Car accidents can have lasting consequences far beyond physical injuries. For many people, the emotional trauma sustained in the crash can manifest as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), affecting daily life, work, and relationships. If you are diagnosed with PTSD after a motor vehicle collision, you could claim damages for the mental illness in an insurance claim or lawsuit.
Signs and Symptoms of PTSD After a Car Accident
PTSD symptoms might not be immediately evident and could take time to surface, sometimes even years after the traumatic event. The symptoms are categorized into four main types: intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood, and changes in physical and emotional reactions.
- Intrusive Memories: These may include recurrent distressing memories or flashbacks of the accident, nightmares, or severe emotional distress triggered by reminders of the event.
- Avoidance: You steer clear of anything that reminds you of the traumatic event, whether places, activities, or people associated with it. Many car accident victims stop driving or even refuse to get into a vehicle after a collision.
- Negative Changes in Thinking and Mood: Symptoms may include persistent negative thoughts, hopelessness, memory gaps regarding the traumatic event, difficulty in maintaining relationships, emotional numbness, or a lack of interest in previous activities.
- Changes in Physical and Emotional Reactions: Symptoms often include heightened alertness, self-destructive behavior, sleep issues, trouble concentrating, irritability, and overwhelming guilt or shame.
Economic versus Non-Economic Damages in Car Accident Claims
Damages in car accident claims are broadly divided into economic and non-economic categories. Economic damages cover quantifiable costs such as medical bills, lost wages, and property damage. They are generally easier to prove, given the range of tangible evidence that can be used to prove them.
Non-economic damages, on the other hand, relate to non-tangible suffering like chronic pain, emotional distress, and in this context, PTSD. While economic damages can be proven with bills and wage slips, non-economic damages like PTSD require a more nuanced approach for substantiation.
How to Prove Damages for PTSD After a Collision
In 2022 there were nearly 43,000 car accidents in the US that resulted in the loss of life to someone involved. Survivors of accidents where a fatality occurred will be required to successfully prove PTSD was related to the motor vehicle accident but can often obtain compensation for medical bills, lost income as well as pain and suffering.
Given the subjective nature of psychological conditions like PTSD, establishing its direct link to a car accident can be challenging. Only a qualified mental health professional can officially diagnose PTSD. To prove damages, your attorney needs to establish that your psychological trauma is a direct result of the accident and the at-fault driver’s negligence.
Medical records from mental health professionals can serve as crucial evidence in these situations. Detailed therapist’s notes can help link the symptoms to the accident. In some instances, the mental health professional might even testify in court. Maintaining a personal journal can further help document the PTSD, its impact on your daily life, and any behavioral changes, serving as additional evidence.
Contact a California Car Accident Lawyer as Soon as Possible
If you believe you’re suffering from PTSD following a car accident, you are not alone. However, time is of the essence in these situations. Because PTSD symptoms might not manifest immediately, it’s essential to seek professional help as soon as possible. After receiving medical care, contact an attorney who can represent your legal claim.
A Bakersfield car accident lawyer can guide you through every step of your claim and help you recover the compensation you deserve. Contact an attorney to discuss your case and plan your path forward.