We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Does "Vis Major" Mean?

Leigia Rosales
By
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
MyLawQuestions is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At MyLawQuestions, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Many words still used within the law are of Latin origin, including the phrase "vis major." The phrase "vis major," literally translated, means "superior force." A more modern-day English translation of the phrase "vis major" is "act of God." The term is generally used to refer to a force so superior that no amount of preparation or precaution could have prevented it from occurring.

The roots of many legal systems throughout Europe and the Americas can be traced back to the Romans. As a result, many legal terms and concepts were originally Latin terms or phrases. Over the centuries, a number of those terms and phrases have remained in Latin as both an homage to the ancient Roman legal system from which they sprang, and as a universal way to refer to concepts that are similar among modern-day legal systems. In many modern-day legal systems, the phrase "vis major" is used in contract or tort law as an exception to strict liability or as a way for a defendant to avoid liability.

In tort, or injury, law, some torts are considered to be strict liability torts. In a strict liability tort, the plaintiff does not have to show a mens rea, or "state of mind," such as negligence in order for the defendant to be liable. All the plaintiff must show is that the defendant's action, or inaction, caused the plaintiff's injuries in order for the plaintiff to recover compensation. Many product liability claims are strict liability tort, as are certain accident torts, such as a dog bite by a dog breed known to be aggressive.

Many courts have taken the position that, even in a strict liability tort, the defendant can avoid liability when a vis major intervened. In other words, when an act of God was to blame for the accident, the defendant may not be held responsible. Take, for example, an aggressive dog whose owner would generally be responsible for any injuries caused by the dog despite efforts to contain the animal. If the owner had the dog secured in a concrete building with steel doors, making it virtually impossible for the dog to get out, but a hurricane wiped the building out and the dog survived, only to bite someone, a court might not hold the defendant liable!

Contracts are another area of the law where the concept of vis major plays a role. A contract is a legally binding agreement between two parties. When one party fails to perform according to the terms of the contract, the other party may generally recover monetary damages for the breach. Many contracts, however, have a provision in them that excludes a party from liability when an act of God prevents the party from performing according to the terms of the contract.

MyLawQuestions is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Leigia Rosales
By Leigia Rosales , Former Writer
Leigia Rosales is a former attorney turned freelance writer. With a law degree and a background in legal practice, she crafts compelling content that informs and engages readers. Her ability to understand complex topics and communicate them effectively makes her a valuable asset to any content creation team.

Discussion Comments

Leigia Rosales

Leigia Rosales

Former Writer

Leigia Rosales is a former attorney turned freelance writer. With a law degree and a background in legal practice, she...
Learn more
MyLawQuestions, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

MyLawQuestions, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.