An accident can leave you seriously injured and in long-term pain while you're just strolling through a store, toiling away at work, or enjoying a day out with your family. While you might be encouraged to find out you are due compensation for your pain and suffering if it was due to the negligence of someone else, there are limits to what you can request. Find out how the legal concept of the duty to mitigate limits your claims aside from any state or federal limitations.
Limits on Damages
You can't simply claim that you are permanently disabled or unable to work after an accident just because you feel that way. Personal injury cases involve physical examinations and tests conducted by qualified doctors to properly determine how you're injured and what kind of short and long-term effects to expect. The duty to mitigate means that if you could find another profession but couldn't continue to work in the same field as before your accident, you can't necessarily sue for a lifetime's worth of lost wages just because you're no longer in your preferred industry.
Taking Care of Yourself
The duty to mitigate also helps protect the negligent party from the accident victim's attempts to worsen their injuries on purpose, which is rare but always possible. For example, turning down a ride to the emergency room after a car accident or failing to undergo a surgery recommended by your doctor could limit how much money you receive as compensation. Choosing to pursue as much medical care as necessary actually helps your case because it proves you're willing to get better and also increases the amount of money you can document on paper related to your claim.
This legal concept is particularly likely to be invoked in cases regarding permanent disability and long-term lost wage compensation. The negligent party will look for ways to prove that the disability could have been prevented after the accident, such as immediate emergency treatment or prompt surgery. If their legal team determines that you avoided any recommended treatments in the immediate window following an accident, you may not receive compensation for your permanent disability and only get a fraction of what you're expecting. The amount of risk related to the surgery can be factored in during the case, so a person with severe heart disease that couldn't undergo general anesthesia will receive a different judgement than one that is healthy enough that surgery itself is a minor risk.
If you've been involved in an accident and wonder what compensation you may receive, contact a law firm like Gelman Gelman Wiskow & McCarthy LLC.