If I was injured in an auto accident and refuse recommended surgery, does my insurance company still have to pay my wages?

I was injured in an auto accident almost a year ago. I was not at fault. As a result, I suffered a ligament tear in my left wrist. I have been to 3 different doctors now, with the second one doing an unsuccessful surgical procedure, and the 3rd doctor now recommends surgery again. I have surgical anxiety due to the first one being unsuccessful and would like to refuse surgery. My insurance company has been paying my wages while I am disabled. If I refuse surgery, does my insurance company still have to pay my wages as long as I am declared disabled?

Asked on October 14, 2011 under Personal Injury, Michigan

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If you refuse the recommended medical treatment, then the insurer probably does not need to pay your wages indefinitely; they can likely stop paying them either when you refuse the treatment or at the time that, had you taken the treatment, you most likely have been healed enough to work again. The reason is the law imposes on people a duty to "mitigate damages," or take reasonable steps to reduce how much money they lose. If someone refuses to mitigate, that lets the other party off the hook to pay, or reduces how much they have to pay. Refusing to accept medical treament that could allow you to return to work is no reasonable; therefore, at some point, you insurer would likely be able to stop paying. They do not need to support you for months or years while you do not work, when you could have done something to correct the situation.


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