Tort Liability: A Handbook for Employees of the Virginia Department of Transportation and Virginia Municipal Corporations

Report No: 04-R30

Published in 2004

About the report:

Court decisions concerning state government liability, as well as VDOT's continuing commitment to safety, have made tort liability an increasingly important concern. In response, the Virginia Transportation Research Council has published a tort liability handbook since 1995 to provide the employees of VDOT and of Virginia's municipal corporations with sufficient information to allow them to make informed decisions concerning events that could lead to tort claims against their employers or themselves. This handbook presents a broad outline of what constitutes a tort and identifies specific instances that may lead to legal liability. The handbook distinguishes tort liability from other legal concepts, such as workers' compensation, and explains each element of a tort claim. It intends to arm readers with a basic understanding of tort law and of potential liability issues that they and their employers may face. The handbook also aims to give readers a fundamental understanding of how a claim proceeds and the financial limitations of those suits. Contributory negligence, release, and Act of God are discussed in detail to help form a basic understanding of available defenses. Risk management can help reduce tort liability that employees and employers confront. Following the suggested actions, employees can limit this liability. If readers have questions concerning tort liability, there is a frequently asked questions section that may answer their inquiries. This handbook is not a substitute for legal advice.

Disclaimer Statement:The contents of this report reflect the views of the author(s), who is responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Any inclusion of manufacturer names, trade names, or trademarks is for identification purposes only and is not to be considered an endorsement.


  • Jennifer C. Eilers, Patrick Wachendorf

Last updated: November 30, 2023

Alert Icon

Please note that this file is not ADA compliant. Choose one of below options: