Acts of god have been around for a long time, and humanity has always defended against them the best it could. In court, it’s another matter entirely. The law defines an act of god as something that happens beyond anyone’s control. They are unpredictable events. In addition, it is something that cannot be changed simply by taking what would otherwise be reasonable precautions against negligence.
There are plenty of lawyers who argue that the very idea of an “act of god” is disappearing because almost all of these natural or environmental phenomena are changing or becoming worse in some way due to man-made climate change–which means there is always someone liable; someone to blame.
Not only that, but technology is also becoming much better at helping us determine when and where traditional act of god events will take place, and how much damage they could potentially do. That means we almost always have the opportunity to increase our level of preparedness. And that means it’s a tough defense to use these days. That’s great news for the victims of personal injury, who have had to endure the tired old excuse ever since it was first used in the 16th century.
These defenses are only good when the weather is proportional to the damage. Unpredictable heavy rain isn’t something you can use as an excuse if someone gets hurt. Employees who must deal with inclimate weather must be trained in how to properly exercise appropriate levels of caution in order to maintain safety standards.
In similar fashion, another driver probably won’t be able to maintain an act of god defense if a person is injured after a car accident for which he was at fault. Your brakes suddenly went out? It might be the manufacturer who is ultimately liable, but then again, it might still be you if you failed to properly service your vehicle.
The court might also find that certain contracts are frustrated by acts of god that neither party could predict.
In the case of personal insurance, most providers do cover many acts of god. It’s a part of most Comprehensive coverage plans, many of which use the act of god umbrella to determine payouts for theft or vandalism as well.