A car crash can be a life-altering experience, both physically and emotionally. Apart from the immediate pain and suffering, accident victims often face financial burdens due to medical expenses, property damage and loss of income.
In Wisconsin, there is a legal concept known as the duty to mitigate damages, which can have a significant impact on an accident victim’s pursuit of compensation.
Below, we discuss the duty to mitigate damages in personal injury cases and the reasonable expectations, responsibilities, exceptions, and potential impact on compensation.
If you were injured in an accident caused by another person’s negligence, call our Green Bay car crash attorneys today to discuss your claim. There are no upfront fees and we do not charge you anything until we recover compensation for you.
What is the Duty to Mitigate Damages?
When a person suffers an injury caused by the negligent actions of another party, he or she has the right to pursue compensation for the damages suffered. However, the right is not absolute.
Accident victims have a legal duty to take certain precautions to minimize the extent of the damages that are suffered because of negligent actions. This is the legal principle called the duty to mitigate damages.
What is a Reasonable Duty to Mitigate Damages?
It is important to note that the duty to mitigate damages extends beyond the accident and to the actions taken by the injured party after the fact. He or she is expected to take reasonable actions to prevent the exacerbation of his or her damages, such as medical expenses.
Duty to Seek Medical Attention
The most reasonable action to mitigate damages after an accident is to get appropriate medical attention.
By seeking timely medical care, accident victims can obtain accurate diagnoses, prevent further complications and start the recovery process. Failing to seek medical attention as soon as possible may hurt your claim, as it may be seen as a failure to mitigate your damages.
Getting prompt medical treatment may include being evaluated at the scene of the accident. However, not all accident victims think they need to be taken to the hospital, so they refuse medical attention. While this might hurt your claim, it does not mean you can be denied compensation. It also means you need to get to a doctor as soon as possible for a full diagnosis.
Duty to Comply With Medical Treatment
To further mitigate your damages, the insurance company may rightfully expect accident victims to comply with reasonable medical treatments. For example, attending follow-up appointments, undergoing physical therapy or taking prescribed medications.
Missing appointments or refusing to get the necessary treatment for recovery could seriously impact an accident victim’s claim for compensation.
Duty to Avoid Further Harm
Accident victims also have a duty to take reasonable steps to prevent the worsening of their injuries or incurring additional damages. For example, if a victim fails to follow medical advice and engages in an activity that worsens his or her injury it may be seen as failing to mitigate damages.
It is also important to note that incurring additional damages is not limited to the exacerbation of an injury. It also includes additional costs, like the cost of an unnecessary surgery or other medical procedure.
Are There Any Exceptions to the Duty to Mitigate Damages?
While the duty to mitigate damages generally applies, there are some exceptions where fulfilling the duty may be impractical or unreasonable. These situations include the following:
- Unavailability of medical resources – if specialized medical facilities or experts are not available in the local area, the injured victim should not be expected to travel long distances or incur significant expenses to access those resources.
- Unavoidable delays in treatment – if the injured party can demonstrate that he or she made reasonable efforts to seek treatment but faced unavoidable delays, he or she may be excused from failure to mitigate damages.
- Financial restraints – if the recommended treatment options are unaffordable or insurance does not cover them, the accident victim is not expected to incur unreasonable expenses or financial hardship to get treatment. However, reasonable efforts to find an alternative or discuss financial constraints should be sought.
- Informed decision-making – accident victims have the right to make informed decisions about their own well-being, including what treatments to undertake. For example, if a particular treatment option carries significant risks or is not suitable to the specific situation.
It is important to note that these exceptions vary depending on the specific circumstances of the case. However, accident victims should take reasonable steps to minimize their losses and prevent further harm.
Contact an Experienced Attorney Today
If you were injured in an accident and need legal help, call our lawyers today. We have decades of experience helping accident victims recover the compensation they need.
The call is free and there are no upfront fees for our services. Our attorneys work on a contingency basis, which means you do not pay us anything until we recover compensation for you.
Call (877) 888-5201 to schedule a free consultation.