When you believe that you have a personal injury case, you need to schedule a consultation with an Atlanta personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. You may know that you have rights as an injured person. But, according to Georgia law, you also have some obligations. One of the most important obligations refers to the mitigation of damages.
In our extensive experience, the failure to mitigate damages is one of the most frequent tactics used by the defendant’s attorney in a personal injury lawsuit. Even if they cannot get your case dismissed, the jury will significantly reduce the value of the award. As a result, you will still be left with unpaid medical bills and financial difficulties, even if you win the case.
What Exactly Represent the Mitigation of Damages?
The mitigation of damages doctrine is an important part of personal injury law in all the US states and territories. A simple definition of mitigation of damages states that an injured person by someone’s negligence must take reasonable steps to:
- Reduce their injuries
- Prevent their injuries from getting worse
- Reduce their damages and costs.
This doctrine is enshrined in Georgia Code 51-12-11, which states that a person injured by someone else’s negligence must mitigate their damages “as far as is practicable by the use of ordinary care and diligence”. As an Atlanta personal injury lawyer knows, everyone interprets these terms differently. Thus, it is important to have legal representation from the very beginning of your case.
In this way, you can demonstrate that you did use ordinary care and diligence in the mitigation of damages and that, despite these efforts, you are still left with injuries and economic damages.
Some Common Instances of Failure to Mitigate Damages
There are cases where an insurance company or opposing counsel may try to persuade the jury that you did not even attempt to mitigate your damages. Unfortunately, the injured person’s actions or failure to act support this claim.
The absence of mitigation of damages is best explained by these instances
1. Failure to Seek Medical Attention
Many people walk away after an accident…literally. They believe that they did not suffer severe injuries and there is no need to go to hospital. Unfortunately, many injuries are not visible. This is the case of organ damage or internal bleeding. Also, after a sudden trauma, you will not feel pain for several minutes or hours, because adrenaline is pumping through your body.
When you start feeling ill or in pain, the injury may have become more severe due to lack of treatment. This is a classic instance of failure to mitigate damages and it is also very difficult to defend.
2. Seeking Alternative Treatments
Medical care is generally recognized as treatment administered by a licensed healthcare professional. This is what insurance companies look for and so do lawyers in analyzing your choices in terms of mitigation of damages.
Unfortunately, some people rely on alternative cures and treatments, such as holistic medicine, faith healing and homeopathic drugs. These are not recognized as proper medical care and, by extension, diligent efforts to mitigate your damages.
However, an experienced Atlanta personal injury lawyer may persuade the jury that you chose this type of treatment with the genuine belief that you were doing the best to recover from your injuries and reduce their severity. It is a difficult defense, but not impossible if you bring your case to the team at H Groves Law.
3. Failure to Seek Alternative Employment
Some people are left with a permanent impairment after a severe accident. This impairment prevents them from doing their current job. For example, a pianist or painter who suffered permanent nerve damage in their hand can no longer play or paint.
However, as part of mitigation of damages, they can seek alternative employment – teaching others how to play the piano or paint, for instance. Refusing to look for other type of employment will reduce the damages you will receive in compensation for loss of earning potential.
Is Mitigation of Damages a Factor in Winning a Personal Injury Case?
Failure to mitigate your damages will give an insurance company grounds to deny your claim. But this is not the end of the road. An experienced Atlanta personal injury lawyer can appeal this and reach a settlement.
Otherwise, you can file a personal injury lawsuit. Now, you can be certain that mitigation of damages – or the failure to do so – will factor heavily in the defendant’s arguments. However, this does not cancel their liability for causing your injuries in the first place.
In the end, you will get compensated, but only partially. The jury will determine how much money could have been saved if you had mitigated your damages to the best of your abilities.
Best Practices in Mitigation of Damages
So far, we discussed failure to mitigate damages. Now it is time to learn what you should do in order to maximize your chances of winning your personal injury case.
Proper mitigation of damages involves the following actions:
- Seeking emergency medical attention immediately after your accident
- Following the doctor’s recommendations – including refilling prescriptions and physical therapy
- Attending all follow-up medical check-ups recommended by the doctor
- Looking for alternative employment options if you are left unable to perform your job
- Refraining from unproven and alternative medical practices, which may make your condition worse.
Remember that all the costs you incur with medical care – including ambulance ride costs and hospital bills – will be included in your accident claim and recovered from the at-fault party.
Let an Experienced Atlanta Personal Injury Lawyer Guide You!
Harmon Groves knows that winning a personal injury case depends on every little aspect. And mitigation of damages is not little, but a very big issue. This is why H Groves Law will always give you the best advice so that you avoid making mistakes that may hurt your case.
You will get clear and simple explanations during the free initial consultation and the reassurance that if Harmon Groves and the team at H Groves Law takes your case, we will fight for maximum compensation. Schedule your free case review as soon after your accident as possible!