Aug, 2015

Written by kdadmin,
posted in Wilka, Welter & Ash LLP Law Blog.

Force Majeure

When a person does not know what “Force majeure” means, it may sound like a dirty phrase. Even when a person knows what Force majeure means, it may still be an undesirable phrase, especially when insurance companies use this phrase to deny claims.

Force majeure is a legal term in Latin that historically means an “Act of God.” Clauses in legal contracts that refer to Force majeure are affectionately called “heaven or hell” clauses.

Is in not necessary to believe in God, to have to deal with Force majeure in a legal sense. An act of God is usually a natural phenomenon, such as an earthquake, flood, hurricane, tornado, or volcanic eruption. A more contemporary definition of Force majeure would be a natural catastrophe.

When is Force Majeure a Problem?

There are many instances when Force majeure creates problems from the point of view of an injured party seeking a settlement for a claim. The first problem is when a contract has a Force majeure clause and the person did not notice this. Nefarious contracts might have a short sentence or phrase, such as “coverage does not extend to any result of any event of Force majeure.” As an example, a homeowner’s policy might cover a fire set by arson, but NOT cover a fire caused by the home being hit by lightening.

This is an important consideration in regards to all the recent damage caused by severe storms in South Dakota. If a policy has a Force majeure provision, it is possible the insurance company will reject any claim for damage by the storms.

One Thing Leads to Another

Other difficulties that arise in contract disputes or denial of claims by insurance companies are when the factors contributing to a personal injury are not clear. A hypothetical example of this would be a drunken guy drives in a thunderstorm, with high winds that blow his truck off the road, and he smashes into a home injuring a person sitting inside the house. These things actually happen. So the question is, did the accident occur because the guy was drunk, or because the wind blew him off the road (which he could not control)? Is a truck hitting a house an “Act of God”?

If someone is injured from the recent South Dakota storms, they should immediately seek advice from an attorney that specializes in personal injury law in Sioux Falls that is capable to help with such a complex legal case.