Why You Cannot Sue For An Act Of God

by Hank Coleman

An act of God, believe it or not, is a legal term describing events outside human control, such as floods or other natural disasters, for which no one can be held accountable for. In contract law, an act of God may be interpreted as an implied deference under the rule of impossibility. If that is the case, whatever contractual promise was made is discharged because you cannot sue for an act of God, which would result in unavoidable or insurmountable delay or expense.
Incoming tornado

Why You Cannot Sue For Damages From An Act Of God

Since this act was unforeseen and caused unavoidable or insurmountable damage, you generally cannot sue for damages that come as a result.

Take, for example, a huge 50,000 person concert arena and a top selling band have a contract to perform on a certain date at the arena. However, one month before the concert, there is a tornado and it rips the roof off the concert arena. This would be considered an act of God.

The concert arena is clearly not responsible for the tornado, and it would probably be impossible to rebuild the roof in the month before the concert is supposed to take place. Even if it was possible, it could be too costly to rebuild the roof in such a short period of time. As such, the concert arena would say it could not perform on the contract due to impossibility, or an Act of God.

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As a result, the top selling band could not sue to recoup lost costs. It is most likely that the band already paid for advertising for the event, and maybe even rented equipment for the arena. The band could not sue the venue to recoup those costs because it was an act of God.

When You Can Sue For Damages

However, some types of insurance specifically cover acts of God, and it is the central focus on the policy. For example, many farmers take out crop insurance in case floods or storms ruin their crops. The insurance company is then on the hook for the loses, and the farmer could sue if the insurance company does not pay.

The same can also true for car owners who hit a deer or have a tree fall on their cars. In most cases, car owners and homeowners are covered from these events especially if you have comprehensive coverage. You could find yourself lacking coverage for an act of God if you simply have collision coverage on your car, for example. You also want to makes sure that you understand exactly what is covered by your insurance policies.

Common Acts of God

The courts have recognized the following to be acts of God:
• Tornadoes
• Earthquakes
• Death
• High Tides
• Violent Winds
• Floods

An act of God is a legal term describing events outside human control, such as floods or other natural disasters, for which no one can be held accountable for. While the destruction and inconvenient that occurs often puts people out financially, you may not sue for an act of God.

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About Hank Coleman

Hank Coleman is the founder of Money Q&A, an Iraq combat veteran, a Dr. Pepper addict, and a self-proclaimed investing junkie. He has written extensively for many nationally known financial websites and publications. Hank holds a Master’s Degree in Finance and a graduate certificate in personal financial planning. Email him directly at Hank[at]MoneyQandA.com.


Hank Coleman has written 581 articles on Money Q&A. Learn more about Money Q&A on Twitter @MoneyQandA and @HankColeman.


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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Adam

Great article! Very informative

Reply

Jai Catalano

Imagine suing God. That wouldn’t go over to well. Even if you win you lose.

Reply

Paul @ The Frugal Toad

Always a good idea to review your insurance coverages!

Reply

Tom@bestautoinsurance

Thanks for the informative post on acts of god! Some people may be surprised by how much damage hitting a deer can cause. Comprehensive coverage is a great way to protect against these damages. I think there is also insurance for event planners where if they can receive compensation for lost revenue.

Reply

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