If you are injured in an accident in Virginia that was caused by a third party’s negligence, it’s paramount to seek medical care as quickly as possible. Depending on the extent of your injuries, the physician will recommend an appropriate treatment plan, which in many cases might include surgery.
If you do not go through with the surgery or any other treatment plan recommended by your physician, it can impact your personal injury case against the at-fault party.
The Obligation of a Personal Injury Victim to Reduce Damages
Generally, if you are injured an accident, you are expected to take reasonable steps to minimize the damages or losses caused by the accident. This principle is commonly referred to as ‘mitigation of damages’.
If you do not seek medical care in a timely manner or if you refuse to go through with the treatment plan recommended by your physician, the at-fault party can use it as a defense and argue that you failed in your duty to mitigate the damages caused by the accident. In this kind of scenario, your compensation might be reduced accordingly.
For example, if you hurt your knee in an accident, you are expected to seek medical care from a qualified physician. You are also expected to follow the treatment plan recommended by the physician – which might range from physical therapy to surgery.
If you fail to do so, and if your knee injury worsens as a result, you might be able to recover compensation only for the injury, not for the complications resulting from it.
Why the Principle of Mitigation of Damages Matters
The legal concept of mitigation of damages is in place to make sure that accident victims do not act in bad faith and deliberately avoid treatment just so they can seek more compensation from the liable party.
The same principle applies to other types of damages resulting from an accident as well. For instance, if your vehicle’s windshield is damaged in an accident, you are expected to get it repaired or replaced within a reasonable period of time.
If you fail to do so, and if the interior of your vehicle is damaged due to rain, you cannot claim that it was caused by the at-fault party’s negligence and seek compensation for an act of nature or God. In this case, you are likely to be compensated only for the broken windshield and not for the damages caused by rain.
Does the Failure to Mitigate Damages Negate Your Right to Seek Compensation?
It’s vital to note that the failure of an accident victim to mitigate the damages resulting from the accident does not negate their right to seek compensation from the at-fault party.
There are some instances where an accident victim might be justified in avoiding the treatment plan recommended by their physician.
For instance, if your physician recommends an extremely risky procedure to treat your injuries, you might be justified in choosing to live with your injuries, since the alternative is to undergo a surgery which is known to have a high mortality rate. In this case, you might be fully compensated for your injuries, despite the fact that you did not go through your physician’s recommended surgery.
Your compensatory damages might be reduced only if the defendant is able to prove the following claims.
- Your physician recommended a reasonably low-risk procedure to treat your injuries.
- You refused to go through with the surgery, despite the fact that the surgery might have cured or at the very least alleviated your injuries.
- There was no justifiable reason for you to avoid the surgery. By avoiding it, you failed in your duty to minimize the damages caused by the accident.
The Importance of Hiring an Experienced Virginia Personal Injury Lawyer
Not going through with the surgery recommended by your medical provider is generally not a judicious idea, as it can affect your personal injury claim against the at-fault party.
In some cases, however, you might have legitimate reasons to avoid the treatment plan recommended by your medical provider. In such cases, it is extremely important to be represented by a skilled Virginia personal injury attorney who can make compelling arguments to justify your decision and recover an appropriate amount of compensation for your injuries.
The personal injury attorneys at Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn have represented several accident victims in Virginia over the last 35 years and have recovered millions in damages. We know how to build a winnable personal injury case and we know how to establish the negligence and the liability of the at-fault party.
We are happy to work on a contingency basis for our clients. If we do not win your case and recover damages, you do not have to compensate us.
To find out how we can help you, call us today at 800-752-0042 and schedule a free consultation with one of our personal injury lawyers.https://www.hsinjurylaw.com/video/personal-injury-lawyers-in-virginia-beach-and-norfolk-virginia.cfm?q=virginia%20personal%20injury