Your Claim Was Rejected Based On Force Majeure. Now What?
Few concepts will annoy a personal injury lawyer as much as force majeure. This is a principle in American law that says a party can't be liable for incidents caused by forces beyond their power to control. A classic invocation of force majeure would be saying that a business owner could do nothing about a slippery sidewalk because of an ice storm, what's sometimes called an Act of God. It can take some work to refute a rejection of a claim based on force majeure, so let's look at how a personal injury attorney might try.
Overly Broad Application
One argument is that the principle was applied in an overly broad manner. Claiming that an event was an Act of God isn't a blanket pardon for all failures that day. If other dangers within the defendant's control also hadn't been addressed, it may be possible to reassert your claim.
Suppose you were going up outside steps leading into a business on the day of the previously mentioned hypothetical ice storm. If the surface didn't have sufficient traction to prevent falls on a good day, there's an argument that it would be worse on a bad day. Likewise, handrails should still be present to help people get up the steps safely.
Pointing to Nearby and Similar Parties
Another argument can be made based on what similarly positioned neighbors did in the time leading up to an incident. Once the weather clears, a business should make every effort to protect its customers from potential injuries. If there is evidence that most of the neighboring businesses were able to clear their sidewalks and steps, it raises questions about why the defendant didn't do the same.
Refuting the Claim of Force Majeure Entirely
It's possible the alleged greater force had nothing to do with the incident. While the defendant might point to the storm as the proximate cause of what happened with the sidewalk, maybe the claimant asserts that the cause was another hazard. For example, there was a heave in the sidewalk that caused the claimant to trip. In other words, the sidewalk would have been hazardous on the nicest day of the year.
Pushing the Case
Your personal injury attorney can do one of two things to advance your cause after a rejection. A lawyer can send the insurance company and the defendant a letter explaining the mistake in their logic, giving them a chance to revise the rejection. Alternatively, your attorney can file a lawsuit.