Failing to seek medical treatment when you are injured can be a costly mistake. Under Illinois law, plaintiffs in personal injury lawsuits have a duty to mitigate. The duty to mitigate means that if you are injured due to someone else’s negligence, you have a duty to make reasonable efforts to avoid additional loss or injury. In fact, failure to do so is an affirmative defense and could impact your ability to recover damages.
The duty to mitigate is not unlimited. You are only required to act in a way that an ordinary and reasonable person would have in similar circumstances. If you do not meet this obligation, you could be denied the right to recover any damages that you could have avoided.
What is required under the duty to mitigate is decided on a case-by-case basis. Often, it means that you must seek medical treatment for your injuries in a timely manner. For example, let’s say that you injured your ankle when you slipped and fell on an icy sidewalk in your apartment complex. Despite the pain, you never seek medical treatment, and your ankle gets worse. If you are successful on a premises liability claim against the property owner, your damages award could be reduced by the amount of money you could have saved had you sought treatment right away.
Other examples of a failure to mitigate may include declining a recommended surgery or refusing medical treatment. Failing to seek proper employment is another example. In other words, if your injuries prevent you from working in your usual line of work but you can work in other types of jobs, you should try to do so.
The bottom line is that if you are injured through no fault of your own, you should take action as soon as possible. Sitting around and doing nothing in the hopes that you will recover more damages could prove to be a costly decision in the long run.
This post is only intended to be an overview of the duty to mitigate. To get help with your particular personal injury claim, consider speaking with an attorney.