accident,n.1. An unintended and unforeseen injurious occurrence; something that does not
occur in the usual course of events or that could not be reasonably anticipated. 2.Equity practice.
An unforeseen and injurious occurrence not attributable to mistake, negligence, neglect, or
“The word ‘accident,’ in accident policies, means an event which takes place without one’s
foresight or expectation. A result, though unexpected, is not an accident; the means or cause must
be accidental. Death resulting from voluntary physical exertions or from intentional acts of the
insured is not accidental, nor is disease or death caused by the vicissitudes of climate or
atmosphere the result of an accident; but where, in the act which precedes an injury, something
unforeseen or unusual occurs which produces the injury, the injury results through accident.” 1A
John Alan Appleman & Jean Appleman, Insurance Law and Practice § 360, at 455 (rev. vol. 1981).
“Policies of liability insurance as well as property and personal injury insurance frequently
limit coverage to losses that are caused by ‘accident.’ In attempting to accommodate the layman’s
understanding of the term, courts have broadly defined the word to mean an occurrence which is
unforeseen, unexpected, extraordinary, either by virtue of the fact that it occurred at all, or because
of the extent of the damage. An accident can be either a sudden happening or a slowly evolving
process like the percolation of harmful substances through the ground. Qualifi-cation of a
particular incident as an accident seems to depend on two criteria: 1. the degree of foreseeability,
and 2. the state of mind of the actor in intending or not intending the result.” John F. Dobbyn,
Insurance Law in a Nutshell 128 (3d ed. 1996).
culpable accident.An accident due to negligence. • A culpable accident, unlike an
unavoidable accident, is no defense except in those few cases in which wrongful intent is the
exclusive and necessary basis for liability.
unavoidable accident.An accident that cannot be avoided because it is produced by an
irresistible physical cause that cannot be prevented by human skill or reasonable foresight. •
Examples include accidents resulting from lightning or storms, perils of the sea, inundations or
earthquakes, or sudden illness or death. Unavoidable accident has been considered a means of
avoiding both civil and criminal liability. — Also termed inevitable accident; pure accident;
unavoidable casualty. Cf. ACT OF GOD. [Cases: Automobiles 201(10); Negligence 440. C.J.S.
Motor Vehicles § 517; Negligence§§ 66–68, 209.]
“Inevitable accident … does not mean a catastrophe which could not have been avoided by
any precaution whatever, but such as could not have been avoided by a reasonable man at the
moment at which it occurred, and it is common knowledge that a reasonable man is not credited
with perfection of judgment.” P.H. Winfield, A Textbook of the Law of Tort § 15, at 43 (5th ed.
“An unavoidable accident is an occurrence which was not intended and which, under all the
circumstances, could not have been foreseen or prevented by the exercise of reasonable
precautions. That is, an accident is considered unavoidable or inevitable at law if it was not
proximately caused by the negligence of any party to the action, or to the accident.” W. Page
Keeton et al., Prosser and Keeton on the Law of Torts § 29, at 162 (5th ed. 1984). [Blacks Law 8th]