Personal injury lawyers have heard this argued one more than one occasion. Whether it is phrased in terms of "act of god", "unavoidable accident" or some strain of "sudden incapacity of a driver", lawyers representing the insurance companies have been known to argue to juries that:
"although there was an accident, and although there were injuries, no one should be held responsible"
It's just not anybody's fault. Or, so goes the argument. In order to recover for an automobile accident, the negligence of that at-fault driver must be what the law calls the "proximate cause" of the collision. [there is more material on proximate cause in other chapters of this volume]. The notion that some other mechanism –other than negligence- caused the accident lies at the core of all of these defenses. For example, the presence of ice on the roadway, it could be argued, is an unforeseeable circumstance, making a collision between vehicles on that roadway inevitable, and something that could not be prevented. But, in that circumstance, the inquiring personal injury attorney may ask, should the driver causing the accident used additional caution, or not have ventured out at all? We've also seen the claim that "the driver of the other car had a heart attack, or a seizure", or some other medical calamity. A defendant claiming this type of incapacity has the burden of proving that there is no way they could have foreseen it coming. For example- a person suffering from a seizure disorder controlled by medication may have a reason to anticipate a seizure if they neglected to take that medication.
-This Article was updated by Eric Kirk on 4/15/19.