Jen's Tip of the Month
June 20th is the Summer SOLstice. This is when the sun reaches its highest point in the sky and we experience the longest day of the year.
Sometimes claims can seem to go on forever, particularly when the statute of limitations (SOL) is extended longer than the usual two years. There are several circumstances when this can happen.
The most common is when you have a claim involving a minor. The SOL for a minor does not begin to run until the minor reaches age 18. Pursuant to A.R.S. § 12-502, a cause of action does not accrue for an individual who is either under 18 years-old or of "unsound mind" until the person's "disability" is removed. For a minor, we need to add two years from their 18th birthday to calculate when the SOL expires.
The expiration of the SOL for a person of "unsound mind" is much trickier. A plaintiff who misses the two-year deadline must prove that he/she is unable to manage his/her daily affairs or understand his/her legal rights. Generally, the appointment of a guardian or conservator does not prevent the tolling of the SOL period.
The SOL may also be extended for an adult under what is known as the "discovery rule." This occurs when the claimant did not know they had a claim to make, and is most often seen in cases of repressed memory due to physical or emotional trauma. Once the person discovers their injury, the two-year SOL begins to run.
Lastly, you will want to note that a governmental entity, such as a city, county or state, does not have a SOL. In other words, their claim never expires, unless it settles. Watch out for this issue, if your insured damaged property that is owned by a municipality.
If you are concerned about the SOL for one of your claims, give me a call and let's talk about whether your claim will last as long as the Summer SOLstice. Jen 602-234-7805
Jennifer Erickson is a partner with Jennings Haug Cunningham where she continues to practice in the area of insurance defense and coverage. Her client focus is on the education of claims adjusters. Over the years, Jen has designed dozens of training programs and is the founder and lead instructor of Claims University, which provides fun and interactive classes for adjusters at all levels.
If you would like to discuss training needs for your organization, please contact Jen directly at 602-234-7805.
Partner, Jennings Haug Cunningham