Car Accidents and PTSD: What Victims Must Know

Car Accidents and PTSD: What Victims Must Know

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A car accident is never a pleasant event. Even a minor fender bender can damage someone’s mental health and more severe collisions can create deep emotional scars. Sometimes the psychological damage can be worse than a totaled SUV and broken bones. Recurring thoughts of the crash, mounting medical bills, and a loss of income can be too much to bear for some car accident victims. Sometimes PTSD is the worst of the injuries, yet only the victim can see it.

Riverside County car crash victims can find help by seeking out a car accident lawyer in Murrieta. A compassionate yet savvy legal team on your side will ensure you’re compensated for all your damages, not just your medical bills.

What Is PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is an emotional condition experienced after a particularly dangerous, shocking, or tragic event. Although primarily known as affecting those in the military who’ve experienced the horrors of combat, they’re not the only victims. Many who’ve been through a horrific car crash are diagnosed with PTSD and other emotional disorders. Although most will experience many emotions after a sudden and tragic event, some are scarred deeply.

Car accident victims can sometimes experience emotional disturbances that can negatively affect their lives after the crash. Symptoms of PTSD can include:

  • Intrusive thoughts – Post-accident car crash victims can relive the accident in their minds frequently, causing them panic attacks and other emotional issues. Nightmares about the event are common.
  • Avoidance – Accident victims can experience anxiety at the mere thought of driving or even being a passenger in a car. They’ll avoid driving, if possible. If not, they’ll do so with extreme caution and fear.
  • Mood changes – PTSD victims can experience severe mood swings, feel hopeless, and lose interest in the things that used to bring them joy.
  • Abnormal reactions to common events – Loud noises, car horns, and anything that remotely reminds them of the car accident can bring about abnormal reactions like extreme fear or a feeling that danger is imminent.

Is There Treatment for PTSD?

Once an accident victim has been diagnosed with PTSD after a psychological exam, their mental health care professional can recommend the best possible treatment plan. Some common treatment plans after a car accident can include:

  • Cognitive therapy – Cognitive therapy can help the patient move forward by recognizing patterns of behavior and thinking that revolve around the accident.
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR) – This interesting approach to PTSD has the patient briefly think about the accident while making bilateral eye movements. This helps them to reduce the emotions and vividness of recalling the traumatic event.
  • Medications – Some patients will be prescribed antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications to help them with depression and anxiety which are common with PTSD.

Can PTSD Be Recovered as Damages in a California Car Accident Case?

The state of California does allow car accident plaintiffs to include PTSD on the list of damages they’re seeking for compensation. However, since this condition is emotional and not physical, it could require more than a mere medical bill from a mental health professional. Fortunately, a savvy personal injury attorney can help to prove that you’ve directly suffered emotionally due to the defendant’s negligence. This is typically done with the following evidence:

  • A mental healthcare provider’s notes and observations
  • Medical bills for healthcare services
  • A psychiatric professional’s sworn medical option
  • Statements from family and friends about the accident victim’s emotional changes

What is a PTSD Claim Worth?

Calculating possible compensation for PTSD after a car crash will depend on a few different variables. Insurance companies may fight the validity of this type of claim, however, your personal injury attorney will base the amount on the following:

  • The current cost of your mental healthcare treatment
  • Anticipated costs of future mental health treatments
  • The severity of the accident and your injuries
  • Estimated loss of future income due to PTSD

Car Accidents and PTSD: Final Thoughts

Sometimes the most painful and deepest scars following a serious car accident can’t be seen by the naked eye. Broken bones will heal, but for some, this traumatic event lives on daily in their mind. Nightmares, sleeping disorders, and anxiety could become their new normal. It’s not uncommon for victims of a severe car accident to suffer from PTSD.

With the savvy of an experienced personal injury attorney, you can be compensated for this sometimes debilitating emotional disorder. Statements from psychiatric specialists, family, close friends, and the victim can help to prove this difficult-to-see but all too real condition does exist. Treatments for PTSD can be costly and take months or longer before progress is made. Car accident victims should be compensated for their suffering.

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