Does Mitigating Damages Mean Forsaking Medical Treatment?

I was recently in an automobile accident. The insurance adjuster handling my case told me that I need to ‘mitigate damages’ in my injury claim. I asked if this meant that I should not see a doctor, but I did not get a straight answer to my question. What should I do? Should I see a doctor or not? Anonymous, USA

The obligation to “mitigate damages” does not mean that a victim should avoid expenses at all cost (no pun intended). If a victim is injured in an automobile accident, seeking medical attention for those injuries is very reasonable.

Proper medical treatment can actually decrease overall damages by lessening the pain that the victim suffers, shortening the period of time that the injury affects the victim’s life, and getting the injured person back to work or into normal daily activities more quickly. Medical treatment can also help the victim avoid permanent effects of the injury, including scars. So incurring the expense of reasonable medical treatment is actually mitigating your damages.

The responsibility for mitigation of damages (mitigating damages), or the doctrine of avoidable consequences places a responsibility on a victim to take reasonable steps to lessen their damages or expenses. The key word is ‘reasonable’. This responsibility does not obligate a victim to avoid damages or expenses, only those that are unnecessary.

We are not medical doctors and do not know the extent of the injuries your claim, nor the specifics of your accident, but we can say that if you need medical attention, then get it. Failing to seek medical treatment is NOT mitigating your damages since inattention might make your injury worse. Under the doctrine avoidable consequences, even a victim of someone else’s negligence cannot recover for damages or expenses which could have subsequently been avoided.

This article is approved for informational purposes and is not intended to take the place of competent local legal counsel.

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