act of god


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Act of God

An event that directly and exclusively results from the occurrence of natural causes that could not have been prevented by the exercise of foresight or caution; an inevitable accident.

Courts have recognized various events as acts of God—tornadoes, earthquakes, death, extraordinarily high tides, violent winds, and floods. Many insurance policies for property damage exclude from their protection damage caused by acts of God.

act of God

n. a natural catastrophe which no one can prevent such as an earthquake, a tidal wave, a volcanic eruption, or a tornado. Acts of God are significant for two reasons: 1) for the havoc and damage they wreak, and 2) because often contracts state that "acts of God" are an excuse for delay or failure to fulfill a commitment or to complete a construction project. Many insurance policies exempt coverage for damage caused by acts of God, which is one time an insurance company gets religion. At times disputes arise as to whether a violent storm or other disaster was an act of God (and therefore exempt from a claim) or a foreseeable natural event. God knows the answer!

act of god

noun accident, chance occurrence, fortuity, random luck
See also: favor

act of God

an accident or event that cannot be prevented by ordinary human foresight. The occurrence should normally be a natural one, like flood or earthquake. It exempts a party from STRICT LIABILITY in common law and, by definition, from negligence.

ACT OF GOD, in contracts. This phrase denotes those accidents which arise from physical causes, and which cannot be prevented.
     2. Where the law casts a duty on a party, the performance shall be excused, if it be rendered impossible by the act of God; but where the party, by his own contract, engages to do an act, it is deemed to be his own fault and folly that he did not thereby provide against contingencies, and exempt himself from responsibilities in certain events and in such case, (that is, in the instance of an absolute general contract the performance is not excused by an inevitable accident, or other contingency, although not foreseen by, nor within the control of the party. Chitty on Contr. 272, 8; Aleyn, 27, cited by Lawrence; J. in 8 T. R. 267; Com. Dig. Action upon the Case upon Assumpsit, G; 6 T. R. 650 ; 8 T. R. 259; 3 M. & S. 267 ; 7 Mass. 325; 13 Mass. 94; Co. Litt. 206; Com. Dig. Condition, D 1, L 13; 2 Bl. Com. 340; 1 T. R. 33; Jones on Bailm 104, 5 ; 1 Bouv. Inst. n. 1024.
     3. Special bail are discharged when the defendant dies, Tidd, 243 ; actus Dei nemini facit injuriam being a maxim of law, applicable in such case; but if the defendant die after the return of the case and before it is filed, the bail are fixed. 6 T. R. 284; 6 Binn. 332, 338. It is, however, no ground for an exonerator, that the defendant has become deranged since the suit was brought, and is confined in a hospital. 2 Wash. C. C. R. 464, 6 T. It. 133 Bos. & Pull. 362 Tidd, 184. Vide 8 Mass. Rep. 264; 3 Yeates, 37; 2 Dall. 317; 16 Mass. Rep. 218; Stra. 128; 1 Leigh's N, P. 508; 11 Pick. R. 41; 2 Verm. R. 92; 2 Watt's Rep. 443. See generally, Fortuitous Event; Perils of the Sea.

References in periodicals archive ?
Just as the insurers can invoke the Act of God defence, consumers may be able to rely on the defence of legal frustration to avoid paying for a holiday which cannot take place.
Our ancestors tended to call anything they could not explain an act of God.
His insurance company refuses to pay, declaring it an Act of God.
We believe that Christ's Resurrection is the act of God in raising to life the whole identity and reality of Jesus.
Amazingly, this widespread destruction was not caused by fire, flood or an unforeseen act of God.