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 was passed out; I don’t know what caused him to pass 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 for an “Act of God” can vary from state to state and even from one insurance company to another, so 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, storms, or lightning. A good general definition is that it’s a natural occurrence beyond human control or influence.

For the incident you described to be an Act of God, it would normally mean that there was 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 isn’t able to be charged with negligence.

So, if the driver of the tractor had an unknown medical condition that caused him to pass out and crash into your vehicle, it’s possible that your state allows 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 he suffered from losing control of the tractor and there was no medical issue, then typically you would be able to 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.

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Penny Gusner
Consumer Analyst/Insurance Expert

Penny has been working in the car insurance business for more than 10 years and has become an expert on procedures, rates, policies and claims. She has seen it all, and working with from its inception, she researches the routine and the bizarre with equal enthusiasm. She has three very active children and a husband with a zeal for quirky cars.