Injury victims have certain obligations when they are pursuing compensation for their damages. For example, they must prove their injury was caused by another’s negligence. They must also prove they took reasonable care to prevent their injuries or minimize their impact. In other words, victims have an obligation to seek treatment and continue that treatment, as recommended by doctors.
If you were injured in an accident, let our car crash lawyers in Fort Worth review your claim to see what legal options may be available to you. We are prepared to help prove negligence and that you acted reasonably to prevent/mitigate your injuries.
The consultation is free and there are no upfront fees.
What Does Duty to Mitigate Damages Mean?
The mitigation of damages means taking reasonable precautions to prevent an accident or injuries. In accident cases, the party who suffered the injury often has a legal requirement to prevent worsening of his or her injuries, losses and other damages.
Some of the reasonable precautions associated with personal injury cases may depend on the type of accident that caused your injuries. In a car accident case, motorists are responsible for driving in a manner that will help prevent a potential collision. For example:
- Focused driving – Make sure your attention is on the road and not on your cellphone, radio or other distractions in your vehicle.
- Defensive driving – Be aware of what other drivers on the road and pedestrians on the street are doing to try and anticipate their actions.
- Safe driving – Follow the rules of the road and drive sober.
Your duty to mitigate your damages also extends to preventing serious injuries if you are unable to prevent the accident from occurring. Mitigation of injuries could include:
- Wearing a seatbelt
- Moving your vehicle off the road
- Seeking immediate medical attention
- Following your doctor’s orders for treatment
Refusing medical treatment for your injuries after the crash could hurt your case, just as failure to wear a seatbelt can.
Am I Required to Mitigate Economic Damages?
In most cases, injury victims are also required to mitigate their economic damages, such as medical bills and lost wages.
When it comes to mitigating medical costs, an injury victim is not likely to be forced to go to a doctor who charges a cheaper consultation fee than another. Instead, mitigating medical costs means that an injury victim has a duty to see a doctor and undergo the recommended treatment to prevent his or her injuries from worsening. This is to help prevent a need for more serious and expensive treatment in the future.
However, it is important to note that not every recommended treatment must be followed to mitigate damages. For example, you may be recommended for surgery by one doctor. That does not mean you must undergo that surgery. You can choose to not get the surgery. However, you likely will not be eligible for the compensation you would have received had you gone through with the procedure.
In terms of lost wages, injury victims also have a legal duty to try and mitigate their damages by seeking alternative employment if they cannot go back to their old job. If you are claiming lost earning capacity because your job required long hours on your feet, but you can no longer do that, you must at least try to find a different job that would accommodate your injury.
Who Decides Whether I Mitigated My Damages?
Generally, the duty to mitigate damages is known as an affirmative defense from the liable party. This means it is an argument from the insurance company that they are not liable for your damages because you did not take reasonable precautions to prevent your damages or the worsening of your damages.
Because this is a defense from the liable party, it is not normally brought up in any official manner when negotiating a settlement – it may be given as a reason for a lowball settlement offer. The duty to mitigate damages is officially brought up when a lawsuit is filed, and a case goes to court. Therefore, the jury may be the one to decide if you took the necessary steps to mitigate your damages.
There may be some cases in which an objective third party may decide if you mitigated your damages, such as during arbitration or mediation.
Let Us Help. Call Today
Proving another party’s negligent actions caused your injuries, and that you took reasonable steps to prevent those injuries may be stressful when you are trying to focus on your health. That is why it is important to work with a knowledgeable attorney who may be able to help you build a strong case for the compensation you need.
Our attorneys have over 50 years of combined experience and have been helping injury victims recover compensation for medical bills, lost wages and other damages.
Call (817) 920-9000 to schedule a free consultation.