For those who have been involved in motor vehicle crashes or other types of personal injuries in Kansas City and the surrounding areas, it can be a very difficult time. If your car was destroyed in the accident, you might be trying to get to and from work or school without reliable transportation. If it’s a fall or other type of injury, you may be out of work and trying to pay medical bills. Whatever the case may be, if you are dealing with an insurance company, they will probably send you a mitigation letter at some point. Here is what you should understand about your “duty to mitigate” damages in Missouri.
What Is a Duty to Mitigate?
Under Missouri law, you have a duty to reduce the effect of damages caused by the at-fault party. In theory, when someone else injures you, you have a right to collect compensation from them. However, the law prefers that people don’t just sit back and let the damage amplify. Therefore, there is a general duty to take reasonable steps to prevent the situation from getting worse. This is known as a “duty to mitigate.”
Examples of Mitigating Damages
Here are a couple very straightforward and simple examples of mitigating damages.
- Example 1: An individual is involved in a car accident and a doctor instructs the individual to not lift more than 10 pounds until cleared to return to normal activities. If the person begins lifting heavy objects and ignoring the doctor’s recommendations, subsequently re-injuring him or herself, then the insurance company may have an argument for not paying compensation for subsequent damages.
- Example 2: Say there is a car crash and the vehicle is towed to a storage lot where charges equal $50 per day. If the person has the means and ability to retrieve the vehicle and stop the storage fees from increasing, in general, the person should do whatever they can to reduce the overall damage by getting their car.
Insurance Companies Abuse Mitigation
Of course, these examples assume that there is something the injured person can actually do about reducing the effect of the damages. Many times, insurance companies will abuse this principle by twisting logic. They may tell you that they will not pay for storage charges for your vehicle while you are sitting in the hospital dealing with serious injuries. This is not what is meant by mitigating damages. If you are unable to do anything about it, rest assured that the law still considers the at-fault party responsible.
In other situations, people are forced to return to work before they are ready, simply because they are facing terminations if they do not. Insurance companies will try to argue that this is somehow “evidence” that you weren’t injured. These are just a few examples of ways insurance companies strain reason in order to reduce compensation.
How the Krause and Kinsman Law Firm Can Help
After a wreck, our attorneys can quickly step into action by contacting insurance adjusters and working to resolve your property damage claim. We can communicate on your behalf and work to make sure you are getting appropriate medical treatment for your injuries. Call or visit us online to learn more, and schedule your own free consultation with one of our attorneys today.
Adam Krause is a personal injury, mass tort, business litigation, and employment discrimination attorney who practices in Kansas City, Missouri. He graduated from the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Law and has been practicing law for several years now. Adam Krause has made a career of taking complicated litigation and presenting it in the most elementary terms for a jury of your peers to understand. Learn more about his experience here.