If you've been injured by someone else's negligence, it's important to understand that the law requires you to do whatever is reasonably necessary to mitigate your damages.
What exactly does that mean?
It means that you have the right to expect the negligent person's insurance to cover your medical bills and pay you for any lost wages, sick or vacation time you had to use while recovering. You also have the right to expect fair compensation for the pain and suffering you endured as a result of the accident and during your recovery.
On the other hand, you also have expectations placed on you. If you fail to do what you can to make yourself better or somehow make your own condition worse, the jury can reduce any compensation they might have given you accordingly.
The following factors can cause a jury to blame you for a lot of your own injuries, depending on the circumstances.
- You take too long to seek medical care after an accident, which allows your condition to get worse. For example, if you don't seek treatment for a dog bite and infection settles in, the jury may blame you for allowing the infection to happen if it can be shown that antibiotics would have prevented it.
- You don't go to your doctor's appointments or follow the doctor's orders. For example, if the doctor orders physical therapy after a leg injury and you don't go, the jury is likely to blame a lingering limp on you.
- You don't submit to surgery that is considered safe and effective for your condition. For example, if you need pins in a broken ankle to make it stable, refusing surgery simply because you're afraid of anesthesia can affect the outcome of your claim negatively.
- You decide to treat your condition with an unproven, alternative form of care. For example, Reiki has many adherents, but it isn't considered acceptable medical care in court.
- You refuse to look for a different job if unable to return to your old job. A back injury may legitimately disable you from construction work, but you could be qualified to work in a call center or do another sedentary job.
If you have any doubts about whether or not a jury will find your actions questionable, consider talking over the situation with a personal injury attorney before you decide how to proceed.