Q In a Virginia personal injury case, what does "liability" mean?
Liability essentially means who was at fault for the accident.
To be successful in a personal injury claim in Virginia you must prove that the person who caused the accident was negligent. Negligence
is the failure to use ordinary care.
In a car accident case, it means who caused the crash. Sometimes there is "good" liability and sometimes lliability is "tough". The best way to understand this is by examples:
Example 1: A person is injured while stopped at a stop sign because he is hit in the rear by a person who is texting while driving their car.
In this example the liability is almost absolutely clear. The person sitting at the stop sign could not have done anything to cause the collision, she was simply stopped at a stop sign. The other driver was driving while distracted and was the cause of the collision.
Example 2: You are drive through an intersection that is controlled by a traffic light. You and another car collide in the intersection. The other car was coming from you right. You say you had the green light and the other driver says they had a green light. There are no witnesses.
Liability in this instance is tougher because it is simply your word against the other persons word. While the jury can still believe you version there is no independant evidence to support either side. The jury woudl simply ahve to determine which person they believe.
The other consideration in Virginia when determining liability is contributory negligence
. Essentially this mean that even though the other party was negligent in causing the collision, if you were also negligent and that negligence was also a cause of the accident, then you cannot recover for your injuries.