One thing you need to do if you have a claim in court.

By Peter Janowski.

Watching the antics of our neighbours to the south, where huge settlements are doled out in court rooms, one can be excused for dreaming of a life-changing payout after suffering some serious but non life threatening injury to self or property.

In Canada you are emphatically required to do everything in your power to mitigate damages.

If you don’t mitigate damages you risk losing out on judgements or awards to cover what you could have protected but did not.

For example, if you are a landlord and your tenant moves out breaking the lease, you must try to rent out the home or apartment. You may not “sit” on the property in order to “go after” the tenant. You also may not deny legitimate offers to rent the property in order to increase the time that it will sit empty.

You: That no good so-and-so moved out from my building and broke the lease.

Judge: How long has it sat vacant?

You: 11 months

Judge: How long was it vacant in the preceding 5 years.

You: never

Judge: Next case.

It seems like common sense but when you house is on fire, you must call 911.

Similarly in a Workman’s Compensation case you must take appropriate medical steps if you are hurt on the job. This is a free country so you do have an option to pick your doctor, but you can’t expect a further aggravated injury is compensated because you were doctor shopping.

So when you are driving, you avoid collisions.

And the perennial favourite, “the slip and fall”. Are you dreaming of a nice windfall? Are you looking for that sidewalk in disrepair or that haphazardly stacked tower of creamed corn at the grocery store to provide your next Caribbean vacation? If you are you might want to be aware of this: when you are aware of the puddle or broken piece of concrete you must take necessary precautions (i.e. mitigate) and go around the hazard. It is your responsibility.

Awards are for things like lost time at work and medical expenses not covered by OHIP. If you are hoping for a pain and suffering bonus or a huge payout for punitive damages - to teach the grocery store a lesion, you may want to look historically at what kinds of judgements are passed down in Canada?

We are a far less litigious country than our neighbours to the south. Those payouts don’t make the evening news because they don’t happen.

So instead of throwing yourself to the ground breaking an ankle and cracking your head on the pavement, a better idea for when you see some broken concrete on city property is to call the city works department and report it – isn’t that the kind of society you want to live in?

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