What Happens if You Get PTSD After a Car Accident?
You may have the right to seek compensation for the post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) you experience following a car accident and any other physical, emotional, or financial injuries you sustained.
Here’s an overview of how accidents can cause PTSD, its impacts, and the role a car accident lawyer can play in securing compensation for it and other harm you suffered.
What Is PTSD?
PTSD is a mental health condition that can develop after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. This could be anything from combat exposure in a war zone to a serious car accident.
Severe anxiety, nightmares, flashbacks, and uncontrollable thoughts about the traumatic event characterize PTSD. It can make living a normal life difficult.
They may avoid places or people that remind them of the trauma, have difficulty sleeping, or experience sudden mood swings.
Common signs of PTSD go beyond general stress or anxiety. They can include recurring, intrusive memories or dreams about the traumatic event, intense emotional distress or physical reactions to reminders of the trauma, and feelings of detachment from others.
People with PTSD may exhibit changes in emotional reactions, such as startling easily, having trouble concentrating, or experiencing sleep disturbances. Understanding these signs is the first step toward recognizing and treating PTSD.
Car Accidents and PTSD
Car accidents, unfortunately, are a common cause of PTSD.
Research suggests that approximately 22.5 percent of individuals who survive car accidents develop PTSD, making it a significant health concern for crash victims. The percentage of people developing PTSD may increase in cases where the car accident involved severe injuries or a fatality.
Car accidents can lead to PTSD due to various factors. The most prominent reason is the traumatic experience itself. The shock of the sudden impact and the fear or experience of injury or death can deeply shape an individual’s mental health. In some cases, if people have previously experienced traumatic events, a car accident might trigger memories of past trauma, further increasing the risk of PTSD.
Recognizing PTSD After a Car Accident
After a car accident, pay attention to changes in your mental health. PTSD symptoms specific to car accident victims may vary, but some common ones include a persistent feeling of unease or fear when thinking about driving or riding in a vehicle, recurring nightmares about the car accident, and feeling agitated or easily startled when experiencing loud noises or sudden movements reminiscent of the crash.
PTSD can influence your daily life just as physical injuries from a car accident might.
Victims may find it challenging to return to normal routines or carry out tasks they once did without trouble. They might avoid driving or even being a passenger in a car, for instance. This can limit their mobility, causing them to miss out on social activities and even modify their ability to hold down a job or attend school. They may also suffer from extreme distress at the thought of loved ones driving or riding in cars.
Recognizing these signs and symptoms is critical to receiving appropriate help. Symptoms might appear immediately after the car accident or can manifest in weeks or even months.
If you experienced a car accident and now suffer from these symptoms, seek help from a qualified mental health professional as soon as possible. Ignoring these signs could significantly impair daily life and overall well-being.
Potential Compensation for PTSD
PTSD is a form of personal injury. Like physical trauma, PTSD can significantly shape a victim’s life.
Car accident victims, consequently, who suffer from PTSD may receive compensation for:
- Medical expenses in treatment.
- Loss of income and job benefits from missing work.
- Emotional anguish.
- Physical discomfort or other ailments.
- Diminished quality of life or personal relationships.
Sometimes, a lawyer can also secure punitive damages for car accident victims who suffer from PTSD. These damages punish the at-fault party’s extreme or malicious misconduct.
The types and compensation you can get for PTSD and other harm you suffered in a car accident can depend on the severity of your condition, the strength of the evidence supporting your claim, and the financial resources the at-fault parties have to pay you. Call a skilled lawyer today to learn about the compensation you can claim after a car accident.
State Law Variations in Seeking Compensation for PTSD
State law varies when awarding compensation for mental health conditions such as PTSD as personal injuries. Historically, the law required the presence of a physical injury for a car accident victim to claim damages for an accompanying mental health condition like PTSD.
The only time you could recover for purely psychological harm, without accompanying physical injury, was if you witnessed your loved one suffer injuries in a traumatic event such as a car accident due to someone else (a claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress) or if someone intentionally caused you mental distress (intentional infliction of emotional distress).
Those somewhat antiquated rules had their base in a poor understanding of mental illness and its capacity to overwhelm a person’s life.
The requirement of a physical injury as a condition for recovering damages for PTSD remains in effect in a few U.S. states. Car accident victims in those locations may face difficulty securing meaningful compensation when a car accident only causes psychological trauma (although it’s not impossible if you have an experienced lawyer).
Increasingly, however, state courts and legislatures are catching up with the scientific and medical consensus that a traumatic event such as a car accident can cause PTSD and similar psychological challenges and that they have measurable and significant repercussions on a person’s life.
In those states, car accident victims can obtain compensation for PTSD even if they didn’t also suffer physical injuries. Victims still need the services of a skilled lawyer, however, to ensure they receive every last penny they deserve.
How a Personal Injury Lawyer Secures Compensation for PTSD Due to a Car Accident
Collecting compensation for PTSD after a car accident usually involves a complicated legal process to demand payment from at-fault parties and others legally liable for your losses.
An experienced personal injury lawyer with an established track record of securing monetary damages for car accident victims who suffer from PTSD can better handle such cases.
A personal injury lawyer’s primary role in a car accident case is to handle every step in obtaining the maximum compensation for your losses—including those arising from your PTSD and any other physical, emotional, or financial harm you suffered because of the crash.
Lawyers know how to accomplish the numerous legal tasks involved in claiming compensation, such as locating and gathering evidence to support a claim, negotiating with insurance companies, and, if necessary, proving a client’s case in court.
To obtain monetary damages for PTSD in a car accident case, a lawyer will typically need to gather and present evidence of your symptoms and their impact on your life. This typically involves interviewing you and your loved ones and acquaintances, reviewing your medical records, and assessing the financial toll of PTSD.
Working with your treating physicians or specialized medical providers, your lawyer may also obtain an expert opinion and testimony explaining how the car accident caused your PTSD and its probable duration and effects on your life. This kind of expert testimony can be a powerful tool in proving the severity and legitimacy of your PTSD symptoms.
In most cases, securing compensation for PTSD involves more than just proving your condition. It also requires showing that the other driver or another party was at fault for the accident and that their carelessness, recklessness, or intentional wrongdoing directly led to your mental health challenges.
A personal injury lawyer with experience in car accident cases can navigate these complex issues on your behalf and build the strongest case for compensation against as many liable parties as possible.
Remember, every car accident case is unique, just as your experience with PTSD will be uniquely your own. An experienced personal injury lawyer can provide the personalized attention your case deserves to maximize your chances of fair compensation for your PTSD and other accident-related losses.
Steps to Protect Your Legal Rights After Suffering PTSD From a Car Accident
PTSD after a car accident forces you to deal with emotional and psychological distress and simultaneously face the complexities of securing your legal rights and financial future.
Your legal rights vary according to the steps you take after encountering PTSD from a car accident, and your actions can significantly diminish the potential compensation you receive. Here are some suggestions for how to protect your interests effectively:
Take Care of Yourself
One of the most important steps is to continue with your mental health treatment. Taking care of your mental health benefits your recovery and is crucial in your personal injury case. The value of your car accident claim relies heavily on demonstrating your commitment to receiving treatment (which, in turn, can also demonstrate the persistence and severity of your PTSD).
Hire an Experienced Lawyer Immediately
Engaging a lawyer as soon as possible is also vital to the success of your claim for PTSD damages after a car accident. Once hired, an experienced personal injury lawyer can gather the evidence before it goes missing and testimonies before witness’ memories fade.
A lawyer can also ensure you don’t miss any crucial legal deadlines—the statute of limitations for car accident injury claims can vary from a few months to a few years, depending on your state’s laws. You have no time to lose.
Hiring a lawyer to handle your car accident-related PTSD claim is affordable. Experienced personal injury lawyers offer free consultations to crash victims like you to allow you to learn about your rights and options.
You’ll never have to pay for a consultation, even if you decide not to proceed with legal action. Lawyers also represent their car accident clients on contingency—you pay them nothing for their services unless they win for you.
Beware of Quick Settlement Offers
If the at-fault party’s insurance company approaches you with a quick settlement offer, it might seem like an easy way to resolve your claim. But it’s typically a bad idea to accept these offers without consulting an experienced lawyer first.
Quick initial settlements often offer far less than needed to cover your bills and facilitate recovery. A lawyer negotiating on your behalf can usually secure a larger settlement that accurately reflects the true monetary value of your losses.
Contact an Experienced Car Accident Injury Lawyer Today
Recognize the symptoms and seek appropriate treatment for PTSD following a car accident. You also need to safeguard your legal rights, and you can do that by hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer to handle your compensation claim.
If you or someone you love has PTSD from a car accident, don’t delay seeking legal help. Contact a skilled personal injury law firm in your area today for a free consultation.