After AABS receives the response form, AABS will assign a staff member called a Case Management Officer (CMO) to the file. The CMO is your main contact at AABS for your case.
Goals: The goals of the case conference are to:
- help the parties reach a settlement;
- help the parties exchange information, so they have a clear understanding of what each party wants and what each party may wish to use as evidence;
- help the parties understand what might happen if the case goes to a hearing; and
- plan the hearing, if it is still necessary.
Schedule: The CMO will schedule a one-hour case conference for the parties to meet with an AABS adjudicator. Case conferences will usually take place within 45-60 days of the response being received. The case conference will usually take place by telephone unless you ask or are told it will be held in person. The CMO will send the case conference details to all parties.
Participants: Everyone who needs to be there to help settle the case should participate in the case conference. The injured person and the insurance company must both participate in the case conference, even if they have a representative.
A case conference is led by an AABS adjudicator. The adjudicator guides and supports the parties in working to resolve the dispute. The adjudicator is trained to understand accident disputes and will provide his or her view on what would happen if the case went to a hearing.
Disclosure: Once the case conference is scheduled, the Case Management Officer (CMO) from AABS will send a Case Conference Summary Form to both parties.
You must complete the Case Conference Summary Form. The form asks for details about documents that may be relevant to your case, possible witnesses and what other evidence you may have.
You must send a copy of the completed Case Conference Summary Form, and any relevant documents you have to the other party. Exchanging this information is called disclosure. Disclosure helps you and the other side understand your differences and may provide information that is needed to settle the case.
For more information about disclosure of documents and witnesses, see Rule 9 of the Licence Appeal Tribunal (LAT) Rules of Practice.
Each party must send their Case Conference Summary Form and attachments, including information about the most recent settlement offer, to AABS, and also to the other party, at least 10 days before the scheduled case conference.
What happens at a Case Conference:
Most case conferences will be on the phone, The AABS adjudicator leads the case conference which is informal and confidential. The adjudicator will have read the Case Conference Summary Forms and the offers to settle. The adjudicator will try to narrow the differences between the parties by asking questions and explaining how the SABS have been applied in other cases that were similar. Sometimes, the adjudicator may meet individually with just the claimant or just the insurance company, as a way of encouraging a settlement. If you and the insurance company cannot settle the case, the adjudicator may make decisions and give you instructions to prepare for a hearing. The adjudicators has the power to end the case at the case conference if it does not fall within the legal responsibility of AABS. The adjudicator can also order one or both parties to complete steps, exchange information or pay costs.
The discussions are not recorded, and the adjudicator will not let the next adjudicator know about your confidential discussions. The only documents that go forward to the next adjudicator are those documents that both parties may agree to send forward, and any orders by the adjudicator to direct how the hearing will be held, or to decide any preliminary issues. The adjudicator that leads the hearing won’t be the same one who leads the case conference.
AABS hearings are only held if the mandatory case conference does not result in an agreement between the parties.
Schedule: All parties will receive a ‘Notice of Hearing’ from the Case Management Officer (CMO), which will include the date, time and location (if it is in person) of the hearing. The date of the hearing will be within 60-90 days after the case conference. Sometimes, if the hearing is expected to be long, the case conference adjudicator may use the end of the case conference to schedule dates for the hearing to make sure there is enough time set aside.
AABS hearings can happen in writing, electronically (by videoconference or teleconference), in-person, or by any mix of these methods.
At the beginning of the hearing, the hearing adjudicator will again see if the parties have enough information to settle the case. If they do not, the hearing will go ahead. After the end of a hearing, the hearing adjudicator will make a final decision about the case, which will usually be sent to the parties later as a written decision. The Tribunal decisions are legally binding and must be followed by both the claimant and the insurance company.
Participants: The participants in an AABS hearing include:
- The adjudicator;
- The injured person (in most cases, this is the claimant);
- A representative of the insurance company;
- Any representatives of the participants (lawyer, paralegal or other representative),
- Interpreters if required (for persons who require language interpretation or sign language interpretation); and
- Support persons, if needed.
Hearings are open to the public unless the adjudicator decides that all or part of the hearing should be closed, for privacy reasons allowed by law.
What happens at an AABS Hearing:
An AABS hearing is a legal proceeding led by an independent adjudicator. The claimant and the insurance company each state their understanding of the case and the important issues. They will use evidence (documents, witnesses etc.) to present their position.
The adjudicator who leads the hearing will not be the same adjudicator as at the case conference, and will not know what happened at the case conference so you will need to explain what has happened from the beginning.
The next sections describe typical hearing activities in more detail.
The Role of the Adjudicator
The adjudicator controls the hearing. Parties must follow the directions of the adjudicator during the hearing. Adjudicators are neutral and independent; they cannot provide legal advice to either party. Adjudicators will often ask questions during the hearing, as the claimant and the insurance company present evidence to support their positions.
The adjudicator considers all of the evidence and everything the parties say, and then makes a decision based upon the evidence and the law. The decision is delivered later to the parties in writing and it will include reasons to explain the result.
The Role of the Parties
Everyone participating in the hearing is expected to be courteous and respectful of the adjudicator and of each other, which includes not interrupting anyone who is speaking. The person who started the case presents their position first, and then the other party has their turn.
During the hearing, the injured person and the insurance company, or their representatives, will explain their position to the adjudicator, question witnesses and introduce documents as evidence. The parties can make arguments about the facts and the law.
What is Evidence?
Evidence is documents or things that the adjudicator accepts as part of what the adjudicator can consider in deciding the case. Evidence is also the testimony of witnesses – that is, what witnesses say at the hearing. Evidence from witnesses can also be contained in a document called an affidavit. In an affidavit, the witness swears or affirms that the information they state is the truth.
What “things” can be evidence?
Examples of evidence in a motor vehicle accident case may include the police accident report, or a medical report from a doctor, physiotherapist or other type of medical professional.
Who is a witness?
A witness is someone with personal knowledge about the events. A person can be their own witness and testify at the hearing. The adjudicator will ask witnesses to make an affirmation or swear an oath that they will tell the truth. Persons who are called by one party to testify as a witnesses may be questioned by the other party – this is called cross-examination. The Tribunal’s adjudicator may also ask questions to any witness.
Who can be an expert witness?
An expert witness is a person who can provide technical information or an opinion at the hearing. The tribunal can decide who is an expert witness, based on their experience. In accident cases, doctors who examined you after the accident are often expert witnesses.
What is an expert report?
Parties must exchange information about their expert evidence. This information is usually set out in written reports or witness statements, and called “expert reports”. These reports provide a summary of what the expert will say and explain briefly why they believe they are right.
What kinds of documents can be evidence?
A document can be a piece of paper with typed, printed or handwritten information. A document can be an invoice, estimate, letter, notice, photograph, video, advertisement, report, agreement, contract, etc.
If the document is stored electronically, everyone involved in the case has to be able to access it, so you may have to provide printed copies, or a copy in electronic format.
Do I need to call a witness to “prove” a document?
The parties can agree that a document is real without calling a witness to prove it. If the parties do not agree that the document is real, you may need to have a witness “prove” the document. The witness must testify and give details about when the witness prepared, received, sent, obtained or found the document. For example in an accident case, if you have a physiotherapist’s report, and the insurance company does not believe it is real, you may have to send a witness summons Forms to the physiotherapist to have that person come to say they prepared the document and it is real.
Do I have to give AABS original documents?
Sometimes you have to give an original to the adjudicator to show that the document has not been changed or that everything on a photocopy shows up properly. If you are using a copy of a document, a witness will need to testify that the copy is a true copy without any changes, additions to, or deletions from the original.