When someone is injured as a result of the negligence of another party, then he or she has an obligation to take reasonable actions that will mitigate or minimize the impact and loss concerning the injuries. This involves the active seeking of another means to earn a living if the current line of work is no longer applicable for his or her condition, as well as to seek medical attention to alleviate the injuries sustained. Defendants in a personal injury case may try to minimize the damages they need to pay if they can prove that the plaintiff did not fulfill his or her duty to reduce the losses following an injury.
The obligation to mitigate damages
Even accident victims whose injuries were entirely of another person’s fault have an obligation to take actions to prevent further loss, injuries and damages to themselves. The ‘mitigation of damages’ rule will deny a plaintiff further compensation for any succeeding damages that could have been avoided, if only he or she took reasonable care of it. It is the responsibility of a plaintiff to act in a way that any other reasonable person would. Moreover, it is the duty of an injured person to exercise reasonable judgment in choosing a doctor and treatment method for his or her injuries, to follow through with checkups and to take the medication that has been prescribed.
If an injury requires that surgery be performed, the plaintiff can choose to do it or not. However, if the court finds that the effects of the injury could have been prevented with the surgery, then it may not award compensation for such damages – if it can be determined that a reasonable person would have chosen otherwise.
Failure to seek medical attention
The failure to immediately seek medical attention for injuries sustained in an accident could also lessen the compensation that the injured will receive. If the injury is obvious, the court expects the plaintiff to act like a reasonable person in such a way that he or she will immediately have it checked and treated.
Disregarding medical advice or refusal of medical treatment
If the doctor prescribes a treatment method or other advice related to the injury and the plaintiff does not follow, then he or she cannot claim for the damages that persisted or followed as a result of such refusal.
Alternative treatment methods
Many individuals choose alternative methods of treatment such as chiropractic, acupuncture and homeopathic remedies that may not be seen as the best course of action from a doctor’s point of view. The court may see this as an unreasonable action on the part of the plaintiff and as a result, may deny him or her of compensation for the injuries sustained.
Failure to seek new employment
If an accident leaves the plaintiff no longer fit for his current line of work, then the court expects him or her to seek for a new job to support him or herself. However, the failure to do so may also cause the court to reduce the damages – as a reasonable person would not just sit idly and watch as his or her earnings fly by to pay for the expenses. This is dependent on the severity of the injury.
Contact W.T. Johnson to discuss any questions and concerns that you may have regarding your duty as a plaintiff to mitigate damages.