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PTSD After a Car Crash: Signs & Symptoms

LeeAnn Riddle   |  April 8, 2019   |  

Have You Suffered PTSD After a Car Crash?

Compensation may be available if you've suffered PTSD after a car accident, depending on the situation.Brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, broken bones, lacerations, and burn injuries are all possible outcomes after being involved in a serious car crash. Motor vehicle crashes can also lead to the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that 9 percent of the general population involved in auto accidents develop PTSD after a car crash.

Survivors may be more likely to develop PTSD after a car accident if they have certain risk factors. A prior history of concussions, closed head injuries, depression, anxiety, and/or mental health problems could increase the risk. According to the VA, the severity of physical injuries or the amount of social support from friends and family could also affect whether a person develops a mental health disorder. We have found in our experience that children can also suffer PTSD from a car accident.

In all cases, it is very important to seek prompt treatment of PTSD symptoms. Medical providers can provide help through therapy and even prescriptions in severe cases. We can offer our clients several medical providers that can offer medical help to our clients.

Symptoms of PTSD for Car Crash Victims

The symptoms of PTSD can make life very difficult for crash survivors. PTSD symptoms listed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Mayo Clinic include but are not limited to:

  • Flashbacks, nightmares, or reminders of the traumatic event that provoke a severe emotional response.
  • Avoidance of activities, people, places, feelings, or thoughts that are related to the traumatic experience.
  • Social isolation caused by feeling detached from others. People with PTSD could have a greater difficulty maintaining relationships.
  • Intense anxiety that interferes with sleeping or concentration.
  • Depression, and/or lack of interest in activities that were once enjoyed and thoughts of hopelessness about the future. Individuals with PTSD have an increased risk of suicide.
  • Children can suffer failing grades and rapidly declining performance in the classroom.

As you can see, the symptoms of PTSD can make it very difficult for car accident survivors to meet their social, familial, or professional obligations. PTSD severely reduces the quality of life for those injured in an accident. The consequences of PTSD can also impact the family members of the injured victim.

***IMPORTANT: If you are experiencing PTSD or other mental or emotional trauma, call the National Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration hotline for confidential help: 1-800-622-HELP

Do Personal Injury Cases Consider Psychological Trauma?

Personal injury claims for motor vehicle accidents may also take psychological damages like PTSD into account. Psychological injuries can incur significant economic and noneconomic costs. For instance, crash survivors may be unable to return to their occupations or they could require extensive mental health services. Many survivors will experience a significant loss of enjoyment in life. These factors are often considered in car accident injury cases.

Is a Diagnosis for PTSD Required for My Personal Injury Claim?

"It's important to get diagnosed and begin treatment when seeking compensation for PTSD after a car accident." -Gene RiddleIn most personal injury cases, the victim must be diagnosed by a doctor and should receive medical or psychological treatment for this condition.  Just claiming that you have emotional injuries is generally not enough to actually recover compensation for PTSD after a car crash. As with other injuries, diagnosis and treatment by a medical provider is vital to prove damages and recover.  We see all kinds of people who suffer mentally or emotionally following a collision.  Adults and children, men and women, people from all walks of life can potentially suffer from PTSD after a collision.

If you believe you are suffering from PTSD after a car accident (or other emotional trauma after an accident), be sure to seek appropriate medical care, and talk to your doctor about all the ways it is affecting your life. 

This can be vital in two important ways :

  1. Prompt diagnosis and initiation of appropriate treatment are important to recovery. Medications, talk therapy (solo or group), and lifestyle adjustments (avoiding stress, staying away from loud environments, etc.) are all treatment options that doctors may recommend.  You may be able to get this care through your family doctor or a primary care physician, but often it is necessary to obtain a referral to a specialist with experience treating PTSD in cases involving traumatic collisions. Initiation of prompt treatment can significantly reduce recovery times, and lead to better outcomes.
  2. Appropriate diagnosis and treatment can assist in helping you recover for your injuries as part of your personal injury claim. Diagnosis from a qualified physician who is willing to testify as an expert witness at deposition or trial can be vital to proving to insurance companies and/or juries that your PTSD is a serious problem and one that stemmed from your collision.

Simply telling a jury that you suffered from PTSD after a collision and that you did not suffer from PTSD before the collision, is not legally sufficient proof.  In the law, this is referred to as “post hoc, ergo prompter hoc,” meaning to assume one thing caused another simply because one situation followed or proceeded with the other.  To succeed in recovering appropriate damages in a personal injury claim, you will need a qualified physician to state that the collision was a substantial causal factor in causing the PTSD.

The collision does not need to be the only cause of PTSD.  Most medical conditions have many causes.  And many people have pre-existing conditions that are exacerbated or aggravated by a collision.  The collision need only be a substantial causal factor, not the only factor, in causing an individual to suffer from PTSD.

Have You Been Injured in a Car Crash?

The North Carolina car accident lawyers at Riddle & Brantley, LLP will fight to help you recover compensation for medical bills, lost wages, loss of future earning capacity and other damages, including PTSD. Our attorneys also have experience helping veterans with PTSD recover Social Security and VA benefits.

For a free, no-obligation consultation, call us at 1-800-525-7111 or fill out the form below. There are never any attorney fees unless we win your case and get you compensation.

We look forward to seeing if we can help.