In a Maryland car accident case, the plaintiff has an obligation to mitigate their damages. This means that they must use reasonable efforts to minimize the effects of their injuries, for example, by undergoing medical treatment to avoid more serious injuries. If a defendant can establish that a plaintiff failed to mitigate his damages, the plaintiff’s damages award may be reduced. If the doctrine of mitigation applies, it is the defendant that has the burden to prove that the plaintiff failed to mitigate his damages.
In a recent case before a state appellate court, the court held that there was evidence that the plaintiff failed to mitigate his damages after a car accident. In that case, the plaintiff was driving a rental car and was sideswiped by a tractor-trailer. The plaintiff hit his head against the car’s window. The plaintiff later found a sliver of glass in his eye and sought treatment at a hospital, where they determined that the plaintiff had a preexisting tumor. The plaintiff filed suit against the tractor-trailer driver and his employer, claiming that his preexisting tumor swelled due to trauma from the accident.
The defendants did not contest that they were at fault for the accident, but disputed the amount of damages they were responsible for. Under state law, a plaintiff has a duty to mitigate post-injury damages. If they fail to mitigate damages, the damages will be reduced by the damages that “reasonable care would have prevented.”
In this case, after the tumor was removed, the plaintiff was prescribed medicine for hormonal imbalance. The plaintiff initially did not have money to fill the prescription, and when he started taking it, he felt nauseous. His doctor told him to stop, and to come in to find an alternative. The plaintiff stopped taking the medicine but never went to see his doctor to find an alternative and continued to experience symptoms.
The defendant argued that the plaintiff ignored the advice of his doctor, the court instructed the jury on the failure-to-mitigate defense, and the jury awarded the plaintiff $40,000. On appeal, the plaintiff argued that the court should not have instructed the jury on mitigation, arguing that
although he did not follow his doctor’s advice, it did not affect his injuries.
The court disagreed. The court noted that the plaintiff failed to follow up to see what could be done about his hormonal imbalance after he stopped taking the medicine. In addition, the plaintiff failed to get prescription glasses or contact to improve his vision. Thus, there was sufficient evidence that the plaintiff may have failed to mitigate his damages, and the court properly instructed the jury.
Call a Maryland Personal Injury Lawyer
If you have been injured in an accident, call a Maryland car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Our experienced personal injury attorneys can advise you on what steps to take and what to avoid before filing a lawsuit, to avoid issues later on. We can also guide you through each step of the legal process, from the initial investigation to settlement negotiation and litigation, if necessary. To set up a free consultation regarding your claim, call us toll-free at (800) 654-1949 or contact us online.