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What does it mean to mitigate damages?

When an individual is injured in an accident, even when it was caused by someone else's negligence, the injured individual has an obligation to mitigate damages. This means that the injured party must take reasonable action to reduce further damage related to the accident.

Although we generally take steps to avoid harm to ourselves, this care should go a step further during a personal injury lawsuit. Even if an individual suffered an injury through no fault of their own, a jury will deny compensation for further injury or loss when it could have been avoided by reasonable care. An example of this in practice would be if an individual suffered an injury that made their current occupation no longer feasible. A jury may deny a claim for lost income if they feel the injured party failed to take reasonable action to reduce their loss by finding other employment.

The idea of mitigation of damages does not only pertain to employment and lost wages. It further requires an injured individual to behave in good faith and exercise due diligence when seeking care, treatment and alternative employment.

One exception to the practice of mitigation of damages is when surgery is recommended. In that case, the injured individual can opt out of surgery without it being held against them when seeking compensation. However, if the surgical option could have significantly lessened the injury or allowed the injured individual to avoid disability, the injured party would not be awarded damages that a jury believes could have been avoided by having surgery.

Even if an individual suffers an injury because of someone else's negligence, the injured person still has an obligation to mitigate damages. A failure to seek medical attention, refusing medical treatment and disregarding professional medical advice are all actions that can work against an individual when seeking compensation. Fortunately, working with an experienced personal injury attorney can help people understand their responsibility to mitigate damages which may help them receive the compensation they need.

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