As we have duly noted many times in prior select posts, insurance-related litigation can be exceedingly nuanced and complex, often focusing on technical language, differing interpretations of "what happened" in a matter, the actual causes underlying or triggering an event under a policy and additional considerations.
One recent case decided on appeal in one of the nation's federal appellate courts focused in precisely on one of those additional matters, bringing a notable conclusion to an insurance coverage dispute.
The matter involved home damage allegedly sustained in a flood, with a couple seeking payment from Allstate Insurance Co. for their losses.
The insurer denied the claim, and the couple filed a lawsuit in state court. Because flood insurance claims are governed exclusively under federal law, the case was subsequently removed to a federal venue.
At trial, the couple prevailed, with the court issuing a finding against Allstate.
Their victory was temporary, though, given that it was accompanied by a fatal flaw in their case, namely the tardy filing of their claim.
It cannot reasonably be said that the homeowners were blindsided by an appellate court's reversal of the lower-court ruling in their favor. As noted in a legal publication's analysis of the case, "federal law unequivocally states that flood insurance claims must be brought in federal court within one year after a claim is denied."
In fact, the homeowners had already missed that statute of limitations cut-off point by several months when the case was first removed to federal court.
Although the outcome might seem harsh to some, courts routinely insist upon strict adherence to statutory time bars in legal matters, given their importance in expediting matters and otherwise promoting integrity and consistency in the judicial system.
Insurers with questions or concerns regarding statutes of limitation applicable in an insurance matter can contact an experienced insurance defense attorney for answers and, when necessary, diligent legal representation.