Failure to Mitigate Damages

December 25, 2022 Firm News

When you file a personal injury claim, you can recover compensation for any damages that you suffered as a result of someone else’s negligence. Damages can encompass a wide range of losses, including medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage. 

Under Nevada law, however, victims are required to mitigate their damages as much as possible. In simple terms, a plaintiff in a personal injury case must take steps to minimize the harm caused by an injury. The failure to mitigate damage can negatively impact your case—and may result in compensation being denied.

A Victim’s Duty to Mitigate Damages

As an accident victim, you have a responsibility to prevent your damages from getting worse after the incident. Mitigating damages requires you to take reasonable steps to keep these losses from increasing in value. If a plaintiff fails to mitigate damages, the defendant could claim that he or she is not financially responsible for a certain portion of the victim’s losses.

For example, say that you were injured in a car accident and suffered a back injury. Despite your doctor’s instructions, you fail to attend medical appointments and take part in strenuous physical activity, causing the condition to worsen. Failure to seek prompt medical care and receive follow-up treatment would constitute a failure to mitigate damages.

What Counts as Reasonable Steps to Mitigate Damages?

Under the law, you are not required to do everything possible to mitigate your damages. You only need to take reasonable steps to minimize harm. What counts as reasonable will vary from case to case.

Generally, you should seek prompt medical care for your injuries. You should also follow your doctor’s instructions and seek all treatments that he or she recommends. If you deviate from your medical care plan, the defendant could claim that you failed to mitigate damages.

How Can a Defendant Use a Failure to Mitigate Damages?

Depending on the extent of the victim’s damages, a personal injury settlement can range from a few thousand dollars to hundreds of thousands or even millions. When you file one of these claims, the defendant will do everything in his or her power to limit the amount of compensation that he or she has to pay.

Failure to mitigate damages can be used as an affirmative defense in your lawsuit. The defendant may claim that you did not take reasonable steps to prevent your injuries from being worse. If the defendant is successful, then he or she would not be liable for any additional damages that you suffer, resulting in a smaller financial recovery.

For example, say that your medical care would have totaled $10,000 and your lost wages would have equaled $5,000 if you received prompt treatment. However, you delayed treatment and your condition got worse, resulting in $40,000 in medical care and $10,000 in lost wages. Your settlement may not equal the full amount of your damages; it may only be $15,000.

Contact a Las Vegas Personal Injury Attorney as Soon as Possible

It is not enough for a defendant to accuse someone of failing to mitigate damages; he or she needs to provide evidence and successfully argue the case in court. If you find yourself in this situation, you need an attorney on your side who can fight for your right to maximum compensation. Contact a Las Vegas personal injury lawyer or Las Vegas auto accident attorney as soon as possible to discuss your next steps and defend your right to recovery.