Emergency Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Emergency, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Emergency?

n. a sudden, unforeseen happening which requires action to correct or to protect lives and/or property.

History and Meaning of Emergency

Emergency is a term used to describe a sudden and unforeseen happening that demands prompt action to correct or protect lives and/or property. The term has its origin in the Latin word "emergere" which means to arise, to come to light or to emerge. In the legal context, an emergency is any situation that needs immediate attention or response to prevent harm, minimize damage or save lives.

In general, an emergency can come in different forms and can be caused by a wide range of factors. It can be natural, such as floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, and tornadoes, or human-made, such as terrorist attacks, industrial accidents, or health epidemics. In any case, an emergency requires the mobilization of resources and the cooperation of different agencies and stakeholders to mitigate its effects and provide effective response and recovery services.

Examples of Emergency

  1. A fire breaks out in a residential building, and residents need to be evacuated immediately to avoid injuries or fatalities.
  2. A severe storm damages the power grid, leaving thousands of people without electricity and compromising communication and transportation systems.
  3. A chemical spill occurs in a factory, putting the health of workers and nearby communities at risk due to toxic fumes.
  4. A mass shooting takes place in a public place, and law enforcement agencies are called upon to neutralize the threat and ensure the safety of civilians.
  5. A global pandemic like COVID-19 requires a worldwide response to contain its spread, provide medical care, and develop a vaccine.

Legal Terms Similar to Emergency

  1. Disaster - a sudden catastrophic event that causes significant disruption and requires a coordinated response from different agencies and organizations.
  2. Crisis - an unstable or fraught situation that is difficult to manage and poses a threat to the public safety.
  3. Force majeure - a legal term that refers to events that are beyond the control of the parties involved and release them from obligations or liabilities under a contract.