Tort Law

Act of God Cases Defense

Act of God cases, also known as “Force Majeure” provisions, are frequently referenced, but there is often a misconception about what qualifies as an act of God.

An event that occurs outside of human control such as a flood, tornado, earthquake, or natural disaster might qualify as an Act of God defense. When this happens, there is a limit or elimination of the injuries or losses resulting from the event in question.

Below you will find a compilation of cases reported by the Virginia Supreme Court dealing with these cases. 

1994 Cooper v. Horn, 248 Va. 417, 448 S.E.2d 403.

An earthen dam broke, causing damage to property owners downstream. The defendants alleged an extraordinary flood is an act of God. 

To relieve one of liability because a flood is an act of God, it must appear that the event was the sole proximate cause of injury. 

In this instance, the human agency was an element, since there was evidence of negligence in constructing dams.

1951 Portsmouth v. Culpepper, 192 Va. 362, 64 S.E.2d 799.

An act of the divine or God is defined as an accident due to forces of nature directly and exclusively without human intervention, such as one that could not have been prevented by any amount of foresight.

1946 Southern Ry. v. Jefferson, 185 Va. 384, 38 S.E.2d 334.

Floods, in this case, were so unusual that they qualified as acts of God.

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Act of God Cases Defense

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