Can You Get PTSD After a Car Accident?

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a complex psychological condition that most often develops in response to acute traumatic stress. This condition is very common among combat veterans, survivors of sexual assault and domestic abuse, and survivors of all types of childhood abuse. PTSD can also manifest after isolated traumatic events like car accidents and natural disasters. About 10% of people who experience car accidents develop PTSD symptoms in response to these experiences.

What Is PTSD?

PTSD is a complex condition and no two people who develop it will have the exact same experience. It can cause a wide range of symptoms that vary in severity, and some of these symptoms can persist for months or even years. PTSD often causes problems in the victim’s personal life, straining relationships, and making it difficult to focus on career obligations. Many people who struggle with PTSD face an increased risk of falling into substance abuse and engaging in risky behaviors to cope with their psychological stress.

PTSD can cause a host of complex and unpredictable symptoms.

  • Extreme feelings of anxiety, paranoia, and nervousness.
  • Difficulty sleeping or staying asleep.
  • Nightmares about the traumatic event.
  • Flashbacks of the traumatic event while awake.
  • Stress responses following exposure to environmental elements that reflect the traumatic event. For example, a person who develops PTSD after a car accident may feel anxious about riding in vehicles after the accident.
  • Personality changes, such as mood swings, aggression, and irritability.
  • Loss of interest in personal hobbies and social activities.

PTSD affects everyone with the condition differently. Some people will experience a wide range of symptoms that vary in severity while others may only experience one or two symptoms very acutely. People who struggle with PTSD often require treatment in the form of cognitive behavioral therapy, counseling, and psychiatric medications.

When PTSD Results From a Car Accident

Car accidents happen every day in the United States and some are more damaging than others. However, the physical damages resulting from a car accident could be the least significant to an injured plaintiff who developed a severe psychological condition after the accident. A personal injury claim may help an injured driver recover his or her medical expenses, including those incurred for treating PTSD caused by the accident. Additionally, PTSD may interfere with the victim’s ability to work, potentially entitling him or her to lost income compensation as well.

Noneconomic damages like pain and suffering often form some of the most substantial damages in personal injury claims. A diagnosed case of PTSD following an accident would not only lend credence to the victim’s claim to pain and suffering compensation but also likely lead to more compensation than the victim initially expected. Every jury uses different methods for calculating pain and suffering damages, but any victim who experiences significant psychological distress as a result of another party’s negligence should expect a reasonable recovery from a successful personal injury claim.

Filing a Lawsuit for PTSD in Boston, Massachusetts

A car accident victim’s ability to claim compensation for PTSD and associated damages hinges on the measurable effects of the accident. For example, if the victim sought immediate medical treatment for injuries and learned he or she developed a permanent disability from those injuries, this news can be extremely distressing and contribute to PTSD symptoms. Some victim may not experience symptoms for some time following their traumatic episodes.

Ultimately, if you or a loved one believe you developed PTSD from a recent car accident, the best thing to do is seek treatment as soon as possible. If a jury reviews your claim later, they will want to see that you took appropriate action.  Proof of the psychological damages and records of PTSD treatments will go a long way toward supporting your claim before a jury.

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