It’s a phrase used every so often in relation to lawsuits—or catastrophes: mitigating damages. But, many people don’t understand what mitigation of damages means. This week, Pleading Ignorance explains mitigation of damages and what it means to potential plaintiffs and, possibly, you.
Mitigation of damages means that a person should use reasonable care and diligence to avoid or minimize injury. That means that a victim (or plaintiff) should have done everything reasonably possible to avoid harm, or to at least minimize it. It does not mean that a plaintiff is required to move heaven and earth to avoid injury or harm, but it does mean that he or she must have done whatever is reasonable to avoid injury.
So, let’s take the example of a person injured in a car accident. If the person injured in the car accident does not obtain (or accept) necessary medical help following the accident, then any harm done as a result of not seeking medical help can be viewed as the victim’s fault—and perhaps not the fault of the other driver. It’s sort of like the “you can take a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink” adage. If you (as a hypothetical plaintiff in a car accident case) either refuse medical help or do not seek it out when you clearly should have, then you may be held responsible for it. If the horse doesn’t drink and gets dehydrated (or worse), who’s to blame? The horse.
So what might this mean for the plaintiff? Damages awarded to the plaintiff might be reduced if Read the rest of this entry »