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The happening of an event without the concurrence of the will of the person by whose agency it was caused or the happening of an event without any human agency; the burning of a house in consequence of a fire being made for the ordinary purpose of warming the house which is an accident of the first kind; the burning of the same house by lightning would have been an accident of the second kind.
It frequently happens that a lessee covenants to repair, in which case he is bound to do so, although the premises be burned down without his fault. But if a penalty be annexed to the covenant, inevitable accident will excuse the former, though not the latter. Neither the landlord nor the tenant is bound to rebuild a house burned down, unless it has been so expressly agreed.
In chancery jurisprudence accident signifies such unforeseen events, misfortunes, losses, acts or omissions, as are not the result of any negligence or misconduct in the party.
Jeremy defines it as used in courts of equity to be 'an occurrence in relation to a contract, which was not anticipated by the parties, when the same was entered into, and which gives an undue advantage to one of them over the other in a court of law.' This definition is objected to, because as accident may arise in relation to other things besides contracts, it is inaccurate in confining accidents to contracts; besides, it does not exclude cases of unanticipated occurrences, resulting from the negligence or misconduct of the party seeking relief.
In general, courts of equity will relieve a party who cannot obtain justice in consequence of an accident, which will justify the interposition of a court of equity. The jurisdiction being concurrent, will be maintained only, first, when a court of law cannot grant suitable relief; and, secondly, when the party has a conscientious title to relief.
Many accidents are redressed in a court of law; as loss of deeds, mistakes in receipts and accounts, wrong payments, death, which makes it impossible to perform a condition literally, and a multitude of other contingencies; and many cannot be redressed even in a court of equity; is if by accident a recovery is ill suffered, a contingent remainder destroyed, or a power of leasing omitted in a family settlement.