With flood season upon us, it seemed like a good time to discuss the “Act Of God” defense to liability claims (specifically often used in personal injury or wrongful death cases), which I hear a lot of people mention.  What exactly is an Act Of God, and under what circumstances can an Act Of God immunize someone from liability?

An Act Of God refers to anything that nature throws at us.  Generally, you are talking about wind (including hurricanes and tornados) and water in all of its forms (floods, rain, snow, ice, etc.), but any natural force can be considered an Act Of God.  Lightning is an Act Of God, and so is the forest fire started by the lightning that burns down your house.  In personal injury and property damage matters, a defendant can be insulated from liability if the defendant can prove that the Act Of God was the sole cause of the injuries and damage to the plaintiff.

The “sole cause” requirement is where it gets tricky.  There can be no human intervention by the defendant that contributed to the injuries or damage.  For example, snow and ice would be considered Acts Of God.  But there are many instances of liability of defendants in accidents involving snow or ice because something that the defendant did combined with the Act Of God to cause the accident.  Perhaps the defendant was driving too fast for conditions on a snowy or icy road or did not remove snow or ice from a sidewalk or stairs.

With floods, two regular areas of liability concern failing to disclose the existence of a flood risk during the sale of home and government liability for failing to protect against a flood.

If you are involved in a legal dispute and need the services of a Des Moines area personal injury attorney, contact Erbe Law Firm today!


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