Mitigation of damages is a legal concept that commonly arises in personal injury cases and breach of contract claims. It means that the person who suffered an injury or loss must take reasonable steps to minimize the harm they suffer. If the injured party does not mitigate their damages, the party that caused the harm is not responsible for any additional damage caused.
While this concept may seem unfair, it is intended to ensure that a defendant is only required to pay for the harm they actually caused and prevents the injured party from receiving a windfall.
Mitigation of Damages, also known as the “Doctrine of Avoidable Consequences,” is often used by insurance adjusters and defense lawyers to reduce a damage award in a personal injury case or contract dispute. It means you are legally obligated to minimize your losses if you were injured or cheated. If you do not take reasonable steps to reduce the losses you suffered, the court can reduce the monetary award you receive.
To understand the duty to mitigate damages, it is helpful to know how damages are calculated in the first place.
In a typical personal injury claim, an injured person is entitled to recover compensation for:
To calculate the monetary impact of the accident and your injuries, you add your economic damages plus your non-economic damages to arrive at the total value of your claim. One way that insurance adjusters and defense lawyers try to reduce the total amount of compensation you are owed is by claiming that you failed to mitigate your damages.
The duty to mitigate damages can take various forms depending on the nature of the accident and your injuries. Here are some examples:
If you were hurt in an accident, you have a mitigation of damages duty. You are expected to take reasonable steps to reduce the consequences of the accident.
For example, if you sprained your ankle or wrist, you may need to purchase a brace. If you broke your leg, you would be expected to pay for a cast and crutches.
If you do not take precautions to reduce your damages and accumulate additional expenses that you would not have otherwise had, the court can reduce your damage award, and you will not be able to recover compensation for these losses.
But if you incur additional expenses to mitigate your damages, you can recover compensation for those expenditures. For example, if you were hurt in a car accident and had to purchase a cane, you can be reimbursed for the cost of the cane. Conversely, if a doctor were to find that not purchasing a cane made your condition worse, you may not be entitled to compensation for additional injuries you suffered because you did not use the cane.
The duty to mitigate damages is an affirmative defense. The defendant must prove that you did not take reasonable steps to minimize your losses. Defendants and insurance adjusters use mitigation of damages to try to reduce their liability after an accident.
Your actions after an accident can significantly impact the compensation you are entitled to receive. If you were hurt in an accident, the personal injury lawyers at McKinney Vos can help to determine your mitigation of damages during your case.. We will answer your questions, explain your options, and help maximize your financial compensation. Contact us today to schedule your confidential, no-cost consultation.