Understanding Force Majeure in Auto Accidents

Auto accidents are already stressful and complicated events. When unforeseen circumstances contribute to an accident, the situation can become even more complex. This is where the legal concept of “force majeure” comes into play. In this blog, we’ll dive into what force majeure means and how it can affect auto accident claims in Texas.

What is Force Majeure?

Force majeure, a French term meaning “superior force,” refers to extraordinary events or circumstances beyond anyone’s control, such as natural disasters, war, or severe weather conditions. In legal terms, it is used to absolve parties from liability or obligation when an unforeseeable event prevents them from fulfilling a contract.

Force Majeure in Texas Law

In Texas, force majeure clauses are often included in contracts to outline what happens if an extraordinary event occurs. However, its application in personal injury law, especially auto accidents, is more nuanced.

According to Texas law, a force majeure event must be unforeseeable and directly prevent someone from performing their obligations. In the context of auto accidents, this could include extreme weather conditions like hurricanes or unexpected natural disasters like earthquakes.

How Force Majeure Impacts Auto Accident Claims

When an auto accident occurs due to a force majeure event, determining liability can be complex. Here’s how force majeure might impact your claim:

  1. Negligence and Liability: Typically, auto accidents are evaluated based on negligence. However, if an accident is caused by an unforeseeable event, it can be challenging to prove negligence. For example, if a driver loses control of their vehicle due to a sudden earthquake, it might be considered a force majeure event, potentially absolving them from liability.
  2. Insurance Claims: Insurance companies may scrutinize force majeure claims closely. Policies often have specific clauses regarding coverage during natural disasters or other force majeure events. It’s crucial to understand your policy details and how these clauses might affect your claim.
  3. Legal Proceedings: If you decide to take legal action following an accident caused by a force majeure event, you’ll need an experienced attorney. Proving that an event was indeed force majeure and that it directly caused the accident requires detailed evidence and expert testimony.

Case Example: Hurricane Harvey

Consider the example of Hurricane Harvey, which devastated parts of Texas in 2017. Many auto accidents occurred during and after the hurricane due to flooding and severe weather conditions. In such cases, drivers involved in accidents might argue that the hurricane was a force majeure event, thus impacting their liability. However, each case would need to be evaluated on its specific facts, including the foreseeability of the event and the actions taken by the drivers involved.

Navigating the complexities of force majeure in auto accident claims can be daunting. At Ryan Orsatti Law, we specialize in personal injury law and understand the intricacies of these cases. Our team can help you gather the necessary evidence, understand your insurance policy, and represent you in legal proceedings to ensure your rights are protected.

For more information on force majeure and how it may affect your auto accident claim, visit the Texas Department of Insurance or consult the Texas Bar Association.


Understanding the concept of force majeure and its implications in auto accidents is essential for anyone navigating an accident claim under extraordinary circumstances. If you’ve been involved in an accident during an unforeseeable event, contact Ryan Orsatti Law for expert legal guidance. We’re here to help you through every step of the process.