Continuing with my nuts and bolts series on the statute of limitations, I’ve selected the boot of the Gulf Coast states, Louisiana. Louisiana has been hit hard in past years by the likes of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Ike, and other named wonders of weather. Due to the numerous claims made in recent years, Louisiana enacted special legislation to extend the limitations periods at times. The Louisiana legislature extended the time for instituting a judicial action against an insurer seeking recovery for property damages arising out of Hurricane Katrina to 1 September 2007, at the very latest, or forever be barred from doing so. The only exception the Legislature provided to the filing deadlines set forth in Acts 802 and 739 was if the contract or the parties (Acts 802) or the law (Act 739) provided for a later date for the filing of an action. With various Acts created to help claimants deal with losses, it’s important to make mental note of the Louisiana limitations.
Please note that our friends in the bayou refer to “limitation” as “prescription.” Here are a few statutes and rulings that may help navigate the prescriptions puzzle in Louisiana.
First: Prescription begins to run from the date of the loss. La. C.C. art. 3454; Gremillion v. Travelers Indemnity Company, 256 La. 974, 984, 240 So.2d 727, 731 (La.1970).
Second: Prescription may be defeated if it can be shown that the period was interrupted or that the right to plead prescription was renounced. See Lima v. Schmidt, 595 So.2d 624 (La.1992). “Prescription is interrupted when one acknowledges the right of the person against whom he had commenced to prescribe.” See La. C.C. art. 3464.
Third: Pursuant to La. C.C. art. 3467, “[p]rescription runs against all persons unless exception is established by legislation.” In response to the wide-spread property damage occasioned to property owners during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the Louisiana Legislature established such an exception by enacting Act 802, an uncodified law.
Fourth: There is no tolling of prescription during the investigation. Wagner v. Meeks, 730 So. 2d 1058 (La. App. 1999).
Fifth: Prescriptions period for bad faith claims is ten years. La. Rev. Stat. Ann. §3499.
Sixth: Prescription can be extended by a contractual agreement between the parties; however prescriptions of less than one year are not allowed. La. Rev. Stat. Ann. §22:629.