Personal injury cases can get complicated pretty quick. Not only do they involve a lot of factors that can be difficult to prove —like a defendant’s duty, breach, causation and damages—but even when those hurdles have been met, a plaintiff, has obligations of his (or her) own that must be met. Even an innocent plaintiff who has been injured by someone else’s negligence must mitigate—or reduce— as much as possible, his damages.
The Duty to Mitigate.
The “duty to mitigate” (or “mitigation”) refers to the legal concept that requires a plaintiff who has been injured to reduce the damage that has been inflicted on him.
Does that mean that someone who has been injured through no fault of his own has a duty to reduce the damage the other person caused him to suffer?
Yes, it does.
Every plaintiff has the obligation to take reasonable steps to avoid further loss and to minimize the consequences of the injury. In the context of a personal injury case, that means, for example, that you (as a plaintiff) have an obligation to seek medical attention, undergo surgery if recommended, or to seek other employment or re-train if necessary, or undertake any other reasonable steps necessary to mitigate as much as possible, the damage that was caused to you.
Because if you do not, the rule of mitigation of damages allows the judge or jury to reduce your right to recover that portion of your damages which the judge or jury finds you could have reasonably avoided.
How the Duty to Mitigate Works
It may be easiest to understand the way the duty to mitigate works by looking at an example. Let’s say that you are in a car accident and you break your leg. If your doctor recommends surgery as the only way to repair the break, and says you must stay off the leg for 6 months, and you refuse to have surgery and don’t stay off the leg for 6 months, you cannot later claim damages for the conditions that resulted from your refusal to have surgery and stay off the leg. If a reasonably prudent person would have followed the doctor’s advice, your damages will be reduced by the amount your failure to follow the doctor’s advice resulted in a lack of improvement in your leg, or aggravation of the break.
We Are Personal Injury Attorneys.
If you have been injured, we can help. We are personal injury attorneys with offices throughout Oregon. We have offices in Salem, Medford, Bend, Portland, Eugene, Albany, Grants Pass, Klamath Falls, and several other cities in Oregon. We also have offices in Vancouver and Tri-Cities in Washington. You can call us toll free at: 1-800-682.9568.To set up an appointment, contact us here.