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Do the plaintiff’s actions affect damages awarded?

Damages are awarded in personal injury cases in connection with the actions of the defendant. But the plaintiff’s actions do factor into the amount awarded, both in cases that are settled and in those that go to trial.

Under the comparative negligence standard observed in most states, if the plaintiff is partially to blame for the accident, then the defendant will only have to pay damages to the degree that he or she is responsible. Under the contributory negligence standard observed in a few states, the plaintiff may be unable to collect any damages if he or she shares any of the blame for the accident. And most states may significantly reduce damages awarded to the plaintiff for failure to mitigate damages — for instance, if he or she fails to get proper medical treatment after an accident, which causes the injuries to be worse than they otherwise would have been.

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