When a person is injured in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, the injured person has an obligation to take reasonable steps to minimize the effects of their injuries. This is known as the “plaintiff’s duty to mitigate damages.” This rule denies a personal injury plaintiff the right to recover any part of his or her damages which the court or a jury finds could reasonably have been avoided. A personal injury plaintiff’s obligation is to act in a way that an ordinary, reasonable person would have in a similar situation. Further, an injured person must act in good faith and with due diligence in the exercise of ordinary care and reasonable judgment when selecting a doctor or treatment for his or her injuries and in seeking alternative employment. A defendant in a personal injury suit will often attempt to reduce the number of damages that the plaintiff can recover by showing that the plaintiff failed to take reasonable steps to reduce his or her loss following the injury.
Below are four of the most common ways that personal injury plaintiffs can inadvertently sabotage their damages awards.
- Choosing Not to Have Surgery
Often, a personal injury plaintiff’s doctor will recommend surgery as a method of treating the injury. In that case, the plaintiff may choose not to have the surgery, since no one can force a patient to consent to a surgery they are not willing to undergo. However, if the patient chooses not to undergo the surgery against their doctor’s advice, they may not be able to recover damages for the consequences of an injury that could have been avoided or significantly lessened by the surgery, especially if the court finds that a reasonable person would have consented to the surgery under the same circumstances.
- Failing to Seek Medical Attention
A plaintiff’s failure to see a doctor in a timely manner for injuries that a reasonable person would consider required medical attention can also reduce the plaintiff’s recovery. A delay in seeking medical treatment may be reasonable if the injury did not seem serious. However, if the nature of the injury is fairly obvious, an injured person must act in a reasonably prompt manner, or damages will not be allowed where there is proof that the delay contributed to the injury.
- Using Alternative Treatments
Many personal injury plaintiffs believe that alternative treatments, such as acupuncture, chiropractic, and holistic and homeopathic treatments are just as valuable as traditional medical treatments. While some of these methods may indeed prove beneficial for certain ailments, the courts may disagree. Depending on the nature and severity of an injury, using one of these alternative means, instead of seeking prompt medical treatment, may be unreasonable and may lead to the reduction in the amount of damages an injured person can recover.
- Failing to Seek Employment
If the plaintiff’s injury has affected his ability to work in his usual line of employment, but he can still work in some other kind of job, he cannot sit idly by and do nothing while he watches his losses grow. An injured person’s damages will be reduced if he or she can do work of some kind, and where such work is available, but the injured person makes no effort to obtain such work.
Contact an Atlanta Personal Injury Attorney
If you have been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, you may be able to recover through a personal injury action. Contact the Atlanta personal injury attorneys at Slappey & Sadd for a free consultation to discuss your case by calling 404.255.6677. We serve the entire state of Georgia, including the following locations: Gwinnett County, Muscogee County, and Newton County.