Duty to Mitigate Your Damages

North Carolina accident victims don’t get a fair shake after accidents for a LOT of reason, most of which can be laid at the feet of GOP legislators, but that’s for another blog post. One of the many rules that accident victims aren’t aware of and that comes back to bite them is the Duty to Mitigate Your Damages.

The duty to mitigate essentially means that if you have a proverbial tourniquet to stop the proverbial bleeding, you have to staunch it and you can’t blame the guy who accidentally cut your finger when you bleed out. Here’s the most common example of how that rule might mess up your day:

Let’s say you’re in an auto accident, not your fault, and it totals your vehicle. The bad guy’s insurance pays the “fair market value” (whether that’s “fair” or not is, yet again, for another blog post…) but you can’t find a car to buy and use for 6 weeks. You need your car to work, so in addition to your injuries, etc., you’re losing income for 6 weeks, all of which can be traced back to the original act of negligence of the bad guy driver. Yet, the Duty to Mitigate would probably preclude you from being able to recover the vast majority of that lost income for the 6 weeks after they paid you for your property damage. The law would say that after they paid you FMV for your vehicle, they were square, as it were, with you with regards to your property damage and by extension your property damage-related lost income.

I hear the rationale for why that’s fair; it’s not really fair to expect the bad guys or their carrier to go and find you a car that you’ll be happy with. I get it. BUT, at the same time, you can’t ride the stupid check to work and back! The money is NOT a car, so it’s not the same thing!

Now, with the right argument you might be able to get a little bit of that lost income because, Duty to Mitigate or not, there is a reasonable argument to be made that even with that check, you can’t turn that into a car in a day or even three, so maybe a short percentage of that 6 week absence might be a reasonable argument, but not a guaranteed one.

Once again, all this stuff is complicated which is why you should get a personal injury lawyer that knows what they’re talking about. Get me! 919-929-2992.

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Jeffrey Allen Howard, Attorney at Law, PLLC
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