When you get into a car accident, there’s a high likelihood that you’ll suffer injuries. Afterward, you’re expected to get treatment and stick with the treatment plan. However, when you fail to do this and aggravate your injuries, the law says you’ve been unable to “mitigate” the effects of such a wound. In this article, our Albuquerque car accident lawyers look into what it means to mitigate in a car accident case.
We’ll examine the impact of failure to mitigate on your injury claim and whether the fault party can use it as a defense. If you suffer injuries from a car accident, our expert attorneys at FBD Law can help you. Contact us today to learn more about our services.
What Is Mitigation?
When the facts of a car accident explicitly show that you are the victim of an accident, what follows is a compensation claim. Generally, New Mexico practices the fault-based compensation system, so filing a claim for a monetary settlement is within a victim’s right. However, the journey to getting damages is fraught with challenges, with insurance companies constantly looking for ways to avoid making payments.
One common roadblock they set up is claiming that you failed to mitigate your damages. So what does mitigation mean?
Simply put, mitigation means taking steps to limit or reduce your injuries and the costs of an accident. In addition, the law expects you to take “reasonable steps” to minimize your damages. These damages include the cost of medical treatment, rehabilitation, medical equipment, lost wages, and other financial losses incurred.
Mitigating your injuries is crucial because the at-fault driver would only pay for the harm they caused. If you intentionally aggravate your injury to get more money from the at-fault party, it will not work. You cannot benefit from your wrongdoing, so take the necessary steps to care for yourself and not aggravate your condition.
What Do Reasonable Steps Mean?
Usually, what amounts to “reasonable” is objective in law. It means that another person in your condition or situation would have done the same thing. When you deviate from the path of what other “reasonable people” would do, negligence comes into play. So, what does it mean to take “reasonable steps” in mitigating the injuries or losses from a car accident?
For it to be said that the steps you took were reasonable, you must have done the following:
- Exercised care and caution;
- Followed all safety precautions; and
- Obeyed laws designated to protect you.
For example, suppose you were in transit but failed to wear your seatbelt. While moving at a steady speed, a high speeding vehicle slams into you from behind. The impact ejected you onto the roadway, and you sustained extensive injuries as a result. With this scenario in mind, how does mitigation come in?
When you file a lawsuit against the rear-ending driver who is obviously at fault, they can claim you failed to mitigate your injuries. Why? Because you didn’t wear a seatbelt, thereby disobeying a designated law meant to protect you. Also, seatbelts restrain car occupants in a car accident and keep them from getting ejected.
Now, suppose you were strapped down and only suffered a fractured arm. Upon getting treatment, the doctor advises you to stay off strenuous work and heavy lifting. However, you disregarded this instruction, and by lifting heavy objects, aggravated your injury. You would have failed to mitigate your wound by not exercising care and caution.
Can the At-Fault Party Deny You Compensation for Not Mitigating Your Injury?
The answer to this question is yes and no. Yes, because an at-fault party would only pay for the damage they caused, as mentioned earlier. No, because the law allows you to get compensated for the harm and losses suffered. What’s important is that your settlement is only limited to your primary injury and losses and not the one resulting from your carelessness.
However, it’s not uncommon for insurance companies to try to get out of paying any form of compensation on the grounds of failing to mitigate damages. In such a situation, get an Albuquerque car accident lawyer involved. An attorney will create a dichotomy between your primary injuries and the aggravation and get you what you deserve.
Contact FBD Law Today!
Just because you failed to mitigate your damages doesn’t mean you should not get any compensation. Our Albuquerque auto accident lawyers at FBD Law will fight for you until we get you what you deserve. For us. It’s about justice and getting what’s fair. So, call today for a free case evaluation.