Mitigation of damages means that, as a victim of a personal injury, you will not deny any reasonable opportunity to decrease your damages or losses. In some circumstances, that can be something as simple as ensuring that you go to your doctor’s appointments to get necessary follow up treatment. In other situations, it may mean taking a lower paying job that meets your physical or mental restrictions after suffering serious injuries. Although the position may not be ideal, it will still decrease your overall amount of wage loss caused by the accident.
What happens if you don’t mitigate your damages?
If you choose not to mitigate your damages, then the total amount of your award at trial will be reduced by the amount that you would have gotten by taking the mitigating action.
For example, imagine you are injured in an accident that prevents you from going back to work. But, you could do another line of work that perhaps isn’t as physical. You are offered a job doing clerical work out of your home. If you turn it down, you would not be making reasonable efforts to mitigate your damages. If your case goes to trial, then your damages for lost wages would be reduced by the amount that you would have earned if you had taken that job.
The same basic concepts apply in the medical context as well. If you don’t go to your medical appointments or follow up with recommended treatment, then you may not be able to get all of your medical expense paid if your condition gets worse.
As someone who has been harmed in a personal injury case, it’s always a good idea to not only see a doctor initially but also go back as necessary to get treatment that has been recommended to you. You not only avoid any problems with mitigation, but you also get valuable medical records that describe your healing progress after an accident.
Are there other definitions of mitigation in the legal context?
You may have also heard of mitigation in the context of criminal law. “Mitigating circumstances” decrease a criminal penalty because of circumstances that are favorable to the defendant. The most common example is a starving man that takes a loaf of bread. The fact that the man was starving is considered when a judge issues a sentence for the crime of stealing—it is a mitigating factor.
You may not realize what circumstances would be considered a failure to mitigate. Thankfully, John Foy & Associates has over 20 years of experience dealing with personal injury claims in Georgia. We can help you determine situations where a court may think that you were not fulfilling your duty to mitigate as part of your legal case. Fill out the form to your right or call us at 404-400-4000 to get your FREE consultation today.