ACT OF GOD: NATURAL DISASTERS
If, today, a tornado were to destroy your home, “who ya gonna sue?” Hope that you had enough, and appropriate, insurance coverage?
Just recently a fierce winter storm caused ice to fall onto, and break through, a glass atrium of a New York office building. Several people were injured, though thankfully, only slightly. In Washington, D.C., the impact of that same winter storm that wracked almost the entire East Coast, created winds gusting up to 60 mph that shook scaffolding, causing two workers to lose their footing and fall. Though seriously injured, both survived. “Act of God”? Certainly. End of story? Not at all !
There are certainly certain natural events that occur that result in damage to individuals, and for which there will be no recourse, by way of a lawsuit. God is not a viable litigant !
Before you jump to the conclusion, however, that any given event–any “Act of God”–even a hurricane, a blizzard, a raging flood or a tsunami–may not lend themselves to seeking compensation from a source other than, or over and above, insurance, it would be wise to consult with an experienced Personal Injury Attorney.
Most common in the winter months are cases involving falls on ice and snow. Without going into details in this area of law, which can be difficult, the experienced attorney will examine the existence of local ordinances regarding snow removal. The attorney will also look at any acts by a property owner that aggravated what nature may have created, had there been no human interference.
With the examples of the glass atrium and the scaffold, we enter into areas of law that also lend themselves to imposing responsibility upon third parties. In both instances, laws exist that will govern the imposition of liability on certain third parties (building codes, labor law). And even in addition to those grounds for a lawsuit, there are many instances where the concept of “foreseeability” is applicable which will subject certain third parties to liability for what otherwise seem to be an “Act of God”.
“Foreseeability”, the facility to perceive, know in advance, or reasonably anticipate that damage or injury will probably ensue from acts or omissions (legal dictionary definition) will be dealt with in another posting.