Act of God or Negligence?

Posted on April 22, 2013 by John Demas

Act of God vs. Negligence

It is sometimes hard to determine if an accident was the result of an act of God, the neglect of a responsible party, or a mixture of both things. 

A pure act of God is generally considered to be something over which human beings had no control whatsoever and could not have prevented in any way.  For example, if a tornado picks up a car and throws it into a home, the damage that is caused would probably be considered an act of God.  The car’s owner was not driving the car and could have done nothing to prevent the crash.

However, if a homeowner neglects to cut down a dead tree and then a storm topples the tree onto a house, this may not be considered an act of God because the homeowner should have known that the tree was likely to fall. 

Act of God as a Personal Injury Defense

Acts of God are sometimes used as defenses in personal injury; however, it is up to the defendant to convince the court that nothing could have prevented the accident.  As an example, suppose a Little League baseball team is conducting a game when a storm comes up quickly and lighting strikes the field, injuring one of the players.  The team may claim that the accident was an act of God.  However, the court may determine that the team had a duty to remove players from the field or cancel the game due to the possibility of a lighting strike from the coming storm, thereby negating the act of God defense.

Whether an accident was an act of God or was precipitated by negligence is often a question for a judge or jury.  However, a personal injury attorney may be able to help victims recover damages in these situations by promoting a case against the defendants for negligence in controlling certain factors of an accident.  Victims who have suffered in “act of God” accidents should always consult a personal injury attorney to determine their rights and discuss

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