) Neither the arbitration organization nor any arbitrator in a proceeding under these rules can be made a witness or is a necessary party in judicial proceedings relating to the arbitration.

(c) Parties to these rules shall be deemed to have consented that judgment upon the arbitration award may be entered in any federal or state court having jurisdiction thereof.

(d Neither the arbitration organization nor any arbitrator shall be liable to any party for any act or omission in connection with any arbitration conducted under these rules.

Rule 38. Confirmation, Vacation, Modification or Correction of Award

The provisions of Minn. Stat. ¤572.10 through ¤572.26 shall apply to the confirmation, vacation, modification or correction of award issued hereunder, except that service of process pursuant to Minn. Stat. ¤572.23 shall be made as provided in Rule 29 of these rules.

Rule 39. Administrative Fees

The initial fee is due and payable at the time of filing and shall be paid as follows: by the claimant, $50.00; by the respondent, $160.00. In the event that there is more than one respondent in an action, each respondent shall pay the $160.00 fee.

The arbitration organization may, in the event of extreme hardship on the part of any party, defer or reduce the administrative fee.

Rule 40. Arbitrator's Fees

(a) An arbitrator shall be compensated for services and for any use of office facilities in the amount of $300 per case.

(b If the arbitration organization is notified of a settlement or a withdrawal of a claim at any time up to 24 hours prior to the scheduled hearing, but after the appointment of the arbitrator, the arbitrator's fee shall be $50. If the arbitration organization is notified of settlement or a withdrawal of a claim 24 hours or less prior to the scheduled hearing, the arbitrator's fee shall be $300. Unless the parties agree otherwise, the fee in a settlement shall be assessed equally to the parties and the fee in a withdrawal shall be borne by claimant.

(c Once a hearing is commenced, the arbitrator shall direct assessment of the fee.

Rule 41. Rescheduling Fees

A rescheduling fee of $75.00, $125.00, and $175.00 shall be charged against each party requesting a rescheduling for their first, second and additional postponements respectively.

Rule 42. Expenses

Generally each side should pay its own expenses. An arbitrator does, however, have the discretion to direct a party or parties to pay expenses as part of an award.

Rule 43. Amendment or Modification

The Standing Committee may propose amendments to these rules as circumstances may require. All changes in these rules and all other determinations of the Standing Committee shall be subject to review and approval by the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Purpose and Administration