Many people are unsure about what to do after suffering a personal injury. While there are many steps to take after an injury, injured victims also have a duty to mitigate their damages.
Below, we explain what it means to mitigate or minimize damages from a personal injury and how failing to do so could affect your claim for compensation.
If you have questions about what to do after suffering a personal injury caused by another’s negligence, call Friedman, Domiano and Smith for assistance. Our firm has been helping injured victims in northeast Ohio for decades. During that time, we have recovered millions to help people move forward from an unexpected accident. Our services come with no upfront costs.
Contact us for legal assistance: 216-621-0070.
What Is Failure To Mitigate Damages?
Mitigating damages means taking reasonable steps to minimize damages. For example, injury victims should take reasonable action to avoid unnecessary medical costs or other expenses. Failure to take reasonable action to avoid further damages could affect the victim’s claim for compensation.
What Are Reasonable Steps For Minimizing Injuries and Damages?
Another way to think about mitigating damages is being proactive to prevent further damages. For example, car crash victims should move their cars away from passing traffic to reduce the risk of another collision. Injured victims should also try to secure damaged property to prevent further damage.
Being proactive can also mean erring on the side of caution. For instance, even if you think you have minor injuries, you should go to the hospital right away. This shows that you are taking your injuries seriously. If your injuries are worse than you realize, immediate treatment could help shorten the healing process. Immediate treatment could also prevent additional medical problems.
It is also reasonable for injured victims to continue their medical treatment and not skip appointments. If there is a standard treatment for injury and you refuse that treatment, it could be viewed as failing to mitigate damages. This is particularly true if the treatment has been shown to be effective for your type of injury.
Another aspect of mitigating damages is not racking up unnecessary expenses. For example, victims should avoid excessively expensive or unnecessary treatment.
What Is a Reasonable Cost to Mitigate Damages?
There is no set cost or figure for this. However, victims should spend the money needed to improve their condition. Not purchasing a sling, cast, brace or mobility aid because of the cost could be viewed as failing to mitigate damages.
If doctors say there is a device or medication you need to improve your condition or help manage symptoms, following their advice could be seen as minimizing your injuries.
Do You Have a Duty To Mitigate Lost Wages?
The insurance company may also try to reduce the value of your lost wages claim if you did not return to work when doctors said you could. Insurers may claim failure to mitigate lost wages if you refused light duty or did not try to get a different type of job. Even though you may have been unable to return to your previous job, there may be other types of work that you are qualified to do.
Do You Have the Right To Refuse Surgery/Treatment Plans?
Ultimately, decisions about your medical treatment are yours. If you feel that a surgical procedure or treatment is too risky, you can decide whether or not to go through with it. If you would rather do physical therapy and rehabilitation for a back injury than undergo surgery, that is up to you.
The important thing is to understand how decisions about your medical treatment and damages may affect your claim for compensation. If a treatment has been shown to be effective and you refuse it in favor of more expensive medical care, the insurance company will probably try to deny or underpay that portion of your claim.
Sometimes refusing treatment could result in a more serious injury. For example, what if a victim refused surgery and this made it more likely for another injury to occur? If that injury occurred and required surgery, this procedure may be much more expensive than the original surgery would have been. This is another situation that could be considered a failure to mitigate damages.
If you have questions about how your decisions about your treatment may impact your claim, Friedman, Domiano and Smith’s Cleveland personal injury lawyers are here to answer them. Sometimes refusing surgery is not something the insurance company can hold against you. This is especially true if there is little evidence the surgery may have fixed the injury or alleviated your symptoms.
Using Alternative Medicine
You may want to incorporate alternative/holistic medicine into your post-accident treatment. While you may derive some benefit from this, if it is used in place of traditional medicine, the insurance company may claim you failed to minimize your damages.
How Might an Insurance Company Prove Failure To Mitigate Damages?
The insurance company will need proof that you refused to take reasonable steps to address your injuries and prevent further damages. For example, they might cite the gap in time between the accident and when you first saw a doctor. They could also look at the date you returned to work and compare it to when you were cleared to return to work.
If the insurance company sees pictures of you on social media engaging in strenuous physical activity, they may question if you are following your doctor’s orders about limiting physical activity. This is why it is often best to stay off social media until your claim concludes.
Call Friedman, Domiano and Smith’s Experienced Lawyers
One of the most important things you can do after an injury is call an experienced lawyer. Your injuries could affect you for a long time, and medical care is not cheap. The insurance company is not likely to provide you with full compensation for your damages if you pursue a claim on your own.
At Friedman, Domiano and Smith, we have been taking on insurance companies for many years. We have secured favorable results for our clients in a wide variety of cases.
Call us to schedule a free consultation and learn how we may be able to help.
Experienced Lawyers. Proven Results. Call 216-621-0070.
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