Fortuitous Event, * A term in the civil law to denote that which happens by a cause which cannot be resisted. Louis. Code, art. 2522, No. 7. Or it is that which neither of the parties has occasioned, or could prevent. Lois des Bat. Pt. 2, c. 2, §1. It is also defined to be an unforeseen event which cannot be prevented. Dict. de Jurisp. Cas fortuit.
2. There is a difference between a fortuitous event or inevitable accident, and irresistible force. By the former, commonly called the act of God, is meant any accident produced by physical causes, which are irresistable; such as a loss by lightning or storms, by the perils of the seas, by inundations and earthquakes, or by sudden death or illness. By the latter is meant such an interposition of human agency, as is, from its nature and power, absolutely uncontrollable. Of this nature are losses occasioned by-the inroads of a hostile army, or by public enemies. Story on Bailm. §25; Lois des Bat. Pt. 2, c. 2, §1.
3. Fortuitous events are fortunate or unfortunate. The accident of finding a treasure is a fortuitous event of the first class. Lois des Bat. Pt. 2, c. 2, §2.
4. Involuntary obligations may arise in consequence of fortuitous events. For example, when, to save a vessel from shipwreck, it is necessary to throw goods overboard, the loss must be borne in common; there arises, in this case, between the owners of the vessel and of the goods remaining on board, an obligation to bear proportionably the loss which has been sustained. Lois desbit. Pt. 2, c. 2, §2. See, in general, Dig. 50, 17, 23; Id. 16, 3, 1; Id. 19, 2, 11; Id. 44, 7, 1; Id. 18, 6, 10 Id. 13, 6, 18; Id. 26, 7, 50; Act of God; Accident; Perils of the Sea.
* From Bouvier's Law Dictionary, 1856 Edition. Please see Bouvier's Legal Abbreviations & Abbreviated References for help with obscure nomenclature & references.