The rule of mitigation recognizes that all parties to a case have a responsibility to minimize their damages. Cases are rarely black and white, and extenuating circumstances can impact the judgment that is rendered on one. Mitigation takes this into account and can affect the amount of compensation you are owed after an accident.
If you suffered a tort or a breach of contract, you still have a duty to mitigate your possible damages from the harm you suffered. You won’t be able to simply charge everything to the defendant if you’ve been negligent in this regard. Find out exactly how mitigation works and can impact your potential award.
What is mitigation?
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.
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. If you turn down a low-paying but less physically demanding clerical job, 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 who receives a lesser sentence for stealing a loaf of bread due to the mitigating factor of his hunger.
Speak with a lawyer to get the maximum award for your case
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.