If you were injured in a car accident, construction accident, or other personal injury incident, you could be entitled to compensation for the damages you suffered. Depending on the circumstances, these damages could be substantial and include medical expenses, property damage repairs or replacement, physical therapy, lost income, lost earning capacity, pain, suffering, and more.
However, personal injury claimants do not have the right to let their damages run up exponentially when there are ways to minimize their losses. Instead, claimants have a duty to mitigate their damages so that they only pursue a fair amount of compensation from the negligent party.
Injured victims have a legal duty to mitigate their damages after a personal injury. This means that they must make reasonable efforts to minimize the harm they suffer. For example, injured victims should seek prompt medical care to avoid suffering more serious injuries.
Failing to mitigate damages can reduce the amount of compensation you can recover in your personal injury claim. Depending on the circumstances, failing to mitigate could even give the insurance company grounds to deny your claim altogether.
The insurance company or defendant may argue that by failing to mitigate damages, you suffered economic losses you otherwise could have avoided. If this argument is successful, failing to take reasonable steps to minimize your losses could lead to a substantial loss in compensation you could receive.
Now that you know that you should mitigate your damages, you might be wondering: How can I mitigate damages? Here are steps that you can take to mitigate damages in your personal injury case:
After nearly any type of personal injury incident, you should seek prompt medical attention. Taking this simple step can help you quickly identify your injuries, reduce medical bills, and speed up your recovery.
One of the easiest ways for a defendant to argue that you did not mitigate damages is to show you did not follow your doctor’s orders. Failing to follow doctors’ orders results in $300 billion a year in wasted costs and often increases hospital stays. Additionally, failing to follow your doctor’s orders can transform a simple injury into a permanent impairment.
Following your doctor’s orders may consist of taking the following steps:
On top of following your doctor’s orders, it is important to promptly seek medical care instead of delaying it.
You should be in close contact with your doctor regarding your prognosis and limitations. When your doctor instructs you that you are fine to return to work, you should generally do so. You may be able to work a different position or on light duty before you can resume your normal work activities. If you disagree with this assessment, you can seek a second opinion.
In order to mitigate damages, you may need to pay reasonable costs. For example, you may need to pay for expenses such as:
While you don’t necessarily have to pay for exorbitant costs or every possible expense, you are generally required to take reasonable steps to mitigate your damages.
In a 2017 case, Cody v. State of New York, the plaintiff was hurt at work by a piece of mental piercing his eye. His vision became blurry and he suffered pain and swelling. He had surgery, but his eyesight was still impacted.
Three doctors recommended that the plaintiff get glasses. The plaintiff did not get glasses. He also did not take any other steps to improve his vision. He suffered more pain and suffering and could not find employment. The court found he failed to mitigate his damages by not trying to improve his vision by taking reasonable steps such as wearing glasses.
If your claim is resolved through an insurer, the insurance company may determine whether you adequately mitigated damages. If you file a lawsuit, the judge or jury will make the determination. Various factors could play into the decision, such as:
The precise factors that will influence your claim will depend on the facts and circumstances involved.
If you would like more information about your duty to mitigate damages in your personal injury case, contact an experienced Bronx personal injury lawyer. Most attorneys in the area offer a free consultation to review your situation and provide you with helpful legal advice. Contact us at Oresky & Associates, PLLC at (718) 993-9999 to get a free consultation.
"*" indicates required fields