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What Injured Victims Need to Know About Their Duty to Mitigate Damages

Posted on behalf of Peter T. Nicholl in Car Accidents Nov 23, 2022

doctors hustling down hallwayWhen you seek compensation after suffering an injury in a car accident, the insurance company will want to know about your medical treatment. For example, they will want to know how soon after the accident you sought treatment and if you have continued your treatment.

If you did not seek treatment soon after the crash, or you have skipped appointments, the insurance company may claim you have failed to mitigate your damages. They may argue that your failure is a valid reason to underpay your claim.

Below, our Maryland auto accident attorneys discuss the duty to mitigate damages after a personal injury and how failing to mitigate damages could affect your injury claim.

If you have any questions after getting injured in a car crash, you can contact The Law Offices of Peter T. Nicholl for answers. For decades, our firm has been securing compensation for those hurt by others’ negligence, at no upfront cost.

We are ready to take your call. Phone: 410-244-7005.

Explaining Mitigation of Damages

The duty to mitigate damages applies to many types of insurance claims. In a car accident claim, mitigating damages refers to the legal obligation to take steps to reduce the severity or extent or your damages. These steps should be reasonable for the situation.

Your damages are the physical and financial effects of your injuries. For example, you may have medical expenses and lost wages after a car crash.

What Does an Injured Victim Need to do to Mitigate Damages?

There are many reasonable steps victims can take to help lessen their damages, such as going to the hospital soon after a car crash. If you wait to seek treatment, your injuries could get worse, which could inflate the value of your claim. If you had taken the reasonable step of not waiting to get treatment, you may have had fewer medical expenses.

Following up with your treatment is also considered a reasonable step. For example, when you first see a doctor after a crash, he or she may recommend seeing a specialist or going in for testing. The doctor may want you to come in for a follow-up appointment to see how you are doing and take note of any new or worsening symptoms.

Mitigation of damages also means not getting treatment that is unnecessary, as this adds more damages to your injury claim. Unnecessary treatment may also include expensive treatment, especially if less costly treatment is available.  

If doctors do not recommend surgery, getting surgery anyway could be considered failure to mitigate damages.

You are not required to take every step imaginable to reduce your damages. You only need to take steps that are considered reasonable.

Am I Allowed to Refuse Medical Treatment?

Decisions about medical treatment are ultimately up to you. If you do not want to go through with treatment or if you want to stop treatment at a certain point, you are within your rights to do that.

However, it is important to understand how stopping treatment could impact your claim. You might stop treatment and later decide to restart it. The insurance company may deny compensation for treatment received after you stopped going to the doctor.

You might refuse a particular treatment because you want a second opinion from another licensed medical professional. This is different than stopping treatment altogether. Make sure to inform your attorney that you have sought a second opinion.

If another doctor recommends a different treatment plan, and you go with that, the insurance company cannot argue you are failing to mitigate damages. You are taking an active role in your treatment and are trying to get what you consider the best treatment.

What if I Cannot Afford Treatment?

Unfortunately, you must deal with the cost of medical treatment while you are seeking compensation. If your claim is successful, the compensation you receive can be used to pay off your medical bills.

However, medical treatment can be quite expensive, particularly if you have a severe injury. Even if you have health insurance, you may still have significant out-of-pocket expenses.

Fortunately, there are ways to keep hospitals and other medical providers at bay while you wait for compensation. You can discuss your options with your attorney, including making a deal with the hospital to hold off on collecting what you owe until your claim is resolved.

It is also important to note you are only expected to do what is reasonable. For example, you do not have to take on unreasonable costs just to show you are mitigating damages.

How Would an Insurance Company Prove Failure to Mitigate Damages?

Insurers would cite your failure to seek treatment or continue treatment. They may claim you sought expensive or unnecessary treatment just to inflate the value of your claim for compensation.

Insurers would also cite the gap in time between the accident and when you first sought treatment. For example, if you sought treatment two or three days after the crash the insurance company may claim failure to mitigate damages. They may also claim you were seeking treatment for an injury that did not occur in the crash.

The insurance company may want to do an independent medical exam to back up their claims about unnecessary treatment or failure to mitigate damages. They will also be closely inspecting the medical records you provide to them.

Schedule a Free Consultation Today

One of the most important things to do after a car crash, besides going to the doctor so your injuries can be identified and treated, is find a lawyer to help you. You may think you can handle the insurance company on your own, but many victims think that and end up receiving much less compensation than they need.

While you need a lawyer, the one you pick needs experience with car crash cases and a history of proven results. That way the insurance company will know that you mean business.

You do not need to be concerned about the costs of hiring an attorney. We do not charge upfront fees.

Peter T. Nicholl Law Offices is ready to help. Call today: 410-244-7005

Contact our personal injury lawyers for a free consultation if you have been injured by another’s negligence. You may be entitled to compensation.

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