Skip to main content

Personal Injury – Act of God – What You Must Know

Which is “godly act?”

Black’s Law Dictionary defines it as “an act … [caused] solely by nature’s aggression without the intervention of human agency.”

Those are usually “things beyond human control, such as unexpected flooding or other natural disasters that nobody can be held accountable for.The Angell Law Firm, LLC is an excellent resource for this.

Personal Injury Lawyer Davenport | Abercrombie, P.A.

So if a contractor fails to enforce the building code, and a storm swept a house down, the contractor could be held responsible.

How about a driver having a stroke and crashing into his next car?

You also see insurance providers alleging a “act of god” defense in situations like this. Such precautions are rarely effective but you might want to look at the medical records. Maybe the lady didn’t have to be on the road anyway. Was she completely honest when answering the long list of questions about her health on her license renewal? Health-wise she felt a little queasy that morning?

To questions like these most “act of nature” defenses melt away under a hot knife, like margarine.

A young, Air National Guardsman came to me early in my career as an injury attorney at Utah. He had watched a softball game near Salt Lake City Airport when a rabble of wind picked up a piece of plywood from government-owned property. The wind lifted the one hundred meter plywood and dropped it on the young man ‘s wrist.

A highly respected Salt Lake City attorney told him the case was worth one thousand dollars worth of “nuisance money” at best. The solicitor had familiarity with accident law but not with it.

As we have learned above, accidents caused by nature are regarded as “acts of god” in the law of “Torts.” Was this an act of god? Even if they should have expected it, says Torts’ law.

National Weather Service research showed wind gusts were normal in the vicinity of Salt Lake City Airport. The Federal Government would also have tied the plywood together. Our lawsuit under the Federal Tort Claims Act resulted in a settlement thirty-six (36) times that the other counsel had expected.

This story illustrates many points to keep in mind when faced with a defense against a “act of god”:

  1. There are diverse types of attorneys. A divorce attorney may be excellent in family law but very poor as an injury attorney, especially when dealing with an uncommon legal concept such as “act of god.” Choose an attorney whose primary focus is injury law and you will benefit from his experience particularly if it’s at least five years full time.
  2. If the accident case doesn’t suit one solicitor seek another.
  3. Looking at a case from various angles can pay off big. A thorough knowledge of the case is worthwhile as is study and innovation.


An act of nature such as a hurricane or heavy rainstorm is a real “act of god.” If such is predictable, however, then it must be planned and prepared for. Neither planning nor preparing can be an act of negligence.