The settlement or court award that an injured individual receives after a personal injury is dependent on many factors in their claim. The main factors include the extent of their injuries, if they had any fault leading up to their injuries, the insurance policies involved, the experience of their South Carolina personal injury lawyer, their credibility and demeanor during a deposition, and how aggressively they seek compensation. Injured individuals have some control over some of these factors, and for others, they do not. One factor that they do have control over is mitigating their damages.
What Does it Mean to Mitigate Your Damages?
Mitigation is doing what you can to decrease your damages, including expenses and injuries after a personal injury accident. In every personal injury claim, the injured party has a duty to do everything they can within reason to lessen their damages and prevent further ones. If they fail to mitigate their damages, it will reflect poorly on them and can be used to decrease the compensation they receive for their injuries. Injured individuals who work with a South Carolina personal injury attorney to resolve their claim will receive specific instructions on mitigating their damages.
Your Legal Obligation of Mitigation
As a plaintiff, you have a legal obligation to act in the same way a reasonable individual would act in the same or similar situation. Mitigating damages can mean different things in different types of claims. Generally, after sustaining a personal injury, you have an obligation to:
- Get medical attention
- Follow any medical advice your care providers give you
- Work with legal and medical professionals
- Only receive necessary medical treatment
You must do whatever you can to keep your damages physically and financially at a minimum. Depending on the injuries and circumstances, mitigation will look different from one injury claim to the next. Your South Carolina personal injury attorney can advise you on what mitigating your own damages will look like.
Failure to Mitigate Can be Used Against You
If you do not do everything in your power to mitigate your damages, the legal team for the defendant can use your lack of actions as a defense for not paying your full compensation. This is known as an affirmative defense in which the defendant accepts liability in causing your damages, but they have a reason or explanation to defend themselves.
For instance, the at-fault party might accept liability for causing your car accident. They might also argue that you didn’t mitigate your damages by failing to seek medical attention as soon as possible or adhering to your doctor’s order not to lift more than 10 pounds. As such, they will say that they are not liable for all of your damages.
If the person who caused your accident is successful in using this defense strategy, your compensation will likely be reduced. However, a well-versed South Carolina personal injury lawyer can help you defeat their accusations and help you obtain the compensation you deserve.
Mitigating Medical Damages
As a personal injury victim, you still maintain your patient rights. These include the legal right and independence to make decisions regarding your medical care. You don’t have to accept medical care or treatments that you are opposed to. However, listening and adhering to the advice of your doctors and other healthcare professionals will help minimize your damages and to maximize your compensation. If you feel you have a good reason not to, you should speak to your South Carolina personal injury lawyer.
The following actions can decrease the value of your injury claim:
- Failing to get medical care: Not getting medical attention as soon as possible after your injury isn’t in the best interest of your health and well-being or your injury claim. You could potentially decrease your potential for recovery. You are not required to seek care from a particular physician or facility, but they must be licensed. If your injury wasn’t apparent or did not seem serious right after the accident, it makes sense that you did not seek medical attention immediately. Under the circumstances, you did not fail to mitigate your damages.
- Refusing to listen to medical advice: You cannot refuse medical advice and then expect to receive compensation for any damages that result from your refusal. If a reasonably prudent person would follow the advice you received, the defendant is not liable for any additional consequences that you face because you refused to follow their advice. If your doctor tells you not to return to your regular exercise routine for six weeks after your accident, but you return at three weeks and reinjure yourself, your claim will not cover the reinjury. You must also be sure to inform your doctor if your systems persist or you experience new symptoms, as this can also mitigate damages.
- Using alternative medicine in place of traditional treatments: When it comes to legal claims, alternative treatments are no substitute for traditional medical treatments. Examples of alternative treatments include acupuncture, chiropractic care, holistic therapies, homeopathic remedies, herbal medicine, massage therapy, and electromagnetic therapy. You might be able to use them in addition to your traditional treatments, but you should consult with your South Carolina personal injury attorney and your treating physicians first.
Hire an Experienced South Carolina Personal Injury Attorney to Maximize Your Compensation
Personal injuries can lead to significant physical, emotional, and financial damages. You shouldn’t have to pay for the damages you suffer due to the negligence of another party. At the McCravy, Newlon, Sturkie & Clardy Law Firm, our South Carolina personal injury lawyers take your injuries seriously. No matter what type of injury you have, it is crucial to mitigate your damages. We take every necessary step to maximize your compensation, including helping you to mitigate your damages.
We help injured individuals from all over the state. Our attorneys represent personal injury clients from six different locations in South Carolina, including Anderson, Greenwood, Greenville, Laurens, Spartanburg, and Saluda. Call us today at (864) 388-9100 to schedule your injury consultation or chat with us online.