An injured party has a duty to mitigate damages. This duty requires the person to take reasonable steps to limit the damages and harm they sustain because of another party’s negligence or intentional torts. Failing to mitigate damages could reduce the amount of money you receive for a personal injury case in Augusta, GA.
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How Does the Duty To Mitigate Work in a Personal Injury Case?
When you are injured in an accident or other incident, you can sustain different types of damages. Damages include physical injuries, emotional harm, and financial losses. At-fault parties can be held financially responsible for these damages.
The duty to mitigate is the legal obligation to take reasonable steps to prevent your damages from becoming worse. The standard is based on what a “reasonable person” would have done in a similar situation. A “reasonable person” is someone who uses ordinary prudence and care.
A common complaint from insurance companies is that a person did not seek immediate medical care or follow their doctor’s treatment plan. The insurance company alleges the failure to receive medical treatment caused the person’s injuries or condition to worsen, which increased other damages.
Why Does the Insurance Company Allege a Failure To Mitigate Damages?
The mitigation of damages prevents a party from receiving compensation for avoidable damages. In other words, if you could have taken reasonable steps to avoid the loss, the insurance company may assert that it isn’t liable. The failure to mitigate could effectively reduce the amount the insurance company pays for your injury claim.
For example, suppose you hurt your back in a slip and fall accident. Your doctor prescribed two weeks out of work and physical therapy. However, you went back to work the following day and only attended one-half of the physical therapy visits.
Now, you have trouble standing or sitting in the same position for long periods. Walking is also painful. Therefore, your doctor prescribes several weeks out of work and additional physical therapy.
The insurance company alleges that you would not have lost more wages or required additional medical treatment had you followed the doctor’s initial treatment plan. If it can prove its case, a court could find you are not entitled to compensation for these additional damages.
Typically, failure to mitigate damages is raised during a personal injury lawsuit. It is up to the jurors to determine if your actions constitute a failure to mitigate damages.
The insurance company or defense has the burden of proving their allegations. In many cases, it involves hiring medical experts to explain how your actions caused you to suffer greater harm. You would hire medical experts to testify that your condition worsened for reasons other than your actions.
However, the insurance company might use this argument during settlement negotiations to pressure you to accept a lower settlement amount. Talk with your lawyer about the merits of this argument and the chances that the company could prove its case in court.
Steps To Avoid Being Accused of Failing To Mitigate Damages
The steps you take following an injury or accident could help you avoid accusations that you failed to mitigate damages. Things you can do to protect your right to fair compensation include:
- See a doctor immediately following an accident or injury
- Seek a second opinion immediately if you disagree with your doctor
- Follow through on all medical procedures and tests
- Attend and participate in all therapy sessions
- Do not return to work or normal activities until your doctor releases you to do so
- If your doctor says you can return to work on light duty, make a good-faith effort to return to work
- Document your injuries and recovery, including the steps you take to improve the healing process
If an insurance adjuster tells you that you are partially to blame for your injuries or the severity of your injuries, call our Augusta personal injury attorneys. You need to prepare to fight allegations of blame and liability to avoid receiving a much lower amount for your injury claim.
What Damages Could I Lose if I Failed To Mitigate Damages?
The court could determine that you are barred from receiving any damages that would not have occurred but for your conduct. That includes economic damages for your loss of income and medical bills. It also includes non-economic damages for increased pain and suffering.
The amount you lose depends on the facts of the case. Working with a lawyer can help you minimize the impact on your final settlement amount.
Contact Us for a Free Consultation With Our Augusta Personal Injury Lawyers
Our Augusta personal injury attorneys diligently fight to get you the maximum compensation for your personal injury claim. Call us to schedule a free case evaluation to discuss how we can help you after an accident or personal injury.