What do these common public liability terms mean

PUBLISHED 12 Oct 2018

Navigating public liability claims can be confusing and time consuming. You may have heard certain terms before when reading about legal cases or watching television shows about the law, but when you're dealing with these claims yourself, you may not know where to start.

Here is a brief look at the most common terms related to public liability claims.


An appeal refers to the application a person makes for a higher court to review a decision made by a lower court. The person who aims to challenge the decision is referred to as the "appellant."


Also referred to as "cause and effect," causation is used to determine whether a given outcome would have happened whether or not the first event in question occurred. One event would have to be the result of the other.


Also known as the "respondent" or the "accused," this is the person or entity against which the lawsuit or legal proceedings were initiated. The defendant has been charged with a criminal offence.

Duty of Care

This refers to our duty not to cause harm to another individual that we could reasonable foresee. It stipulates that each person has a legal responsibility, or duty, to take reasonable care of those around us. In cases regarding negligence accusations, duty of care is often the first point that must be addressed.

Economic loss

Economic loss refers to the earnings, or capacity to earn, that a person loses due to a personal injury. It only refers to financial loss and does not refer to the injuries incurred.

General damages

General damages refers to the total money awarded in a lawsuit for personal injuries or other losses, including breach of contract or gross negligence, that do not have a clear monetary cost. The total should reflect what the plaintiff actually lost in value.


The judgment is what the court orders at the end of a hearing. The judge will often give reasons for his or her judgment, and will sometimes refer to relevant law or previous cases that were used in making the decision.


Also known as the "applicant," the plaintiff is the party, whether an individual or an entity, that initiates legal proceedings in court against someone else, either another individual or an entity. The plaintiff begins proceedings for a lawsuit.

If you're still unsure about common public liability legal terms, our team of lawyers can answer any questions you may have. Contact us at Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers for more information.

Call us now on 1800 004 878 to book a free appointment with one of my compensation experts, or email your enquiry.