When an individual has suffered injuries or losses due to the deliberate or accidental actions of another individual, the former must take reasonable action to prevent any additional losses or injuries. This instance is referred to as mitigation of damages. This legal term can reduce the amount of damages a defendant must pay a plaintiff if a civil court trial ensues from a claim made by the plaintiff against the defendant. This doctrine of mitigation of damages is also referred to legally as minimization of damages or doctrine of avoidable consequences.
Mitigation of damages is commonly done in cases regarding breach of contracts or tort law. When an individual suffers losses from a breach of contract, he or she must take steps in order to prevent any other losses to occur. For example, a contractor is hired to build a house. When the individual who hired the contractor terminates the contract to build, the contractor prevents any further building rather than continuing to build the house, which leads to greater losses. The same circumstances apply to tort law; the plaintiff’s actions in relation to the case may reduce the damages awarded to him or her. For example, if the defendant was provoked by the plaintiff to commit the action, the plaintiff may receive fewer damages.
The doctrine of mitigation of damages prevents plaintiffs from taking advantage of the defendant in a case wherein the defendant is to pay damages to the plaintiff. This safeguard prevents any unfair liability the defendant may have to shoulder due to his actions.