When you’re injured in a car accident, you want to take action and hold the responsible driver accountable by seeking compensation for your medical bills, damage to your vehicle and emotional and physical pain and suffering. While your first instinct may be to maximize your losses, at least on paper or in your lawsuit, to recover the maximum amount of damages, this may not always be the right move.
The mitigation of damages rule states that every plaintiff who brings a personal injury lawsuit against a negligent party has a duty to take reasonable actions to minimize the effects of the injury and avoid any further losses or damages. Under this rule, an injured person should be doing all that he or she can to recover without causing further injuries.
Failing to mitigate your damages can put you in jeopardy in terms of your lawsuit. A personal injury lawsuit can be thrown out or undermined significantly if it can be demonstrated the plaintiff failed to mitigate damages. Consider the following when examining mitigation issues:
- Failing to seek medical attention: Any good lawyer will tell you that the first step you should take after a car accident is to go to the doctor. Even if you do not have any immediate injuries, or you feel completely fine, you should get checked out to assess how you feel and how your body has responded to the accident. Under the rule of mitigating damages, a reasonable person should get medical attention in a timely manner. If a delay caused an injury to worsen, this could negatively affect a personal injury case.
- Opting out of recommended surgery: If a doctor recommends surgery to treat your injuries and you choose not to undergo the procedure, you may not recover damages stemming from that injury, especially if the injury could have been lessened as a result of the surgery. If the injury is permanent, the plaintiff might not recover damages related to it.
- Failing to follow the doctor’s advice: If your doctor recommends you undergo physical therapy, for example, or rest and take it easy, and you refuse treatment or don’t follow the doctor’s advice, this could hurt your case. Refusing to do what your doctor says can exacerbate or aggravate an existing condition, and if you attempt to seek damages from the defendant, you may not be successful.
- Seeking alternative treatment: Choosing to forgo mainstream medical choices in favor of alternative methods such as acupuncture, chiropractic care or homeopathic remedies may not seem reasonable to a judge or jury in a personal injury case.
Injured plaintiffs can be denied damages if the judge determines that the damages could have been reasonably avoided in the absence of any of the above actions or others that could impact a personal injury case.
For more information on your options following an accident or personal injury incident, and for help with your case, contact an attorney at Levine Law, a Denver personal injury law firm. We represent anyone who has been involved in an accident caused by someone else’s wrongdoing or negligence.