Question: My car was parked while I was working in the fields. A field tractor driven by an employee ran over and smashed my vehicle. My car is destroyed. The driver passed out. I called the employer’s insurance carrier, who said the accident was an act of god, so there was no liability. How is this case an act of god?

Answer: It appears the car insurance company of the tractor driver is saying they aren’t liable because the person passed out, and thus he isn’t negligent. If this is the case, we see it more as a medical emergency than an act of god.

The definition of an “act of god” can vary from state to state and even from one insurance company to another. Ultimately, you need to ask the insurer how this accident falls under their definition of an act of god.

An act of god typically refers to a natural event, not preventable by any human agency, such as flood, storm or lightning. A good general definition is that it’s a natural occurrence beyond human control or influence.

For the incident you described as an act of god, it would normally mean an event like a tornado that blew the tractor into your vehicle. A person passing out while driving a vehicle, even a tractor, wouldn’t usually fall under an act of god; however, it may be considered a medical emergency.

Some states allow that if a person is suddenly stricken by a period of unconsciousness, which he has no reason to anticipate and renders it impossible for him to control the vehicle he is driving, he cannot be charged with negligence.

So, if the tractor driver had an unknown medical condition that caused him to pass out and crash into your vehicle, your state may allow this as a defense and reason that both he and his insurer cannot be held liable for the incident.

If, however, he was drunk or was knocked unconscious due to injuries after losing control of the tractor, and there was no medical issue. Typically, you could make a claim against the auto insurance company or go after the driver personally for the damages to your vehicle.

If you have collision coverage on your car, it would be advisable to make a claim for your damages under it and let your car insurance company deal with the employer’s insurance and the driver of the tractor.

Contact your state’s insurance regulator to find out about the act of god definition in your state and if a medical emergency is a defense to an auto accident. This state agency can help you determine if your claim can be denied by the employer’s insurance and what options you have to deal with your damages if you are without collision coverage.

Penny Gusner contributed to this story.

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Contributing Writer

Prachi is an insurance writer with a master’s degree in business administration. Through her writing, she hopes to help readers make smart and informed decisions about their finances. She loves to travel and write poetry.