Define: Liability

UK Accounting Glossary

Definition: Liability

Quick Summary of Liability

the state of being legally obliged and responsible

What is the dictionary definition of Liability?

Dictionary Definition

Liability means and signifies responsibility for an act or omission. Thus, he who commits a wrong is said to be liable for it.  Liability, in the words of Salmond, is the bond of necessity that exists between the wrong-doer and the remedy for the wrong. This remedy may be either civil or criminal, and thus, liability may be civil liability or criminal liability.

  1. The condition of being liable.
  2. An obligation, debt or responsibility owed to someone.
  3. A handicap that holds something back.
  4. The likelihood of something happening.


Full Definition of Liability

The state of being responsible for something, especially by law.

Liability is an obligation that an individual must pay according to the law. For instance, if you are negligent and your negligence causes injury to another person you are legally liable to compensate them for their injuries. Personal injury claims can decide the liability of each injured party.

Consider, however, different states will have different means to allocate damages for injuries. Some states use a contributory negligence system, which allows that if the plaintiff contributed to his injury (in some states) the plaintiff will be prevented from collecting any damages. Other states use a pure comparative negligence system, which allows the plaintiff to collect damages but reduces the amount by their contribution or fault. Other states use a comparative negligence system but the plaintiff can only collect compensation if they are 49% or less at-fault for their injuries; other states allow the plaintiff to receive compensation if they are less than 50% at-fault.

Because state laws vary for how compensation may be allocated based on each party’s liability if you have been injured and you are partially at-fault for your injuries you should talk to a personal injury lawyer.

In cases of civil liability, the party who is wronged is entitled to the redress allowed by law, whereas in cases of criminal liability, the wring doer is made to undergo the penalty prescribed for the wrong.

Remedial Liability

Whenever the law creates a duty, it also seeks to enforce the fulfilment of such a duty. Therefore, the law imposes remedial liability on him who fails to perform such a duty. But there are some exceptional circumstances when the law might accept the right of the plaintiff, and yet it may not enforce it.


Synonyms For Liability

financial obligation, indebtedness

Cite Term

To help you cite our definitions in your bibliography, here is the proper citation layout for the three major formatting styles, with all of the relevant information filled in.

Page URL
Modern Language Association (MLA):
Liability. Payroll & Accounting Heaven Ltd. April 04, 2020
Chicago Manual of Style (CMS):
Liability. Payroll & Accounting Heaven Ltd. (accessed: April 04, 2020).
American Psychological Association (APA):
Liability. Retrieved April 04, 2020, from website:

Definition Sources

Definitions for Liability are sourced/syndicated and enhanced from:

  • A Dictionary of Economics (Oxford Quick Reference)
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Accounting
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Business & Management

This glossary post was last updated: 18th March 2020.