DEFINITION of ‘Injury-In-Fact Trigger’
A coverage trigger theory that states that an insurance policy coverage activates when an injury or damage actually occurs. An injury-in-fact trigger is used when courts find it difficult to pinpoint the exact time that an injury or damage occurs.
It is sometimes referred to as actual injury trigger,
BREAKING DOWN ‘Injury-In-Fact Trigger’
Policyholders that seek to recover losses by filing a claim have to prove how and when the loss occurred. In some cases, this may be straightforward with a single, identifiable event leading to the loss occurring. In other cases, it may be difficult to ascertain when an injury or damage occurred, especially if the injury developed over a period of time. Courts use trigger theories in working through these complex situations.
In insurance parlance, a trigger is an event that activates coverage. Courts typically look to the four established trigger theories when making a determination. In addition to the injury-in-fact trigger, there is also exposure trigger, manifestation trigger, and continuous trigger.
In the case of an injury-in-fact trigger, an occurrence is often said to have taken place when the claimant was injured, not when the wrongful act was committed. For example, a company spills hazardous waste into a local river in March 2010. The waste eventually makes its way into the drinking system several months later, and a family becomes ill after drinking it. The injury-in-fact trigger would be the time when the family became ill, not when the company spilled the chemicals.
In general liability policies, injury-in-fact triggers are said to apply when the injury or damage actually takes place, even if the injury or damage continues over a series of time. In this way, it is similar to a continuous trigger theory, though continuous trigger theory states that coverage is triggered when the claimant is exposed, actually injured, or the damage manifests itself.