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What is a plaintiff's duty in a person injury case?

Those who get injured in auto accidents and are no longer able to continue working at their former jobs due to their injuries can be in for an unpleasant surprise when they file a lawsuit if they do nothing to mitigate the damages from the accident.

Under the law, plaintiffs are obliged to reduce the consequences of their personal injuries. This can mean that they must seek and undergo treatment of those injuries that is consistent with that sought by those acting with due diligence and in good faith, while exercising reasonable judgment and ordinary care.

Injured parties also have a duty to minimize the deleterious effects of the accident on their employment situations. Those who can no longer perform the duties of their former jobs have an obligation to pursue other avenues of employment, including seeking retraining or additional educational opportunities. Defendants in personal injury cases can seek to reduce the damages sought by plaintiffs if they are able to prove that plaintiffs didn't take reasonable steps to mitigate their losses after an accident.

This does not mean that plaintiffs have to agree to risky surgical procedures if there is a possibility that they could die or be left paralyzed if the procedure fails, however. However, it can mean that if a reasonable person, under those identical circumstances, would have submitted to surgery, that plaintiff may have any damage award reduced if the surgery would have subsequently lessened the effects of the injury.

If you are unsure of whether you could possibly be doing more to mitigate the damages caused by your auto accident, you should have a frank discussion with your personal injury attorney about the matter.

Source: Findlaw, "The Plaintiff's Duty to Mitigate Damages," accessed Oct. 13, 2016

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