Insurance lawyers have to understand how the statute of limitations is looked at by the courts. Here is a 2023 opinion from the Fort Worth Court of Appeals. The opinion is styled, Erica Quinn v. State farm Lloyds, et al.
A statute of limitations establishes a time limit for suing in a civil case. A statute of limitations operates as an affirmative defense to a cause of action.
A statute of limitations begins to run on the accrual date, which is the date that the cause of action accrues. Generally, a cause of action accrues when facts giving rise to the cause of action come into existence, even if those facts are not discovered, or the resulting injuries do not occur, until later.
The discovery rule is a narrow exception to the general rule that a cause of action accrues when facts giving rise to it come into existence. This rule, which “is only applied in exceptional cases,” defers the accrual date until the claimant discovers, or reasonably should have discovered, the facts giving rise to the cause of action.
The discovery rule only applies to a cause of action if (1) the injury incurred is inherently undiscoverable and (2) the evidence of the injury is objectively verifiable. “An injury is inherently undiscoverable if it is by nature unlikely to be discovered within the prescribed limitations period despite due diligence.” Whether an injury is inherently undiscoverable is determined categorically. Thus, the analysis focuses on the class of injury and whether someone is likely to discover, through reasonable diligence, the type of injury sustained within the limitations period—not whether a specific plaintiff is likely to discover, through reasonable diligence, its particular injury.
A defendant who moves for summary judgment based on the statute of limitations bears the burden of proving when the cause of action accrued. The plaintiff may plead the discovery rule in response to a limitations defense, but the defendant need not negate the discovery rule to prove when the cause of action accrued unless the plaintiff pleads it, If the plaintiff pleads the discovery rule, the defendant may disprove it by proving that (1) it does not apply or (2) it applies but summary judgment evidence demonstrates that the plaintiff discovered, or reasonably should have discovered, its injury within the limitations period.
The above is what courts would like to when the statute of limitations is at issue. The opinion in this Quinn case is lengthy and a read of the case will show how the courts applied the above cited law to the facts of this case.