Mitigation of Damages Law & Legal Definition


A person who claims damages as a result of another's negligence or breach of contract has a duty under the law to "mitigate" those damages, so that they must take advantage of any reasonable opportunity under the circumstances to reduce or minimize the loss or damage.

For example, a person injured due to the negligence of another has a duty to seek treatment for the injuries to prevent the condition from becoming aggravated. In a breach of a lease by a tenant, the aggrieved landlord must make reasonable efforts to relet the property to minimize the lost rent payments due. In a mortgage, a duty may exist to prevent and mitigate the loss, including good faith efforts by the mortgagor to obtain a cure of the default, collect amounts due under the loan, inspect and appraise the property and effectuate the early disposition of the property.

For example, when an employee files a claim for wrongful discharge, he/she may seek to recover damages for lost wages. However, if he/she fails to seek other employment, the court may limit the amount of damages for lost wages to those that the court deems to be a reasonable period of unemployment, under the reasoning that the employee failed to mitigate damages by obtaining other employment. In a further example, when a person is injured in an auto accident he/she may seek damages for injuries. However, if he/she fails to get medical attention and an infection develops, the court may exclude recovery for medical bills, lost wages, and suffering related to the infection.