A number of our posts have focused on who can be held liable in an accident, and what the injured person may be able to recover in terms of monetary damages. But in the midst of pursuing compensation for an injury, many plaintiffs may not realize that there may be a continuing duty for the plaintiff to mitigate their damages.
Essentially, this means that a person who has been injured due to someone else’s negligence has an obligation to take reasonable steps minimize the effects of the injury. This may include getting medical treatment and following a doctor’s advice regarding rehabilitation regimens. It may also include restricting one’s employment duties (i.e. not lifting a certain amount of weight while recovering or limiting the number of hours standing up). It may also include having a particular surgery to reduce the damage of an ailment.
What qualifies as reasonable steps is determined by what a reasonable prudent person would do to avoid the ongoing damages of an injury, or to expedite the recovery process. If an injured person fails to mitigate damages, he or she could be denied the entire amount of compensation they could be entitled to.
Indeed, the obligation to seek or continue medical treatment depends on the extent of the injury and whether a reasonable person would have known to seek treatment after they were injured. After all, where an injury did not seem serious, but internal bleeding is later found, this could be an exception to that obligation.
For more information on an injured party’s obligation to mitigate damages, contact a personal injury attorney.