Although the term refers to God, this phrase is not religious in this context; it is simply a piece of jargon that means something was not caused by mankind, and couldn’t have been prevented by humans, either.
Insurance contracts often do not cover acts of God. That means that an insurance company may try to argue that something is an act of God, even when it doesn’t quite fit the definition in order to get out of paying a claim for damages. Acts of God are found more often in the home insurance context, but it can apply to car accident cases in some circumstances as well.
Examples of Acts of God
The most common examples of acts of God are natural disasters. Georgia Code §1-3-3 explicitly cites the following incidents:
- Perils of the sea
- Sudden death
Acts of God in Car Accident Claims
Sickness and sudden death are considered acts of God and are important in car accident situations. For example, imagine that someone is driving, and they suddenly have a heart attack. They likely are not going to be able to control their vehicle. If they hit your car they might have a defense to your claims for injuries and damage because an act of God occurred and caused the accident.
You can combat this defense in some situations. For instance, if that driver had a high risk of having a heart attack, and was told by his doctor not to drive, that type of information might affect the outcome of a potential legal claim. This is because the other driver’s heart attack was foreseeable and may have even been likely under the circumstances.
Under Georgia law, for something to be considered an act of God, it must be a physical cause that is irresistible or inevitable.
Georgia code explicitly notes “this expression excludes all ideas of human agency.” Generally, this means that the accident could not have happened by the intervention of man. For instance, imagine that a driver loses control of their car in a large puddle and crashes into your vehicle. The puddle itself was an act of God, but the driver’s inability to control his vehicle wasn’t.
If the act of God itself didn’t cause your accident, then it won’t be a valid defense for an insurance company.
How Your Lawyer Can Determine Fault: Driver Negligence Versus Act of God
The key factor in an accident claim is determining fault. Your lawyer must address if each of the drivers involved in the accident acted in accordance with the standards of care that a reasonable person would follow in similar circumstances. Bad weather is often an important circumstance that helps determine whether the driver was acting negligently or recklessly.
During a heavy rain downpour, visibility is significantly impaired, and thus driving at the speed limit is not reasonable. Similarly, snow, ice, or slick wet pavement can severely impair a vehicle’s ability to brake and completely stop. During these driving conditions, a reasonable person would likely drive slower and increase the following distance behind other vehicles.
Car Accidents That Are Not An Act of God
An instance where there is poor visibility because of heavy rain/snow/sleet and a driver slams on their brakes, hydroplanes, and rear-ends your vehicle because they cannot see you is not an example of an act of God because the driver had full control over his speed. Nature is no excuse for bad driving.
Car Accidents That May Be Considered An Act of God
A tornado suddenly appears and its winds push your vehicle into oncoming traffic. Depending on other factors, this incident may be appropriately described as an act of God because there is nothing the driver could have done to avoid the collision.
Get Help With Your Legal Claim Even if There Was an Act of God
If an insurance company is denying your claim because they say that the accident was not due to an act of God, you need John Foy & Associates to examine your situation to determine if there was a true act of God to blame for your injuries. Many insurance companies will try to stretch this concept much further than they should so they can get out of paying you the money damages that you deserve. Don’t let this happen.
Fill out our online form or call us at 404-400-4000 to get your FREE consultation today.