What Is PTSD?
PTSD, also known as a post-traumatic stress disorder, is a psychiatric disorder that occurs in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event or serious physical injury. While most people associate PTSD with military combat, it can also be triggered by a severe accident, such as a car crash. People who have PTSD often have life-long struggles with managing this type of anxiety disorder — for many, intense therapy and treatments are necessary for helping them cope. Here’s what every accident victim needs to know about PTSD.
How Do Accidents Cause PTSD?
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), people who experience a motor vehicle crash are at an increased risk of developing psychological problems, including PTSD. After being involved in such a traumatic event and sustaining a severe injury, victims often re-experience the trauma over and over again through thoughts or situations that may be associated with the accident — for example, constant thoughts or dreams about the accident.
Someone with PTSD may also avoid anything that could be associated with a motor vehicle accident, such as refusing to drive.
Catastrophic Injuries and PTSD
Being involved in an accident is undoubtedly a frightening experience. Those who sustain a severe or life-altering injury have an increased risk of having mental health challenges, such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD. The following are the most common types of catastrophic injuries sustained in severe accidents:
- Amputations/limb loss
- Electrocution/electrical injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
What are the Warning Signs of PTSD?
According to a study published by the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 39.2% of motor vehicle accident survivors develop PTSD. In some cases, PTSD may not show up for months or years after a traumatic experience. PTSD symptoms are grouped into four categories: intrusive memories, avoidance, negative outlook and mood, and hyperarousal. Below, we explore each symptom in-depth:
Intrusive memories may include the following signs:
- Unwanted, recurring memories of the event.
- Having flashbacks of the traumatic event.
- Nightmares and dreams about the traumatic event.
- Emotional distress or physical reactions to something that is a reminder of that traumatic event.
Avoidance may include the following signs:
- Steering clear of anything that triggers memories of the traumatic event.
- Avoiding places, activities, or people that may be a reminder of the traumatic event.
Negative outlook and mood may include the following signs:
- Negative thoughts about oneself or other people.
- Feelings of hopelessness for the future.
- Memory issues (this can also include not remembering essential details about the traumatic event).
- Mistrust of others.
- Difficulty maintaining intimate relationships or relationships with friends and family.
- Lack of interest in activities that were once enjoyed.
- Feeling “emotionally numb.”
Hyperarousal may include the following signs:
- Easily frightened or startled (jumpiness).
- Always feeling “on alert” or “on edge.”
- Trouble concentrating.
- Difficulty sleeping.
- Aggressive behaviors such as outbursts.
- Easy to anger.
- Self-destructive behavior (drinking alcohol too much or doing drugs).
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, it’s critical to seek professional help from a doctor right away. Not only will you be able to work on overcoming your trauma and manage PTSD, having medical documentation is critical if you are going to pursue a personal injury claim.
In the most severe cases of PTSD, someone may have suicidal thoughts. If you or a loved one has suicidal thoughts after having a traumatic accident, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 for help or contact a mental health professional as soon as possible.
Can You Sue for PTSD After an Accident?
In short, yes, you can. However, it can be challenging to prove PTSD since it’s not as apparent as a bodily injury. To prove PTSD in a personal injury claim, it’s critical to have the following:
- Official documentation of a PTSD diagnosis.
- Records of treatments and therapies from a mental health professional.
- Expert witnesses. These professionals are often called on to validate the medical treatments, medical costs, and other therapies and treatments associated with your claim. They can also testify to your symptoms and demonstrate the link between your accident and the development of PTSD.
It’s not uncommon for insurance companies to give pushback on PTSD claims. You can bet they will go through your claim with a fine-toothed comb and look for the smallest mistakes or discrepancies to deny compensation. They may also look at pre-existing conditions, such as past mental health issues or if you may have been diagnosed with PTSD prior to your accident since it could be argued that your traumatic accident exacerbated your mental health condition. Still, cases like this require an experienced personal injury attorney who understands how to handle insurance company tactics.
When suing for PTSD, you may be able to seek damages for the following:
- Medical expenses
- Long-term care
- Counseling and psychotherapy
- Past and future lost earnings
Injured in an Accident? We Can Help.
Big cases require big resources. Being involved in an accident can cause severe injuries that can pose life-long complications. If you’ve been hurt in an accident due to another’s negligence, we are here for you. From car and truck accidents to construction accidents and industrial explosions, our team of experienced attorneys will protect your rights to receive the maximum compensation you deserve. We have a track record of securing results in complex cases for our clients, and we want to do the same for you.
Contact Dolt, Thompson, Shepherd & Conway, PSC at (502) 242-8872 to learn how we may assist you.