From time to time, we’re all subject to events that are beyond our personal control – rising inflation rates and international conflict, for example. Yet, some events leave no trace of human influence whatsoever.
Many ancient communities attributed such events to the will of the deities whom they worshipped. Similarly, some modern religious communities detect the hand of the Almighty in current extreme circumstances.
People who are involved in uninfluenceable events sometimes find themselves injured as a result. In such cases, are they able to claim compensation the same way as when there is a clear agent to blame?
What is an Act of God?
Contrary to its traditional use, the term “act of God” is no longer associated with religious beliefs. Rather, it’s a legal term that refers to any hazardous event whose cause lies outside of human control or activity. Acts of God encompass natural disasters, such as tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, and floods. Traditionally, this concept has been used as a defense that a defendant uses to absolve themselves of responsibility.
What is a personal injury?
Legally speaking, “personal injury” refers to recognizable damage that has resulted in pain and suffering that is caused by someone else’s negligence, carelessness, or wrongful conduct.
Under UK law, everyone has the right to claim compensation for a personal injury and open a case against whoever is responsible for their pain and suffering.
How do Acts of God relate to personal injuries?
Really, the difference between the two boils down to whether or not someone is at fault. However, whether a court rules that a person or nature itself is responsible for an injury will depend on the degree to which the event was foreseeable, precedented, and avoidable.
To bring the differences into fresher relief, let’s quickly explore Mahindra Nath Mukherjee v Mathuradas Chaturbhuj – an interesting Indian case from 1946 when the country was still subject to British law.
A movie advertising banner fell from the roof of a building during a monsoon season storm, injuring the plaintiff. The defendant tried to shift the blame and claimed that The banner fell as a result of the storm’s unusual intensity – they claimed It was a divine act.
However, the court observed that storms of that intensity are relatively common during the monsoon season. Moreover, it found that the defendant didn’t do enough to secure the banner given the possibility of it falling after being buffeted by a storm’s strong winds. So, the defendant was found to be negligent in the case and was held liable.
The bottom line
Finding out who is responsible under the eyes of the law can be complicated. If you’ve suffered from an injury and are unsure who’s to blame, always seek advice from professionals.