If you are involved in an accident that was not your fault, you have the right to collect damages. Usually, the insurance company is the one to provide compensation, either your own in no-fault states such as New York or the at-fault party. Despite having suffered injuries that require medical care, and in some cases, rehabilitation, loss of income and even pain and suffering, your insurance companies may try to deny compensation.
Why Do Insurance Companies Try to Deny Compensation?
The simple answer is that they are in the business of making money, not paying it out. In fact, insurers will do all they can to restrict the number of damages you receive. Knowing what is happening as you make a claim and earnestly try to recover the money you deserve is important. There are many tactics insurance companies use to limit your compensation. Let`s take a look at mitigation as a tool they commonly use.
Mitigation is a way to limit the compensation you receive by downplaying your injuries and the cost of your accident. This doctrine says that reasonable efforts must be made to decrease the consequences of the accident. This includes the cost of medical care such as emergency room visits, hospital fees, surgery, medication, and physician bills. It also includes lost wages due to the accident and the process of rehabilitation, which is usually deemed necessary after serious injuries. The theory is that the person who is negligent and liable for damages is only responsible for the actual harm they caused. If that is the case, without mitigation, the additional costs just add to the at-fault driver`s liability. If you are following this line of thinking so far, let`s look at the ways an injured party who is hurt through no fault of his own can accomplish this to the insurer`s satisfaction.
Example of How to Mitigate Damages
All drivers in New York are required to wear a seat belt when they are operating their vehicles. Let`s say a driver failed to do this. As the driver was heading down Madison Avenue in New York City at midnight, they were involved in a T-bone accident at an intersection. Because the driver was not using a seat belt, he was thrown about the vehicle, hitting his head on the dash. This caused a traumatic head injury, and the person spent two weeks in the hospital after suffering a subdural hematoma, which required surgery.
When the lawsuit is filed, the other driver`s lawyer says that although his client admits that he did not stop at the red light, you made your injuries worse by not wearing a seat belt. The driver responsible for the accident further argues that your traumatic brain injury might not have happened if a seat belt had restricted your movement. The at-fault driver`s lawyer says his client should not be liable for all the damages you suffered since you were partly at-fault.
In another example, you are in an accident with a delivery truck. You are injured and the insurer will say that although the delivery driver was over-fatigued and distracted by his GPS search, you had a duty to seek medical care as soon as you could, follow the physician`s orders and not engage in work duties that might make your condition worse. If the insurance company can prove that you continued to work since you were a contract worker and needed the income despite your initial injuries, you are partially at fault for the truck accident for the length of time it took you to recuperate and the cost of doing this.
Mitigation Is Used to Limit Compensation Payments
This affirmative defense is used by insurers who admit the accident was not your fault. However, they argue that, although you did not cause the crash, your improper actions such as not wearing a seat belt or obeying your doctor`s orders, or even worse, not visiting a doctor right away, caused the level of damages you want the insurer to pay. Insurers will look at everything you do from the moment the accident occurs, even looking at your social media to see what you are doing so it is in your best interests to follow the rules. Ask your personal injury lawyers about ways to thwart this insurance company tactic.