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Don't Be Confused by the COGSA "Act of God" Defense

When shippers enlist a vessel owner to deliver their cargo safely to its destination, there is still a chance that they could suffer a huge loss. Why? Because the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act (COGSA) relieves a vessel owner of liability to shippers in 17 different situations. These COGSA defenses mean that if a shipper's goods are damaged or lost due to one of these 17 reasons, they have no legal recourse against the vessel owner.

Many people have heard of an Act of God insurance claim, but when it comes down to it, they may not understand what actually constitutes an Act of God. An Act of God is also one of the COGSA defenses, so we'll try to help make it all a little more clear.

In a Texas Supreme Court case, an Act of God was considered to be "an accident that is due directly and exclusively to natural causes without human intervention and which no amount of foresight or care reasonably exercised could have prevented. The accident must be one occasioned by the violence of nature, and all human agency is to be excluded from creating or entering into the cause."

This means the accident would need to be caused by some kind of natural phenomena, like:

  • Earthquake
  • Hurricane or other serious storm
  • Lightning
  • Extreme waves

However, even if the cargo is damaged by an Act of God, none of the damage can also be attributed to the vessel owner's negligence. If it is found that the vessel owner was negligent in any way, it will more than likely cancel out the COGSA Act of God defense.

If you are a shipper or vessel owner who suffered a loss and needs assistance with a marine insurance claim, contact the The Voss Law Firm, P.C. for help. We can thoroughly investigate and litigate your denied claim; call us today at 888-614-7730. You are also welcome to request a free copy of our book, Your Basic Guide to Marine Insurance.

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The Voss Law Firm, P.C. represents clients on a local, national and international basis. We proudly serve companies and individuals along the Gulf Coast and around the globe on a contingency fee basis. Our law firm collects nothing unless we recover on our client's behalf.

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