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What is a "duty to mitigate" in motorcycle accidents?

A previous post here discussed the legal concept of "subrogation" and how it can affect claims arising from personal injury, such as might occur in a Washington motorcycle accident. While it can be a complicated idea, subrogation is not the only legal doctrine that can make a difference in the amount a victim is awarded after being injured by another party's negligence. Another of these complicating factors is called "mitigation."

The word "mitigation" means to make something "less bad." Thus, when we speak of a "duty to mitigate," we are talking about someone's obligation to reduce the harm that has occurred. This duty can take several forms, such as seeking medical attention or treatment for injuries in a timely fashion, or looking for work that can be done, even if prior work is no longer available due to the effects of an injury. But, to whom does the duty to mitigate apply, and how does it function?

In personal injury cases, mitigation is generally required of the plaintiff, that is, the person seeking recovery for injury. The idea is that even though the victim may have been hurt through someone else's carelessness, the victim can't recover damages for injuries a reasonable person would have kept from getting worse. If a plaintiff is seeking recovery for injury, he or she may not be able to recover for problems that occurred because medical help was refused or intentionally delayed by the victim. Similarly, a damage award may be reduced in a case asking for lost wages if a defendant can show that the plaintiff did not make a reasonable attempt to go back to work.

While the doctrine of mitigation may seem a little harsh to people who have been hurt, it does function to ensure that individuals take responsibility for their recovery. Those injured in a Seattle motorcycle accident who have questions about their legal duties and how it may affect a damages award may need to get more information.

Post Type: Topical

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