The First Chamber of Mexico’s Supreme Court of Justice (the “First Chamber”) issued a decision confirming that regarding damage insurance cases, when an accident occurs causing the death of a person, the statute of limitations to file a claim against the insurance company is not the two-year term established by the law but the five-year term that the law provides for to bring a lawsuit in life insurance cases.

The First Chamber came to the above conclusion by studying a case where an insurance company issued -to a highway operator- a policy covering the damages that users of such highway might cause to third-parties passing by the road. A passerby was killed by a highway’s user. The passerby’s beneficiaries brought a claim against the insurance entity to collect an amount of money.

A lower commercial court ruled in favor of the beneficiaries. The insurance company filed a constitutional trial to combat the lower court’s decision. The federal court that reviewed the case ruled in favor of the insurance entity on the grounds that the beneficiaries filed the claim after the two-year statute of limitations that the insurance contract law provides for in damage insurance cases.

The First Chamber overturned the federal court’s judgment because in its opinion the two-year statute of limitations established by the law for damage insurance cases shall noy apply where the damage caused is a person’s life. In such case, the longer statute of limitations of five years to bring a claim in life insurance disputes shall apply for equity purposes.

The above because according to the First Chamber in both the damage insurance and the life insurance, what the law seeks to protect is that if a death occurs, the beneficiaries and dependents of the deceased are not left helpless.

Below you will find the First Chamber’s decision (in Spanish).

By Antonio Cervantes Acosta

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