What is the duty to mitigate damages?

Mitigation of damages is a required element of tort law, as well as contract law. It means that a plaintiff has an obligation to lessen or reduce their damages if they can. For example, let’s say that a person has his or her arm broken during a fall on a slippery floor in a department store. The person may well have a good case of negligence against the store.

However, if the person refuses to receive medical treatment and the arm worsens, the duty to mitigate may lessen the amount of recovery. Let’s say that a person loses her job as a result of the negligence of another person. The person cannot simply sit at home for more than three months and expect to receive lost wages for that amount of time. The duty to mitigate damages would require the person to seek other employment more quickly.