In an auto case where a vehicle rear-ends your assured and causes property damage to the assured vehicle, the accrual of the cause of action is the date of the accident. In California, the statute is 3 years for property damage, so you would have 3 years from the date of the accident within which to file suit.
What happens in an underground water leak with an unknown source or cause? What happens with a construction defect whose cause is unknown?
California and other states use the “date of discovery” rule for the accrual of those causes of action.
In layman’s terms, when did the assured know of appreciable harm and the cause of the harm?
Typically in an underground leak, the assured suffers water damage to the home, reports the loss to the carrier, and the carrier hires an expert to investigate the cause of the leak. It is the date of the expert’s report that would be the accrual of the cause of action against a building trade person or a public entity.
In a construction defect setting, it is again the date of your expert’s report identifying the cause of the damage.
1. identify when the assured reported the damage to you.
2. identify when your expert identified the source of the damage and the cause.
3. discuss with your attorney what the statute is in the state of loss.
It is always better to file suit as quickly as possible, to avoid defense arguments that the statute has already run. However, sometimes that is not possible. The discovery rule may save a case that comes to the recovery department later, rather than earlier.