Inflammatory responses in the liver--a central constituent of hepatic wound healing--can be self-limited or persistent depending on the aetiology, liver health state, concentration of toxins or pathogens, and the time frame of exposure to toxins or infection. In case the immune system eradicates a pathogen or in case toxin-exposure is transient, acute hepatitis resolves and the affected liver tissue regenerates ad integrum. However, in many cases liver damage remains chronic. Irrespective of the aetiology, chronic liver damage drives chronic hepatitis and hepatocyte death as well as compensatory proliferation, reflecting liver regeneration. Over time this potentially promotes further hepatic damage, fibrosis, cirrhosis and liver cancer. Here, we review the current knowledge on how chronic liver injury and inflammation is triggered and maintained, and how inflammation is linked to liver cancer. We also discuss the most frequently used animal models for damage or inflammation induced liver cancer and their suitability for conducting clinically relevant research.