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What responsibilities might I have as an accident victim?

If you have suffered injury in an accident due to someone else's negligence, you have a right to seek due compensation for the pain, suffering and financial losses you suffer. The key word in that first sentence may well be "due." In the legal context it usually means what is suitable, appropriate or correct for the circumstances of a given case.

As you might imagine, the implication of that definition is that a person in central Illinois who decides to seek due compensation would be ill advised to expect an outcome that simply opens a spigot to endless payments from the defendant.

Very often, the plaintiff in a personal injury case will have to show that he or she has done everything reasonable to try to minimize the possible losses after the accident. Such steps might include exercising reasonable judgment in selecting what doctor to see or what treatment to undergo; with "reasonable" being subject to the interpretation of a judge or jury.

For example, if after an accident you decide to forego seeing a regular medical doctor and opt first for acupuncture or chiropractic treatment, that might be deemed unreasonable by some. Also, if you go to a doctor and some course of treatment is recommended that is known to deliver good results with a minimal amount of risk and you decide against it, it could wind up reducing the amount of damages you might recover.

Another factor that could affect the amount of financial recovery is if you are able to work but don't actively try to find a job.

Of course, very often accidents cause such catastrophic injuries that the victim's life is never again the same. When that happens, it is equally reasonable to expect that medical care will be provided for as long as it is needed, even if that is for the rest of one's life.

To understand all such rights and responsibilities, it's important to speak with experienced legal counsel.

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