Determining Occurrence for Injury Under Commercial General Liability Policy Without Applying “Trigger Theory”

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An occurrence will be deemed to occur when the accident causing the injury occurred, as defined by the policy.

July 19, 2021
David Adelstein - Florida Construction Legal Updates

Oftentimes an occurrence in a commercial general liability policy is defined as “an accident, including continuous or repeated exposure to substantially the same general harmful conditions.” It is this occurrence that causes the bodily injury or property damage that may be covered by the policy.

An interesting non-construction case determined an occurrence under a commercial general liability policy occurred when the negligent act occurred irrespective of the date of discovery or the date the claim was discovered or asserted. See Certain Underwriters at Lloyd’s, London Subscribing to Policy No. J046137 v. Pierson, 46 Fla.L.Weekly D1288c (Fla. 4thDCA 2021). This is interesting because the appellate court did NOT apply a “trigger theory” to first determine the occurrence’s policy period. The appellate court found it did not need to determine which “trigger theory” applied to determine the occurrence for the injury and relied on a cited case: “trigger theories are generally used in the context of deciding when damage occurred ‘in cases involving progressive damages, such as latent defects, toxic spills, and asbestosis’ because the time between the ‘injury-causing event (such as defective construction, a fuel leak, or exposure to asbestos), the injury itself, and the injury’s discovery or manifestation can be so far apart.” Pierson, supra, citing and quoting Spartan Petroleum Co. v. Federated Mut. Ins. Co., 162 F.3d 805, 808 (4th Cir. 1998).

Mr. Adelstein may be contacted at dma@kirwinnorris.com



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