Judging gender in tort thresholds

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Compensation system design and judgments in individual cases reflect the painful losses law recognises, and those it discounts or ignores. Thirty years ago, Reg Graycar’s pioneering research highlighted the gendered nature of injury damages assessment, including the differential treatment of women’s work. Since that time, the tort threshold – a less visible but increasingly significant technology of injury assessment – has become entrenched in Australian injury law. Tort thresholds set a required level of injury or loss that must be demonstrated before an injured person can seek damages. They require judges to determine whether a claimant’s injury is sufficiently serious to merit legal recognition. Through content analysis of judges’ threshold decisions in the Victorian transport accident compensation system, this article explores the treatment of injury impacts on plaintiffs’ paid work and unpaid domestic and care work. It illustrates that the gendered assumptions of tort and damages law continue to influence the categories of injury impacts that are valued by law.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)104-128
Number of pages25
JournalGriffith Law Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Tort law
  • Gender
  • Injury compensation
  • socio-legal studies

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