| Accident | Inevitable Accident | cases | , Act of God , inevitable mistake and their Distinction

| Accident  |  Inevitable Accident  |  cases | , Act of God ,  inevitable mistake and their Distinction 

Car Accident


In tort law, an accident refers to an unforeseen and unintended event that results in harm or damage to another person's property, well-being, or rights. Accidents can happen due to negligence, recklessness, or even without any fault on the part of the person causing the harm. In such cases, the person responsible for the accident may still be held liable for the resulting damages.

On the other hand, an "inevitable accident" is a legal term used to describe an accident that occurs despite all reasonable care and caution taken to prevent it. It refers to situations where the event causing harm was entirely beyond the control of the responsible party and could not have been reasonably foreseen or prevented. Inevitable accidents are considered non-actionable in tort law, meaning the person causing the harm cannot be held liable because they were not at fault, and there was no negligence or wrongdoing involved.

The distinction between a regular accident and an inevitable accident is crucial in determining liability and responsibility in tort cases. If an accident is deemed inevitable, the injured party may not be entitled to compensation from the person who caused the harm since the responsible party was not negligent or at fault. However, if it is established that the accident was not inevitable and resulted from negligence or intentional actions, then the injured party may have grounds to seek compensation for their damages.

Inevitable Accident

Accident means unexpected injury and if the same could not have been forseen and avoided inspite of reasonable care on the part of defendent.

Inevitable Accident.

"Thus an accident which could have been avoided by a reasonable man by taking precautions at the time of the accident cannot be called an inevitable accident because as remarked by Lord Dunedin in Fardon v. Harcourt Rivington, "People must guard against reasonable probabilities, but they are not bound to guard against fantastic possibilities." For example, if a car driver has a heart attack and there is an accident or a driver after getting the car serviced meets with an accident not because of any negligence on his part, because the breaks fail all of the defense of an inevitable accident will suddenly be used.


An illustrative case on inevitable accident is Brown v. Kendall The facts of the case are as follows:-

The defendant's and plaintiff's dogs were fighting. In order to separate them, the defendant was beating them with a stick. In order to protect himself, he moved away while striking them. The plaintiff was standing at a distance of few paces at his back. While retreating thus he once raised his stick to strike at the dogs but it hit the plaintiff in the eye causing serious injury. In a case where the plaintiff sued the defendant, it was determined that the plaintiff's injuries were entirely accidental, involuntary, and unavoidable. hence the defendant was not held accountable.

Similar to this, the defendant's groom was driving a pair of horses on a public highway in Holmes v. Mather. A dog started barking, which caused the horses to begin running extremely quickly. The groom tried his hardest to steer them and maneuver them around a tight corner, but he was unsuccessful. The plaintiff, who suffered serious injuries, was knocked to the ground. The defendant was declared not accountable. The motorist is completely blame-free in this situation, according to Bramwell, B. Not only does he not act improperly, but he also makes an effort to act appropriately given the situation..It is obvious that he (the plaintiff) could not establish a lawsuit in these circumstances. People traveling along roads must be prepared for, or put up with, such evil that reasonable care on the part of others cannot avert for the convenience of mankind in doing life's concerns. A person has the right to sue for damages if they suffer an injury because the highway authorities neglected to fix it.  However, the Common Law defense of inevitable accident would be available to the authority if it can demonstrate that "no amount of reasonable care on its part could have prevented the danger."

Reference may also be made here to another illustrative case, namely, Stanley v. Powell facts of which are briefly stated below:-

Both plaintiff and the defendant were members of a shooting party which went for shooting pheasants. One of the shots fired by the defendant at pheasants recoiled from the branch of an Oak tree and injured the plaintiff who was engaged in carrying cartridges, etc. for the party. It was held that the defendant was not liable because the injury was purely accidental. 

The decision in Stanley v. Powell was approved in National Coal Board v. J.E.  Evana. In this case an electric cable had been laid under the land of County Council by plaintiff's predecessors in title. This was not in the knowledge of the plaintiff. The County Council engaged certain contractors to make the excavations. During excavations the said electric cable was damaged. It was held that the defendants were not liable for neither did they know nor had any means or opportunity to know the underground electric cable which was wrongfully placed there. Thus, it was a case of trespass to chattel where the defence of inevitable accident was allowed.

"The justification for the inevitable accident defense is that the defendant could not have predicted or prevented the effects that were alleged to be a wrong exercise of reasonable care and talent." It should be highlighted that the defense of inevitable accident has a very narrow application: "In trespass as well as in negligence, therefore, inevitable accident has no place." Further, "It, Accident, which is unavoidable, has no place.Additionally, "It appears that the idea of an unavoidable accident no longer serves any meaningful purpose, and it is dubious whether much benefit is gained from it. gained by the continued use of the phrase " This seems to be an extreme view and cannot be accepted. We have seen earlier that the defence of inevitable accident is recognised as a defence in cases of trespass to chattel, negligence in highways, etc. Even in strict liability it is available although only the special form of inevitable accident known as act of God is allowed there as a defence. Thus, the better view is that although is recognised as a defence in certain types of cases, there is no general principle that inevitable accident is a good defence, and that its scope is very limited.

Separating "inevitable accident" from "act of God"

All causes of inevitable or unavoidable accidents may be divided into the following two classes:

(1) those which are caused by the elementary forces of nature which are not in any way connected with the agency of man or other cause, and

(2) those which take place, wholly or partly due to agency of man, independent of the agency of natural forces.

The term 'act of God' is applicable to the former.  The second or latter type of accidents are termed 'inevitable accidents. Thus, the main distinction between an act of God' and inevitable accident' is that "an act of God will be an extraordinary occurrence due to natural causes which is not the result of any human intervention which could not be avoided by any amount of foresight and care, e.g.. a fire caused by lightning. But an accidental fire though it might not have resulted from any act or omission of the common carrier, cannot be said to be an act of God.")

Distinction between inevitable mistake and inevitable accident.-

"The defense of inevitable error asserts that, despite the act's intention and its results, the defendant took action while acting on the mistaken assumption—formed on reasonable grounds—that certain conditions existed. which justified him. The plea of inevitable accident is that the consequences complained of as a wrong were not intended by defendant and could not have been foreseen and avoided by the exercise of reasonable care and skill."

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