Beardsley, Jensen and Von Wald
A person cannot recover for personal injuries and damages if an accident was due solely to an "Act of God," but what if God and the negligence of a human being came together to cause the accident? South Dakota's pertinent jury instruction states:
A claimant cannot recover if the accident was due to an act of God. An accident results
from an act of God when it is due directly and exclusively to natural causes without
human intervention, which by no amount of foresight, plan, or care, reasonably to have
been expected, could have been prevented.
If the injury occurred was solely the result of an act of God, the defendant is not liable for
the injury, and the jury must return a verdict for the defendant. If negligence of the
defendant combined with an act of God to produce the injury, and the negligence of the
defendant contributed as a legal cause in bringing about the injury, the defendant is liable.
Acts of God – sometimes also known as Mother Nature – can make for very interesting and challenging situations that aren't easily dealt with by those who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. God or Mother Nature determine when to send the snow and wind, but its human drivers that decide how to respond to it on the road.
Lawline@KOTATV.com is intended as general information on legal issues affecting us all. This information should not be relied upon in any particular case and should never be used in lieu of consulting with an attorney.
1. You see yet another car accident at a spot where there have been many accidents in the past and will be more accidents in the future?
2. You learn another person is hurt using a machine that has injured others in the past and will injure others in the future?
3. You watch a dangerous practice – like where a school bus parks – you know is a disaster waiting to happen?
What should you do?
Try to prevent the next accident, injury, and catastrophe from happening.
How can you do that?
Send a letter or email to those responsible – the highway department, the owner and operator of the machine, the school district - putting them on notice of the danger.
Your letter or email will either prompt a "fix" or help the next innocent victim establish liability against those who failed to act.
Taking a few minutes to write a letter or email can have a huge impact; you can be a difference maker.