Act of God Defense

When you make a personal injury claim against another party, that party can raise defenses as to why he or she should not be held liable for your injury.  An “act of God” defense is one type of defense that can be raised, but is only applicable in very limited circumstances.  The phrase “act of God” is often used to describe a natural disaster like a tornado, flash flood, earthquake, or a lightning strike.  It usually describes an extreme, unforeseeable event.  For example, say there’s a sudden earthquake that pushes another car into your vehicle while you are driving.  That automobile collision could be considered an “act of God,” such that the other driver cannot be held liable for hitting your vehicle.

When is an “act of God” defense applicable?  Well, only when there have been events entirely outside of human control and there is no foresight or reasonable care that could have prevented the incident.  For example, let’s say someone had been poorly maintaining a structure and then a storm came while you happened to be standing near that structure and it collapsed partially onto you and injured you.  While at first it might appear that an “act of God” caused the structure to suddenly collapse, it only was able to collapse because it had been poorly maintained.  In other words, this incident was not entirely out of a person’s control.  Someone made choices not to maintain the structure, and so it became weak and unstable.  Since the person’s care could have prevented the incident, an “act of God” defense would be inapplicable.

If you think about it, there really aren’t that many situations that don’t involve some kind of human decision-making or control.  That is why the “act of God” defense can be difficult to use in order to avoid liability.  In many cases where an insurance company or defendant tries to use an “act of God” defense, it is a ruse.  If you have been injured in an accident, an experienced attorney can help.  Call today to speak with someone from our legal team.

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