Plaintiff Responsibility to Reduce Injury Damages

An injured victim has certain obligations, such as taking reasonable steps to reduce and lower the effects and loss caused by the injuries. The victim must seek other employment if he or she cannot continue with his or her existing work. In a personal injury lawsuit, the defendant can claim that the victim did not take reasonable steps to reduce the losses.

Obligation to Reduce Damages

The victim must take reasonable steps to prevent further losses and to minimize the effects of the injury. The doctrine of mitigation of damages limits the defendant’s liability. This rule imposes on the victim, in the event of negligence or accident caused by the plaintiff, a duty to take reasonable steps to minimize the loss. If the victim fails to take such steps, no part of the loss that would have been prevented by such steps can be recovered. In effect, the rule treats the avoidable loss as if it were caused by the victim’s failure to mitigate damages rather than being caused by the plaintiff’s negligence. The victim is expected to act in good faith and must as a reasonable person would in similar circumstances including selection of proper treatment and job hunting.

Refusing to Have Surgery

If the doctor recommends a specific surgery for treatment, the victim has the right to refuse the surgery. However, if the refusal causes the victim’s condition to worsen or results in additional complications, the victim cannot claim compensation for the consequences of the refusal since the consequences could have been avoided by timely surgery.

An important factor is whether or not a reasonable person would have undergone similar surgery in a similar situation. The risk of death or further injury will play a crucial role in the determination. The victim has an obligation to undergo a simple surgery with low risk and high rate of success. However, there is no obligation to undergo an experimental surgery or one that has serious risks or very little chances of success. In such cases, the plaintiff cannot claim that the victim did not comply with his or her obligation to reduce the damages.

The courts will look at whether the surgery would have reduced or cured the injury when deciding whether or not the action of the victim in refusing the surgery was reasonable.  If the victim claims compensation for lost future wages, the court will see if the victim could have worked had he or she undergone the surgery which he or she refused to undergo.

Not Seeking Medical Aid

The victim is expected to act like a reasonable person. He or she must get medical assistance promptly. If the injury is fairly obvious but the victim does not seek timely medical assistance and the injury aggravates as a result, the victim will not be given compensation if the defendant proves that the victim’s delay in getting medical aid contributed to the injury.

Refusing Treatment or Not Following Medical Advice

The victim must follow the course of treatment prescribed by the doctor. If the victim disregards medical advice or refuses treatment, then he or she cannot claim compensation for aggravation of the injury caused by the refusal of treatment or disregarding of medical advice. The victim must report for follows as advised by the doctor. Failure to do so can also affect the amount of compensation.

Alternative Treatments

There may be alternatives to medical treatment. However, using alternative treatments instead of medical assistance can result in the damages being lowered especially when the defendant can show that proper medical treatment would have cured or reduced the injury.

Seeking Employment

If the injury prevents the victim from continuing in his or her job, the victim must make reasonable attempts at getting another job. Merely sitting idle will not help. If the defendant can show that the victim could engage in some kind of work, then the damages will be reduced.

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