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 themself. In contract law, an act of God may be interpreted as 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.
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.
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:
• High Tides
• Violent Winds
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 themself. While the destruction and inconvenience that occurs often puts people out financially, you may not sue for an act of God.