Two Ways You Can Sabotage Your Personal Injury Settlement Award
There's a popular saying that states people are often their own worst enemies. When it comes to personal injury lawsuits, it's not unusual for plaintiffs to say or do something that tanks an otherwise slam-dunk case. Here are two ways you can inadvertently sabotage your potential settlement or court award and how to avoid them.
Failure to Mitigate Damages
Although someone else's actions may have caused you to be injured in some way, the law requires you to take steps to mitigate your damages. In layman's terms, this means you must take action to minimize the damages and losses you suffer as a result of the incident. Failure to take appropriate action will result in the court denying you the portion of money associated with any additional damages that occurred because of your action or lack thereof.
For instance, a tenant breaks a lease 6 months early. The landlord is required to find a replacement tenant as soon as possible. If the landlord lets the unit sit empty without making an effort to find a new tenant, the court will not allow the landlord to collect the entire remaining 6 months of rent the old tenant would normally be responsible for if the landlord had attempted to rent the unit. The judge may only award the landlord 1 or 2 months worth of rent or however long the judge thinks it would've taken the landlord to rent the unit had he or she tried.
When assessing whether a plaintiff fulfilled his or her duty to mitigate damages, the court will consider what a reasonable person would have done in the same situation. Therefore, to avoid possibly losing money on your court award, it's essential that you act in good faith and do what's necessary to minimize your losses or be able to provide a compelling reason to the court as to why you didn't.
Giving Recorded or Written Statements
Depending on the circumstances of your case, the insurance company or attorney representing the defendant may want you to give a recorded or written statement. The reason for this is these people want to use your "official" statements against you in court. For instance, if you say an accident happened one way but your court testimony differs in some way, the defense attorney can use your recorded or written statement to bring your testimony into question, which may result in a financial loss for you.
It's important to understand that, in most situations, you are not required to give a recorded or written statement to a defendant or his or her representatives. For instance, you are not required to provide a statement to the person's insurance company. If you are compelled to do so because of court requirement, then it's critical that you consult with an attorney beforehand. The attorney can guide you about what to say to minimize any damage that may result.
Litigating a case is challenging enough, and there are many pitfalls that can cause you to hurt your own case. Work with a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer who can help you avoid these issues.