Following an injury, a victim has the right to seek financial compensation from the responsible party. However, personal injury victims are required by law to act in a manner that minimizes their damages.
The requirement that an injury victim minimizes his or her damages is called mitigation of damages. In this article, we discuss the legal concept of mitigation of damages.
The mitigation of damages, which is also known as the doctrine of avoidable consequences, is the concept that an injury victim can’t recover injury-related expenses that could have been avoided with reasonable effort.
In other words, the requirement that an injury victim mitigates their damages prevents injured individuals from obtaining damages under circumstances in which they could have minimized the impact and cost of the injury.
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A personal injury victim is required by law to mitigate his or her damages. This duty means that a personal injury victim must take reasonable steps to limit the extent of his or her injuries.
For example, if possible, a person involved in a car accident should pull off the road to avoid being struck by another vehicle. In addition, an injured party should seek prompt medical care for his or her injuries following an accident.
A defendant in a personal injury lawsuit may raise the failure to mitigate damages as a defense. Although claiming that the other party failed to mitigate damages usually doesn’t totally absolve the defendant from liability in a personal injury lawsuit, it can reduce the total amount of damages that the defendant must pay the plaintiff.
However, to succeed in such a defense, the defendant in a personal injury lawsuit must prove that the plaintiff could have reasonably taken different actions that would have reduced the extent of his or her injuries.
Below are some examples of the failure to mitigate damages:
As noted above, a common example of a personal injury victim’s failure to mitigate damages involves medical treatment. When a personal injury plaintiff refuses medical treatment following an accident or fails to obtain medical treatment altogether, a defendant can argue that the plaintiff has failed to mitigate damages, thereby making his or her injury or injuries worse.
For example, suppose that a plaintiff in a personal injury case sues a driver who crashed into his or her vehicle. In this situation, if the victim sustained injuries, then it is likely that he or she would require medical treatment.
However, if the victim refused treatment that could have lessened the severity of the plaintiff’s injuries, then the defendant may be absolved from paying damages that wouldn’t have appeared if the victim had accepted the treatment.
To succeed in this situation, the defendant in the case would have to demonstrate that the procedure would have reduced the amount of the plaintiff’s pain and suffering or provided the plaintiff with increased function.
Although this wouldn’t totally absolve the defendant in the case from blame for the plaintiff’s injuries, it could potentially minimize the amount that he or she would have to pay in damages.
Another common example of a plaintiff’s failure to mitigate damages is the refusal to seek employment. Plaintiffs often seek financial compensation for lost wages in personal injury lawsuits.
However, if the defendant can prove that the plaintiff had opportunities to obtain employment but failed to do so, this could potentially reduce the plaintiff’s award. This is because, in personal injury law, there is a clear distinction between the inability to find work and the refusal to find work.
The mitigation of damages in a personal injury lawsuit can be a complicated issue. Therefore, if you’ve been injured in an accident, it is advisable that you seek legal guidance immediately to ensure that your damages aren’t reduced.
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If you’ve suffered an injury in Austin, Texas, you need an experienced Austin personal injury attorney in your corner. At FVF Law, we understand the difficulties involved in dealing with a serious injury.
Regardless of how you were injured, our experienced Texas attorneys are here to seek financial compensation on your behalf. In addition, we understand that not everyone can afford to pay for an attorney upfront following an accident. Due to this, our lawyers handle all our personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis. In other words, unless we win your case, you don’t owe us anything. If you are ready to begin the recovery process, please contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation at (512) 982-9328.
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