What Does it Mean to Mitigate Damages in a Personal Injury Case?
In personal injury cases, the issue of mitigation often arises. Mitigation is the act of making an injury less severe, painful, or costly. When someone is injured, they are expected to do what is reasonably necessary to mitigate their damages and reduce their financial losses and physical harms.
If you have suffered injuries in an accident and plan to sue the at-fault party, speak to an experienced attorney about mitigating your damages.
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Do I Have A Duty To Mitigate Damages?
In personal injury cases, an injury victim has a duty to mitigate damages. If you were injured in an accident, you must take proactive steps to try to reduce the costs and harms you suffer. This can include things like getting necessary medical treatment, aftercare, and appropriate therapy.
Mitigation helps you recover more quickly; it also helps prevent added costs and expenses. Getting proper medical treatment may seem obvious, but the duty to mitigate damages requires you to prove that you are doing everything you reasonably can to get better.
How Does Mitigation Work?
Mitigation stems from the idea that an injured party shouldn’t be able to accumulate unnecessary costs after an accident. Texas law requires personal injury victims to take reasonable steps to mitigate their damages after an accident.
An injured party is not expected to take every possible step to lessen their damages, especially if the steps are inconvenient or expensive; they must merely do what’s reasonable under the circumstances. A judge or jury will decide if the injured party acted reasonably to mitigate their damages.
For instance, if an injured party does not seek medical attention quickly after an accident or fails to follow their doctor’s orders for treatment, they may have breached their duty to mitigate damages.
Likewise, if you are involved in a car accident, you might need to move your car out of harm’s way to mitigate further damages from oncoming traffic. If you could have moved your car and didn’t, a jury or court may reduce your damages related to the accident.
What if Someone Fails to Mitigate Damages?
Failure to mitigate damages is an affirmative defense in a Texas personal injury claim. The defendant must raise this defense in response to a plaintiff’s complaint or later court documents. If they don’t, they cannot use the defense.
Defendant’s use failure to mitigate as a way of reducing their liability to the plaintiff. Under Texas law, a court or jury will reduce a personal injury victim’s damages if they were partially at fault for the accident. If they are less than 51% responsible, the court will reduce their damages to account for their percentage of fault. If the plaintiff was 51% or more at fault for the injuries, they cannot recover any compensation.
If a defendant can successfully prove you failed to mitigate damages, the jury will assign a percentage of the blame to you and reduce the damages you can receive. On the other hand, if the defendant can shift more than half of the blame to you, you will recover nothing.
Do I Have to Take on Extra Expenses to Mitigate Damages?
Yes, you may need to pay reasonable costs or expenses to mitigate your damages in a personal injury case. Again, the focus will be on what’s reasonable. Common sense should tell you.
If you need to seek medical treatment for your injuries, you might need to incur medical expenses. If your leg is broken, you might need to pay for a cast and crutches while your leg heals. If you sprained an ankle or wrist, you might need to buy a brace.
Your actions after an injury can have a significant effect on the compensation you receive after an accident. If you have questions, call us at Stephens Law so we can help!
Get Your Legal Questions Answered in a Free Consultation Today
If you have been hurt in an accident, you probably have many questions about what happens next. In addition, you may not know how to mitigate your damages. If you want to know your legal options and how we can help you win your personal injury case, our experienced attorneys at Stephens Law Firm can give you all the answers you may have. Contact our Fort Worth, TX law office for a free consultation at (817) 420-7000. We are here to help.