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[–] Copernicus 0 points 0 points (+0|-0) ago  (edited ago)

Liable is used generally to mean culpability. That could be in a civil or criminal sense. Damages would generally be a civil case, wrongful death or negligence brought by the person or the family. And that can be brought regardless of whether the driver is charged criminally.

But if they have you on video stopped and then, without any reason (as the OP seemed to suggest) you decide to just run over protesters, please believe you will be charged with 2nd degree murder at least if one of them dies. Many states allow the government to cover their bases by including all lesser charges for the jury to consider as well. So if they don't get you on 2nd degree murder, they can still get you on manslaughter without any extra effort.

Of course, these protesters are so annoying that you might find a jury to acquit. But people really shouldn't bet on that.

Edit: if you were referring to damages for the accident (aside from the striking the person) then it depends on the state. Some states have no fault statutes. I don't remember exactly what they say, but it shares liability for damages regardless of who is actually at fault.