What does “mitigate damages” mean?
Georgia law requires that when a person suffers injury because of the negligence of someone else, the injured person must mitigate his damages to the extent that is practical. What does the word mitigate mean? According to Black's Law Dictionary, to mitigate means to reduce or lessen.
How far do I have to go to mitigate my damages?
You do not have to take extraordinary measures to mitigate your damages. Georgia law merely requires you to lessen your damages by using ordinary care and diligence. If you take the steps that a reasonable person would do under the circumstances, you have exercised ordinary care and diligence.
What steps can I take to mitigate my damages?
Get medical treatment.
If you have an injury, you should seek professional medical attention right away. For example, if you suffered large cuts in a car accident, you should go to an urgent care center, an emergency room, or a doctor's office to get the cuts properly cleaned and dressed. If you fail to do so and the wounds become infected, you have not mitigated your damages. A reasonable person would have gotten the cuts cleaned and dressed to prevent the injuries from getting worse.
Complete your treatment.
If your doctor prescribes three months of physical therapy to treat your injury, you should complete the full three months unless there is a sound medical reason to do otherwise. If you go to one therapy session and do not return or fail to perform the exercises your therapist directed you to do at home, you have not exercised ordinary care and diligence to restore function to your injured area and have not mitigated your damages.
Follow medical advice.
If your doctor prescribes painkillers and directs you not to drive a vehicle while taking the medication, you should follow this advice. If you drive your car and crash, the party at fault in your original car accident will not be liable for your new injuries.
Do not do anything that makes your injuries worse.
If you broke your leg because of a dangerous condition on a property and then rode a motorcycle with your leg in the cast, the jarring impact could cause your bones to shift out of alignment and not heal properly. Since your actions worsened your injuries, the party at fault in the original premises liability accident will not be liable for the additional damage.
Take reasonable steps to get better.
Get plenty of rest, eat healthy foods, get moderate exercise as approved by your doctor, and avoid harmful behaviors during your recuperation. Use common sense to get well.
You can exercise ordinary care and diligence by attending all of your doctor appointments, taking your medication as directed, and focusing on getting well. Avoid complicating your injuries.
What can happen if I do not mitigate my damages?
It can reduce the amount of financial compensation you will receive if you do not mitigate your damages or if you worsen them. The reasoning behind this is that the person at fault in your accident should only be responsible for the damages he caused. He has no control over whether you make a good-faith effort to recuperate or whether you exercise ordinary care and diligence.
If you need help with your negligence claim, call the Law Office of Jason R. Schultz, PC today at 404-474-0804 to schedule your free consultation.