Can You Lose Your Damages Award Because of This Simple Mistake?

After a person has a personal injury, such as a car accident or a slip and fall, one of the first questions they ask personal injury lawyers concerning their legal rights is “How much is my case worth?” A lot goes into deciding how much your personal injury case is worth, but sometimes, what you do or fail to do can cost you. There are certain instances where the part the injured party played in causing the accident, or their failure to seek medical care following an accident, can negatively impact the amount of compensation they receive in a personal injury lawsuit.

What is Contributory Negligence?

Contributory negligence is when the person the lawsuit may have their claim to damages reduced because of their failure to take care of their own health and safety. It that’s the case, then plaintiff’s right to fully recover from the loss or injury they’ve suffered might be affected accordingly. Some motor vehicle examples of this include:


  • A plaintiff who wasn’t wearing a seatbelt during an accident might be considered 15% to 25% negligent if the defendant can prove that wearing a seatbelt would’ve prevented the injury.
  • A plaintiff who wasn’t wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle or bike could be considered 10 to 15% contributorily negligent if the defendant can prove that a helmet would’ve reduced or limited the loss.
  • A plaintiff who was impaired by drugs or alcohol, as well as consenting passengers of impaired drivers, can be found 25%-45% contributorily negligent.


In addition, the plaintiff in a personal injury case is responsible for mitigating their damages. They must demonstrate that they’ve taken reasonable measures to mitigate or minimize the extent of financial harm caused by the defendant. So by not seeking medical care, or even vocational job retraining if possible, they might see their damage awards go down significantly. Its imperative to seek medical care following an accident. Not just to mitigate damages, but also for your own health and well-being.

You Can Still Get What You’re Entitled To

Personal injury law is a specialized area of law that requires personal injury lawyers to have a deep understanding of insurance and tort law. If you’re a personal injury victim, it’s wise to seek legal representation as soon after the accident as possible. You should also help yourself by practicing safe driving practices, and by seeking the proper care after an accident. That way, you can lessen the chance of unpleasant surprises during the trial.