Does the Plaintiff Have to Mitigate Damages in a Personal Injury Case?

In personal injury cases, the principle of mitigation of damages often comes into play. Mitigation of damages (also known as the doctrine of avoidable consequences) refers to the obligation of the injured party to take reasonable steps to minimize the extent of their losses or injuries following an accident or injury caused by another party. This principle is in place to prevent the injured party from exacerbating their damages unnecessarily and prevent them from recovering damages that could have been avoided through reasonable efforts. If you have been injured in any type of accident, contact a Virginia Beach personal injury lawyer to learn more about mitigating damages in your case.

How Does Virginia Address Mitigating Damages?

In Virginia, the injured party – referred to as the plaintiff – is indeed required to mitigate their damages following a personal injury or car accident. Failure to do so can potentially reduce the amount of compensation they are entitled to receive from the at-fault party – referred to as the defendant.

It is not uncommon for the defendant and/or their insurance company to accuse the plaintiff of failing to mitigate their damages. This is what is known as an “affirmative defense,” meaning the defendant admits they are at fault but blames the plaintiff for failing to take the appropriate steps to prevent or minimize their injuries and/or losses.

The duty to mitigate damages typically requires several obligations on the part of the plaintiff. First and foremost, the plaintiff must seek prompt medical attention and follow the prescribed course of treatment recommended by healthcare professionals. This includes attending all necessary medical appointments, undergoing diagnostic tests, and adhering to rehabilitation programs or therapy sessions, focusing on restoring their health and functionality to the extent possible. This is why it is critical to seek medical attention immediately after you have been in an accident, even if you believe your injuries are only minor ones.

The plaintiff must also make reasonable efforts to minimize the financial losses arising from the injury or accident. This may involve mitigating lost wages by returning to work as soon as medically feasible or seeking alternative employment if their injuries prevent them from performing their previous job duties.

What Mitigating Damages Does Not Require

The duty to mitigate damages does not require the plaintiff to undergo unreasonable or burdensome measures. Instead, it necessitates taking actions that a reasonable person in similar circumstances would undertake to minimize their losses. Courts typically assess whether the plaintiff has fulfilled their duty to mitigate damages based on the facts and circumstances of each case.

However, it’s important to recognize that the duty to mitigate is not absolute and may be subject to certain exceptions or limitations. For example, the plaintiff is not expected to undergo invasive or risky medical procedures solely for the purpose of mitigating damages. This is why it is so important to have a Virginia Beach personal injury lawyer advocating for you and protecting your right to pursue damages.

Contact Our Virginia Beach Personal Injury Law Firm Today

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident caused by another party, contact one of our Virginia Beach personal injury lawyers. The legal team at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp is dedicated to helping injured clients obtain the compensation they deserve for their medical bills, lost income, and other losses their injuries have caused. Our legal team will work diligently to make sure you get the financial justice the law allows, like the $235,000 car accident insurance settlement we obtained for one client who suffered multiple injuries when another driver failed to yield the right of way.

Our firm also has satellite offices in Hampton, Norfolk, and Portsmouth.