can car accidents cause ptsd?

Can Car Accident Victims Suffer From PTSD?

Every year in the US, more than six million auto accidents take place, which result in an estimated 2.5 million injuries. In addition to the physical injuries, many accident victims also suffer from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). Automobile accidents are, in fact, the leading cause of PTSD in the US. Figures published by the National Institute of Mental Health suggest that nearly two in five motor vehicle accident survivors may develop PTSD.

Car accidents don’t just cause physical injuries – they may also result in long-term emotional trauma. This emotional trauma can contribute to debilitating medical conditions, such as anxiety, depression, or PTSD. Physical injuries are usually obvious with straightforward medical treatments. They also provide easy proof of injury. Conversely, emotional trauma and pain and suffering can be difficult to calculate and prove.

Mississippi laws are largely favorable to accident victims suffering from emotional distress. You should consider seeking the help of an accomplished personal injury attorney to build a strong case and obtain your rightful damages.

Causes of PTSD

Researchers over the years have evaluated some of the signs that reveal that an auto accident survivor may be suffering from PTSD. According to some studies, the strongest sign that survivors reveal within six months after their car accident is the perception that their life was in danger.

Some other studies have found that suppressing the thoughts about the vehicle accident, avoidance behavior, thinking about the trauma frequently, and dissociative behavior are strong PTSD predictors that can be noticed within two to six months after the auto accident.

When the accident survivor strongly perceives that their life was endangered during the auto accident, it can result in avoidance behaviors. An example would be avoiding travel on highways or refusing to get into a car. These behaviors can increase the survivor’s chances of developing PTSD.

Worsening of PTSD Symptoms

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (fifth edition) says that you may have developed PTSD after a car accident, if you are experiencing some of the following symptoms:

  • Negativity in mood and thinking
  • Altered emotional reactions
  • Intrusive memories
  • Avoidance behaviors

These symptoms should gradually disappear if you do not have PTSD. But if you notice that the symptoms are persisting, becoming more frequent or more severe, if you are increasingly avoiding certain situations, or your symptoms are disrupting your lifestyle, you need to get medically evaluated for PTSD.

Challenges for Car Crash PTSD Victims

For a car accident victim, the suffering that arises from PTSD is just as real as the pain from a physical injury. But as this suffering is invisible to others, the victim may not only struggle at a psychological and emotional level but may also feel distressed due to absence of social support.

After the car accident, you might feel embarrassed to share your feelings of helplessness and fear with your family members, friends, and even a medical professional. You may try to rationalize and resolve your mental condition on your own, but these negative feelings are hard to shake off.

When you are on the road, you might start feeling paranoia and become distrustful of other drivers. Sometimes you may have to struggle with a burden of guilty because you might think that somehow you were at fault for your injuries. If the auto accident resulted in a fatality, your condition may be even worse as you might suffer from “survivor’s guilt”.

Tips to Cope with Emotional and Psychological Trauma Following a Car Accident

These are a few coping strategies that may help if you were involved in a car accident and are suffering from emotional or psychological trauma:

1. Let your doctor know

Car accident victims that don’t have any bodily injuries usually don’t seek medical help. However, what they fail to understand is that emotional trauma and mental health symptoms are part of the injury too.

2. Talk to friends and family

Relative, friends, counselors, and religious leaders can provide a great support system following a car accident. You can speak with them about fears and thoughts regarding the accident.

3. Exercise

Endorphins (happy hormones) are released by regular exercise. This can make you feel more positive and help towards reducing pain. You should speak with your doctor about safe physical activities.

4. Maintain a journal

You should maintain a journal of your emotions and feelings while you are recovering from a car accident. This is a good way of tracking your mental health and managing your emotions. Journaling also helps document everything you are going through in one place. It can serve as evidence in case your claim needs to go to trial.

5. Follow a schedule

You should resume your normal routine and activities. This will help you regain control of normalcy and your life. It will also allow you to manage your symptoms better.

6. Stay motivated

It’s not your fault that you were a victim of a car accident. You should take adequate steps for empowering and motivating yourself. This can be through a defensive driver course or by improving safe driving skills.

Legal Damages for Car Accident Related PTSD

If your car accident occurred because of another’s negligence, and you are suffering from PTSD, you may be entitled to receive compensation. Some of the damages that you may be able to recover in this case include:

Costs of Counseling and Therapy with a Mental Health Professional

  • Costs of transport for multiple visits to the doctor’s office for PTSD diagnosis and therapy sessions
  • Costs of inpatient treatment programs, if any
  • Costs of prescription drugs
  • Costs of treatment for any correlated issues, such as alcohol or drug abuse rehab
  • Financial compensation for the emotional suffering and mental anguish

Emotional pain and psychological suffering are hard to prove. Make sure you have an experienced personal injury attorney on your side who has the necessary experience in dealing with PTSD related cases. They will be able to establish strong evidence and help you obtain your rightful compensation.

Speak to an Accomplished Auto Accident Attorney Today

PTSD is a real problem after a car accident, and it may be causing you emotional and psychological distress. PTSD may interfere with your daily life, reduce your productivity, and hurt your relationships and career prospects.

If you or someone you love has suffered from PTSD following a car accident in Mississippi, our knowledgeable personal injury lawyers at the Gardner Law Firm can help. We understand what kind of tactics the insurance companies will use to escape from liability in these cases.

We will meticulously collect all the medical data, documentation and other evidence to prove your PTSD symptoms. Our experienced legal team is equipped to handle even the most complex personal injury cases. We will develop the right strategy and negotiate for the maximum compensation on your behalf, while you focus on your treatment and cope with your PTSD symptoms. Call us at 228-436-6555 to schedule a free initial consultation.