When someone is injured due to the negligence of another party, the injured person typically has an obligation to take reasonable steps to minimize the effects and loss resulting from his injuries. This is known as the plaintiff’s “duty to mitigate” damages.
The Duty to Mitigate
Even though an injured person suffers damage through no fault of his own, he has an obligation to take further steps to avoid further loss and minimize the consequences of his injury as much as possible. As a result, this duty denies a personal injury plaintiff the right to recover the portion of his damages that could have possibly been avoided.
The reasonable steps that a plaintiff is obligated to take to mitigate his loss following an injury, even if the defendant was 100 percent at fault for the accident, might include:
- Receiving medical treatment in a prompt or timely manner to maximize his potential for recovery
- Following the recommendations of medical providers regarding the treatment of his injuries, including consenting to routine surgery or other treatment
- Treat an injury with accepted medical treatment, not unproven, alternative treatments
- Avoiding activities that might aggravate his injuries
- Seeking other employment or retraining if performing his usual work is no longer possible
The duty to mitigate does not require an injured person to do what is unreasonable or unaffordable, but they cannot simply assert that they have a psychological condition that prevents them from mitigating their damages. The plaintiff is entitled to recover any expenses reasonably incurred in an attempt to mitigate his loss, even if the attempt is unsuccessful.