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.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

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!

Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.

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.
Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006

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.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
References in periodicals archive ?
"was an Act of God, that its severity and--in particular--its storm
In general, however, response to an emergency caused either by a terrorist act, an accident, or an "act of God" remains largely in the hands of the local community.
We believe that Christ's Resurrection is the act of God in raising to life the whole identity and reality of Jesus.
While no liability was established in this suit and previous suits in federal and state actions had upheld the pipeline firms' "act of God" defense, the companies agreed to transfer some laud and pay a sum to help rebuild affected estuarine and freshwater marsh habitats along the river.
They are "an act of God that came straight through Africa." God decided that he wanted some nappy hair in the world because "one Nap of her hair is the only perfect circle in nature." And when he finished his act of creation, he looked at Brenda's hair and said, "Well done.
It wasn't a rule change, a Supreme Court decision, or an Act of God that produced the metamorphosis.
That in our real religious view of the world we see the defeat and destruction of our enemies as an act of God? Is it possible that it only bothers us when bad things happen to good people, or at least to people we think of as good?
And in his work, emotion is communicated through weather - storms often chase the girls and there is always the threat of an act of god, natural disaster, the elements slipping out of control.
Amazingly, this widespread destruction was not caused by fire, flood or an unforeseen act of God. It was the result of a real estate auction -- a sales process being chosen today by a number of banks and other owners desperate to dispose of large inventories of unsold apartment units.
Some of the residents who expressed optimism that Buhari would complete the development projects he started, described the re-election as an 'act of God'.
MANILA -- As widespread flooding has virtually become the new normal when it rains, with or without a typhoon, more and more motorists are availing themselves of the so-called "Act of God" coverage for their vehicles, according to the Philippine Insurers and Reinsurers Association (Pira).
Asking 'why?' is natural at times like this, but intuitively it is clear that there cannot be any good reason for what was truly an 'act of God'.