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How to Mitigate Damages in Personal Injury Claims

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How to Mitigate Damages in Personal Injury Claims

Damage mitigation is a term used in lawsuits and refers to the steps the plaintiff should take to minimize damages that occurred in the accident for which they’re being sued. These steps include everything a “reasonable person” would do to lessen the physical, mental, and financial damages.

Insurance companies and defendants often use damage mitigation to lower costs and avoid paying compensation. If it’s determined that you’ve failed to mitigate damages, the parties at fault won’t be liable for your losses. But as an injured party, you’re obligated to follow these rules, even if it lowers your claim’s value and, ultimately, the settlement.

The role of damage mitigation in personal injury claims can, therefore, be quite significant, and knowing how to avoid being accused of failing to mitigate damages isn’t always clear and straightforward. If your case makes it to court, the jury determines these steps and compares them with your actions during the trial.

This article will help you prepare for a potential trial and outline everything you can do after an injury to avoid failing to mitigate damages.

Don’t Refuse Medical Attention

Around 40% of people in the U.S. refuse medical treatment after injury due to cost. However, this could seriously harm your personal injury claim. Calling an ambulance or seeing a doctor shortly after an accident is vital regardless of whether you feel any pain or not. Internal bleeding, bruises, broken bones, etc., could be temporarily undetectable and masked by adrenaline. But these injuries can come back to haunt you further down the line.

Some injuries are only noticeable days or weeks after the accident. If a medical professional doesn’t check you over right away, and the responding police officer doesn’t write them as part of the report, they might be considered unrelated to your case. This can ultimately result in lower compensation. All X-rays, medication, hospital stays, and treatment won’t be covered by the party at fault, and you’ll have to pay out of your own pocket.

In the interest of your health and a chance at receiving higher compensation, let a medical professional examine you as soon as possible after an incident occurs. Otherwise, you’ll be accused of failing to mitigate the situation.

Follow Doctor’s Treatment Plan

Like medical attention, subsequent treatment and doctor’s orders also fall into the damage mitigation category. If surgery, physical therapy, medication, work restrictions, and similar can be proven to help your injuries and condition, defendants can use them as damage mitigation.

Treatments might leave you with some unexpected expenses, particularly a cast, sling, brace, crutches, and medication. However, this can all lead to better compensation.

Look For Work if You Lose Some Wages

In March 2021, 79% of civilian workers had the right to paid sick leave. Still, many people lose wages and other income while recovering from an injury. Additionally, if you are unable to work the same job as before the accident, the chances of returning to your previous line of work are minuscule.

Injured parties often ask for compensation for this outcome. However, seeking additional employment is one of the damage mitigation practices you must take beforehand. The defendant can show that you had opportunities to find work and make up for your lost wages, therefore proving that you failed to mitigate damages.

To become eligible for lost wages compensation, apply for several positions to prove your credibility and convince the jury that you tried mitigating damages. Even if you aren’t hired by any of the companies you have applied to, you’ll have evidence that you’ve tried.

Is Damage Mitigation the Same as Shared Fault Negligence?

Although damage mitigation sounds like shared fault rules or contributory negligence, these two cases are quite different. Both help “mitigate” the damage, but while damage mitigation refers to actions you have taken after the injury to attempt to improve your circumstances, contributory negligence is strictly tied to your doings before the accident.

In the case of a car accident, this refers to wearing a seatbelt, not driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol, or not driving recklessly. Failing to mitigate an accident before it happens increases the percentage of your fault for it. If the percentage passes 51%, you’re not eligible for any damage recovery.

Continue Taking Preventive Measures Even After the Accident

Once an accident happens, your “job” as an involved party isn’t over. Even if you’re the victim of someone else’s negligence and suffering as a result, you’re responsible for your own recovery and damage control. If you fail to remedy the consequences of your own injury, you might not be eligible for compensation and jury awards.

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