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What Does "Act of Man" Mean?

"Act of Man" refers to any event resulting directly from human behavior, such as industrial accidents or deforestation. These actions can have profound impacts on our environment and society. Curious about the ripple effects of these acts? Discover their far-reaching consequences with us.
Laura M. Sands
Laura M. Sands

"Act of man" is a legal term used to describe acts performed by an individual of sound mind. More specifically, this term is used to describe acts carried out by a person under her or his own discretion and by which an individual is legally bound. It further applies to acts carried out by individuals under the direction, authority or influence of another person of sound mind.

An act of man differs from other naturally occurring acts such as environmental disasters in that actions are made of a person’s own volition. Typically, this term refers to any event which required any level of human intervention or assistance. It is important to distinguish this type of act from other events which occur due to natural forces in order to determine who or what is responsible for such an activity and how consequences for an activity should be judged.

An airline crash caused by mechanical tampering is an example of an act of man.
An airline crash caused by mechanical tampering is an example of an act of man.

This term is commonly used in lawsuits involving insurance claims. Often, an act of man legal definition is used to determine whether ensuing damages were due to human actions or whether damages were a result of unavoidable accidents or natural activities. It is not unusual for monetary damages to be withheld when it is determined that damages occurred due to an act of man, particularly when an incident occurred due to the intervention of a claimant.

In business, goods that aren't delivered because of natural forces would not be considered an act of man, whereas failure to deliver because of theft would be.
In business, goods that aren't delivered because of natural forces would not be considered an act of man, whereas failure to deliver because of theft would be.

An example of an act of man would be an airplane crashing due to engine tampering or faulty maintenance. While plane crashes may also occur due to environmental reasons, such as birds flying into a plane’s engine, a person tampering with a plane’s mechanisms is a deliberate action made by a person of sound mind. Such a differentiation would be of the utmost importance in determining who or what is to blame for an engine’s failure or malfunction in order to pursue criminal prosecution.

In business, an act of man is also a frequently used term. Similar to how it is used in a legal sense, the term is often used at the onset of certain business dealings to clarify acceptable reasons for failing to honor contracts and agreements. For example, it may be agreed that goods that have been paid for but that are not delivered due to inclement weather conditions or due to the occurrence of a natural disaster may be delayed or replaced without additional cost to the buyer. Whereas goods that are not received because they were intercepted by theft or by other human intervention may not qualify for replacement if not appropriately insured against such activities.

Frequently Asked Questions

What exactly is a human act?

An act of man is a legal term that refers to any human conduct that results in a specific result. This effect could be beneficial or harmful, depending on whether the underlying activity was purposeful or unintended. In general, an act of man is something done without malice that could not have been predicted or stopped.

In a legal sense, how does a human act differ from a divine act? 

An act of man is a human action that results in a specified consequence, whereas an act of God is a natural force-caused event that is beyond human control. These incidents are often beyond the purview of human accountability because they are unpredictable and inescapable.

What types of events comprise a human act? 

The term "act of man" refers to any occurrence caused by human action. This could be a commercial decision, a medical operation, or even a simple mistake. Finally, any occurrence that can be traced back to a single human activity might be considered an act of man.

What are the legal ramifications of a human act? 

A human act is legally significant because it can be used to evaluate responsibility in the event of a lawsuit. For example, in a negligence lawsuit, an act of man can be utilized to assess whether the defendant was actually responsible or whether the incident was beyond their control.

What are some instances of an act of man?

Man's actions include driving a car, signing a contract, running a machine, performing a medical treatment, and even making a mistake. In summation, any human action that results in an occurrence is considered an "act of man."

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Discussion Comments

indemnifyme

I used to work in insurance, so I've heard this term before in relation to a case involving car insurance. As the article said, when insurance companies are processing claims, they try to figure out if the action occurred because of human actions.

For example, a case involving a driver that caused the accident by going 20 miles per hour over the speed limit would be handled differently than an accident that was caused by faulty brakes. Although I guess in the case of faulty brakes, it would depend on why the brakes were faulty: did they just break, or did the manufacturer screw up? There are a lot of different factors to consider!

JessicaLynn

@betterment - Yeah, that makes sense to me too. No one should have to be responsible for bad things that happen as the result of something we can't control!

I personally think it's interesting that an "act of man" can only be performed by someone who is of sound mind. Because really, any act of a person would be an "act of man" wouldn't it? I guess if the person who committed the act wasn't mentally competent, they just wouldn't be held legally responsible for their actions.

betterment

I've actually never heard this term. I guess it's the human equivalent of the term "act of god." It sounds like the major differentiation between an "act of man" and an "act of god" is whether or not the event could be controlled by a person. As the article said, no person can control bad weather. But a person can tamper with the engine of a plane!

It makes sense that lawsuits would proceed differently if it was an "act of man" that caused harm. Especially if it was the action of the plaintiff in the case!

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    • An airline crash caused by mechanical tampering is an example of an act of man.
      By: Arsel
      An airline crash caused by mechanical tampering is an example of an act of man.
    • In business, goods that aren't delivered because of natural forces would not be considered an act of man, whereas failure to deliver because of theft would be.
      By: imageegami
      In business, goods that aren't delivered because of natural forces would not be considered an act of man, whereas failure to deliver because of theft would be.