In a personal injury claim, the plaintiff can seek a damages award to recover losses caused by the injury. On the other hand, they do have an “obligation to reduce damages”. This means that they should take steps to reduce or avoid any further damages that might be connected to the injury or accident. 

Even if the plaintiff was at no fault for the personal injury claim, the plaintiff still has an obligation to take reasonable steps to avoid any further loss and minimize the defendant’s consequences of the injury. The standard that the court will look at to see whether the plaintiff had the duty to minimize his or her injuries is determining if the plaintiff acted in a way an ordinary reasonable person would have in similar situation.

What If the Plaintiff Does Not Take Reasonable Steps to Minimize Damages?

When a plaintiff has been injured through the negligence of the defendant, the plaintiff has the duty to take reasonable steps to minimize his or her damages. This means that any type of damages that could be avoided, the plaintiff should not ignore it. The defendant will attempt to prove that the plaintiff did not take reasonable steps to reduce their losses after the injury. This is similar to the “duty to mitigate damages” in a breach of contract claim. 

The obligation to reduce damages in a personal injury lawsuit is important for promoting fairness in the justice system.  It also helps to relieve the court system of frivolous or unreasonable lawsuits.

What Are Some Examples of a Failure to Reduce Personal Injury Damages?

The laws governing personal injury lawsuits will vary according to geographical jurisdiction. In general, some examples of failure to reduce personal injury damages may include:

  • Failing to seek medical attention after an accident
  • Refusing medical treatment
  • Not following or disregarding medical advice
  • Refusing surgery
  • Engaging in risky or unreasonable behavior that might aggravate injuries

In other words, the plaintiff should seek out the type of medical treatment that a normal, reasonable person would seek under similar circumstances. The injured person doesn’t really need to go beyond what is required for their type of injury. Taking the basic steps will generally fulfill the obligation to reduce damages. 

What If I Don’t Reduce Damages as Required?

A plaintiff can’t obtain a larger monetary award for further injury or losses due to a failure to reduce damages. For example, supposed that the injured plaintiff refused surgery for an injury caused by the defendant. They cannot then sue for the losses resulting from the missed surgery. This would be considered unjust for the defendant, since the plaintiff could’ve prevented those losses.

On the other hand, damages awards are not reduced if the injury received benefits from another source like an insurance company or a third party donor. This is known as the “Collateral Source Rule” which may be applied differently depending on the jurisdiction.

Finally, the damages award will also be reduced if the plaintiff was actually responsible in part for their own injury. If it is proven that the plaintiff contributed in some way to their own injury, they might receive a lower damages award.

Do I Have to Go Back to Work If I Am Injured?

A person who has been injured as a result of the defendant’s negligence and whose injuries keeps him or her from going back to work may not go back to work if the injury impairs them from following his or her usual line of work. However, once the plaintiff is able to work, the plaintiff cannot sit around and do nothing and watch his or her losses grow to recover the enhanced damages. The plaintiff’s damages will be reduced if that type of damage could have been avoided by the plaintiff.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Assistance with Reducing Personal Injury Damages?

Even seemingly simple personal injury lawsuits can turn out to be complicated. There may be several considerations for the court to make when calculating a damages award. If you need assistance for with personal injury damages, you may wish to hire a personal injury attorney in your area. Your attorney can advise throughout the legal process and help you obtain the proper damages award.