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Four Situations In Which Your Personal Injury Damage Awards May Be Reduced

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When you suffer a personal injury due to someone else's negligence and file a suit against that person, you are generally eligible to receive compensation for medical expenses related to the accident, lost wages, and often even pain and suffering. If your property was damaged during the accident, you are also likely eligible for reimbursement for the cost of replacing or repairing that property. In the best of possible cases, you'll be rewarded funds that fully cover these damages. However, there are some situations in which your reward may be reduced. Some of these situations are under your control, while others are not.

Comparative Negligence

In many states, the amount of your award will be reduced if you are partially at fault for the accident. For example, if it is determined that you are 50% at fault and the other party is also 50% at fault, you will be awarded 50% of your costs related to the accident. In most cases, the insurance companies involved are responsible for determining how the fault for an accident is shared.

Contributory Negligence

In Alabama, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, or Washington D.C., you may not be entitled to any compensation if you were even partially at fault for the incident. Do not, however, make the mistake of thinking that this may be the case without first speaking to your lawyer. Every case is different. It's important to simply be aware that contributory negligence laws do exist, so that you are not completely shocked if your lawyer or a judge does inform you that, due to the fact that you're partially to blame for the accident, you are not eligible to collect damages.

Failure to Mitigate Damages

In many states, your award may be reduced if you do not take steps to minimize the financial impact of your injury. In other words, in order to receive your full reward, you must take steps towards recovery. If you refuse medical treatment and make the injury worse, the treatment costs (and possibly your lost wages) will not be included in your settlement. To ensure you are awarded the funds to which your are entitled, be sure to follow your doctor's instructions closely, return to work when you are able, and do everything else that you can to minimize your financial loss due to the injury.

Failure to Provide Your Lawyer with the Necessary Documentation

If you fail to provide your lawyer with the documentation that he or she needs in order to prove that certain damages were suffered, he or she will not likely be able to ask for those funds in the lawsuit. For example, if you fail to provide a medical bill for a knee surgery related to the accident, you may not receive compensation for that surgery.

While most people are responsible when it comes to providing "large" bills to their lawyers, many do forget about smaller bills, such as receipts for ibuprofen used to ease back pain. Individually, these bills may seem small, but they do add up. Keep any and all receipts related to your injury, no matter how small the cost. Your lawyer can go through them with you and determine which are reimbursable. It is better to include receipts in your file and later find out that you cannot be compensated for those costs than it is to leave out bills that could be covered.

Personal injury cases can be complex. In most cases, the amount of your award is dependent not only on the losses that you suffered, but also upon your degree of fault in an accident and how responsibly you keep documentation related to your injury. Keep these situations in mind as you meet with your personal injury lawyer and discuss your case. This way, you'll be prepared if the amount of your reward is lower than what you initially expected.