If you’re injured because of someone else’s mistake, the law expects you to care for yourself and not let the injury worsen. Mitigating damages means you should make reasonable efforts to heal from your injuries.
In a personal injury case, if you don’t try to get better or ignore your doctor’s advice, you may receive less compensation for your injuries. The defense will argue that you could have lessened the harm but chose not to; therefore, they shouldn’t have to pay for the extra damage.
This idea exists to keep things fair and prevent someone from having to pay for additional problems that weren’t their fault. So, after an accident, remember that taking steps to recover isn’t just good for your health. Doing so could also affect your legal case.
What Does the Law Say About Mitigating Damages?
In personal injury cases, you should know an important rule: do your best to get better and keep your injuries from worsening. This rule is part of the Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code-Section 147.123 b. During a trial, the finders of fact must consider if you did everything reasonable to limit the harm you suffered.
The finders of fact are jury members or the judge. They look at all the evidence to decide if you took the steps needed to avoid extra harm after an accident. If you didn’t, the person who caused your injury won’t have to pay for the full extent of your damages.
Remember, this law is all about being fair. It’s there to ensure that the person who hurt you doesn’t pay for damage you could have prevented by following your doctor’s orders or seeking timely medical care.
How Does Mitigating Damages Apply to Personal Injury Cases?
How much you’re expected to reduce your losses can depend on your unique situation. The principle behind this is that as a victim, you’re supposed to try to limit the financial hit you take. The legal system looks at what an average, sensible person would do in your shoes, both in spending money for recovery and in avoiding unnecessary costs.
The whole point of this is to ensure that victims aren’t purposely letting their losses pile up just to get more money. It also protects the person who caused the injury from paying for over-the-top expenses if someone intentionally made their injuries worse.
Refusing Medical Care
When someone has a slip and fall, they might initially think they’ve just got a bump on the head. This is a common reaction when the injury doesn’t seem serious. Suppose that individual refuses medical attention, feeling it’s unnecessary. But later, they decided to sue the property owner because that bump on the head developed into a traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Here’s where the situation gets complicated. The injured person could be examined and treated right after the fall. If they felt fine except for a small bump, many would do the same and might not discover the true severity of their injury until symptoms worsened.
The key questions are: How quickly did the person seek medical advice after the fall? What if they delayed seeing a doctor for weeks, during which a mild head injury evolved into a more serious condition?
What if a person does not follow their doctor’s advice, refuses necessary treatments, or chooses unconventional methods? The property owner’s defense against an injury claim may then become stronger. The key factor in determining the outcome of the claim is whether the injured person’s actions were reasonable given the circumstances. If their actions worsened their injury, it may affect their ability to receive compensation for damages.
Mitigating Lost Wages
If an injury from a slip and fall leads to job loss, the person hurt isn’t off the hook. They’re expected to look for a new job to limit their financial losses. This is part of what’s known as mitigating damages. If they just stay at home and don’t try to find work elsewhere, the defense will likely challenge this. The defendant can argue that the person didn’t do their part to lessen the impact.
The same is true if someone’s car is totaled, and now they can’t drive to work. The law would expect them to figure out another way to get there. This may include using public transport or a ride-sharing service. If they don’t, the defense might say they should have done more to avoid that loss of wages.
It’s essential to show that you’ve made a genuine effort to reduce the financial hit from the accident.
Who Has to Prove Mitigation of Damages?
In the legal tug-of-war of a personal injury lawsuit, the injured party must show how they were harmed and what it cost them. But the spotlight turns if the other side says the injured person could have done more to lessen the damage. It’s then up to the defendant to prove it.
The defense must show that the injured person didn’t do the reasonable things that could have kept their losses lower. They don’t need to show that the injured person could have dodged the injuries entirely. However, they must prove that the injured party didn’t make enough effort to keep costs down after the fact.
The might court might look at the following when considering mitigating damages:
- The time it took for the injured person to get medical help
- What chances the injured person had to cut down on their losses
- Whether the steps to reduce the damages were affordable, considering their financial situation.
Mitigation of damages isn’t black and white. It’s a complex area where one person’s ‘reasonable’ efforts might not seem so obvious to another. This is why getting a skilled attorney could be crucial. They can sift through the details and help clarify what steps were expected of you after an injury.
Consult with an Experienced Dallas, TX Personal Injury Attorney
It is challenging to navigate a personal injury claim while attempting to recover from your injuries. Jay Murray Personal Injury Lawyers is here to guide you through this process. Reach out to our Dallas personal injury lawyer at (214) 855-1420 to learn more about mitigating damages.