A person who has been damaged by another person has the duty to take reasonable actions to mitigate, or reduce, those damages. This concept applies to plaintiffs who are suing someone else for damages that were caused by the defendant. If the plaintiff has made no effort to reduce his damages, or if it seems like he is acting recklessly in order to increase the damages and thus his compensation in the trial, this will be taken into account, and his compensation will be reduced.
What this means is that while you are suing someone for a personal injury, you must continue to try to reduce your damages. You must not do anything that would increase your damages. In addition, you must not fail to take an action that would reasonably reduce your damages.
This concept can be difficult to understand, but there are a few common sense examples that demonstrate how this duty works. They are:
- Refusing surgery
- Not receiving medical attention
- Refusing treatment and advice
- Using alternative treatments
- Not seeking new employment
You are expected to undergo surgeries that would mitigate damages. For example, if you were injured in a car accident, and there was a surgery that would prevent permanent damage to your legs, the court expects you to have the surgery. If you do not have the surgery, and you then try to sue the person for permanent damage to your leg, you will have your compensation reduced, because it was your decision not to have the surgery.
Not Receiving Medical Attention
Similar to refusing surgery, the court expects you to act reasonably and seek medical attention. If your injuries become worse because you never consulted a doctor, the court will not give you compensation for the full value of the injury. The court will determine that you acted unreasonably by never getting medical care.
Refusing Treatment and Advice
If a doctor tells you how to minimize your injury or how to recover faster, but you refuse, the court will also determine that you failed your duty to mitigate damages. For example, if you missed additional weeks of work because you didn’t listen to medical advice, the court will not compensate you for those additional weeks.
Using Alternative Treatments
Courts typically do not compensate for chiropractic, homeopathic, and holistic treatments. If you accumulate bills from these types of treatments and do not seek attention from a licensed doctor, a court may decide that you were not acting reasonably and will refuse to compensate you.
Not Seeking New Employment
In many personal injury cases, the plaintiff will include lost wages as part of his damages. If the court determines that you could have looked for and worked at another job, but refused to do so, they will reduce the amount you receive for lost wages.
The concept of mitigating damages can be confusing, especially for someone who has never been involved in a personal injury lawsuit before. Always consult Bighorn Law to make sure you are acting reasonably, and that way you won’t have to worry about your damages being reduced.