If you've been injured in an auto accident, you may encounter a number of unfamiliar terms in the process of settling your claim. One of these terms is duties under duress, which is related to your pain and suffering compensation.
About Duties Under Duress
Duties under duress are tasks that you could easily perform before the accident, but now struggle to accomplish because of your injuries. For example, if you suffered a back injury, you may struggle to handle any task that involves lifting, bending, or sitting for long periods of time. Or, if you suffered a concussion, you may have lingering headaches and trouble concentrating at work.
Most duties under duress are related to symptoms of physical injury, but anxiety and depression may also play a role. If you're suffering from panic attacks, nightmares, or other mental health symptoms that are making it difficult to complete tasks that are a part of your daily routine, this should be included in your settlement.
Duties under duress can be related to work, education, household, or domestic duties. Some common examples of duties under duress include:
- Work activities. Limited range of motion, decreased physical strength or stamina, trouble remembering information, difficulty following directions, and other challenges related to your specific occupational duties.
- Education activities. Carrying books and supplies to class, sitting without pain during lectures, concentrating while studying, and other tasks related to performing successfully as a student.
- Household activities. Mowing the lawn, trimming hedges, maintaining your garden, washing windows, taking out the trash, grocery shopping, running errands, providing transportation for children, and other related tasks performed outside the home.
- Domestic activities. Washing dishes, doing laundry, vacuuming, dusting, making the bed, cooking meals, taking care of young children, and other tasks performed inside the home
Identifying Relevant Duties Under Duress
Duties under duress are important in a personal injury claim because they illustrate the extent of your pain and suffering related to your injuries. You can identify your duties under duress by thinking about the following questions:
- Have you had to hire someone to help with household or domestic tasks because of your injuries?
- Are friends and family currently assisting you with your chores?
- Has your supervisor made modifications to your job duties or are your coworkers assisting you with tasks at work that are difficult?
- Are there any duties you had trouble performing immediately after the accident, but can now successfully perform?
If you're not sure what duties under duress you've been experiencing, try keeping a journal to note what tasks are more difficult to accomplish as you go about your day. You may also want to consider asking close friends and family if they've noticed that you are struggling to complete certain tasks.
For each task you note, record what specific problems you are having and how much of your day is normally spent performing the task. Tasks that make up a significant portion of your daily routine are the most valuable duties under duress for the purpose of your personal injury claim. For example, not being able to focus on a computer screen due to visual impairments or headaches is more problematic for someone who works in an office than it would be for a stay-at-home parent.
Reporting Duties Under Duress
Any duties under duress that you note should be reported to your physician. Having your difficulties listed in your medical records clearly links them to your accident-related injuries.
When you're experiencing symptoms that are ongoing, you need to report them to your physician at every visit. If you do not report the symptoms at every visit, they won't appear in your chart notes. This will lead to the mistaken assumption that the issue has resolved itself.
Protecting Your Right to a Fair Settlement
In addition to sharing a detailed description of your duties under duress with your healthcare provider, it's important that you enlist the services of an experienced personal injury attorney to protect your right to a fair settlement. Attempting to resolve your case without representation will likely result in a settlement that doesn't adequately compensate you for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Call Rechtman & Spevak today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial case review.