Act of God
a naturally occurring incident usually resulting in damage to property or life. An earthquake or tsunami can be classified as an act of God as no human individual can be held responsible for the resulting damage. An act of God is any unforeseeable phenomenon that involves no human agency. It is not possible to predict or take preventive actions against these naturally occurring circumstances.
Act of God Details
The term "act of God" commonly comes into the picture in the contract and insurance policy domains. Any damage caused due to an act of God can be considered as an exception to liability. Many insurance agencies consider earthquakes, floods, hurricanes as acts of God. A homeowner's policy can cover natural disasters like hurricanes, tornados, etc. However, some insurance policy schemes have the provision of buying a separate flood or earthquake insurance which can be added to the overall homeowner insurance.
Automobile insurance policies can also be protected under the realm of an "act of God". Comprehensive coverage includes coverage for acts of God. Comprehensive coverage is liable to pay for any damages to the car due to anything other than collisions. This coverage will protect the insured against acts of vandalism, terrorism, etc.
Real World Example of Act of God
"Act of God" is often used in a court of law as a defense argument. One such example was the "1970 Betty Penrose" case where Arizonian lawyer Russel Tansie filed a case against God on behalf of his client Betty Penrose. The accusation against God was his negligence over the control of weather which caused a lightning bolt to strike her home causing thousands of dollars in damage. Ms. Penrose won the case as the defendant (God) failed to appear in court.
In 2005, Romanian citizen Pavel M. was convicted of murder and sentenced to 20 years in prison. However, Pavel went on and filed a lawsuit against the Romanian Orthodox Church for not protecting him from the hands of the devil. He used his baptism certificate as a binding contract between him and God. The case was however dismissed as God was neither an individual nor a company and therefore was not subject to the civil court of law jurisdiction.
Act of God vs Force Majeure
Inevitable accidents are accidents that could not have been foreseen or prevented by any human being involved. "Act of God" is the term used for such accidents in the legal world. The act of God argument is often used by defendants to escape punishments from the accusations they are facing.
Force majeure is another clause used by defendants in a court of law. Both acts of God and force majeure mean the same thing, but they are used differently in the legal world. The act of God refers to any inevitable incident that occurs due to elementary forces of nature not connected to any human being involved. On the other hand, force majeure is a much wider term which not only includes natural forces but also includes other causes which may not be related to nature and can be connected to any human agency directly or indirectly.
However, humans affected by the incident don't have any control over it. Common examples where the force majeure clause can be applied are in the events of war, terrorism, and vandalism. These acts involve humans, but the citizens affected due to such events don't have any control over them.