But I’m exhausted. Do I have to?: An injured party’s duty to mitigate

By Stacey England

Appointment fatigue is a real thing.

Quite often, after months of treatment, individuals start to lose hope they will ever return to their “pre-accident” selves. They start to miss appointments or they’re so exhausted from trying to get through a workday they can’t fathom adding to their plate.

We are all human and these are all real experiences, but what does this mean for your injury claim? Quitting physiotherapy or refusing to fill a medication prescription could have real financial implications on your claim.

The law requires an injured person to adhere to all reasonable medical recommendations and take all necessary steps to get better. If you fail to do so, the settlement or the amount awarded at trial will be less. If your doctor makes a recommendation about work, treatment, or prescribes a medication, you have a duty to follow those recommendations.

In a recent case, Zwicker v. Canada (Attorney General), 2023 NSSC 44, Justice Gabriel reduced the injured party’s claim by 30 percent because the injured party felt the benefits he was receiving from injections administered by his neurologist were not worth the pain of the needles. He also failed to take a prescribed medication. The court held if the injured party had followed the treatment plan he likely would have been alleviated of his symptoms.

In Blenus v. Fraser, 2022 NSCA 73, the Court of Appeal upheld a reduction of 25 percent because the injured party refused treatment from EHS and did not seek medical attention from his family physician in a timely manner. He also failed to follow up with the pain clinic and failed to attend physiotherapy as recommended.

The law is very clear; an injured person cannot recover 100% monetary damages without following the reasonable steps recommended by healthcare professionals. It is their duty to do everything recommended to heal, and this is referred to as “the duty to mitigate”. This also applies to finding another job or taking additional training. If you are unable to return to your previous employment, you are expected to pursue alternative work if you are medically able to do so.

If you have been injured in an accident, at the fault of another party, you deserve compensation. Our highly experienced team at Burchell MacDougall LLP can closely evaluate your situation to determine your obligations and work to secure the compensation you deserve.

This article is for information only and is not intended to be legal advice. If you have any questions or would like further information, you should consult a lawyer.