You may be feeling anxious and overwhelmed after a car accident. These feelings are a typical response shared by many accident victims. However, if you experience anxiety, fear, avoidance, mood changes, or other symptoms that impair your ability to function or perform daily activities, you could have post-traumatic stress disorder, or “PTSD.”

What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

PTSD is a mental health disorder that can develop after experiencing a near-death experience or traumatic event. 

Examples of events that could cause post-traumatic stress disorder include, but are not limited to:

  • Serving in the military in a combat zone or during wartime
  • Being involved in a motor vehicle accident, including crashes involving pedestrians, trucks, cars, bicyclists, and motorcycles
  • Being the victim of an assault or violent act
  • Surviving a natural disaster, such as a flood, tornado, earthquake, fire, hurricane, or flood
  • Witnessing the death or severe injury of another person

Some studies have indicated that being involved in a car crash increases a person’s risk of developing PTSD. One source states that traffic accidents are the leading cause of post-traumatic stress disorder since the end of the Vietnam War.

What Are the Symptoms of PTSD After a Car Accident?

The symptoms of PTSD can be debilitating. A person who has PTSD may be unable to work or perform ordinary daily activities. They may withdraw from family and society.

Individuals with PTSD may even re-experience the car accident. They may have cognition or mood problems and struggle with avoidance symptoms. In addition, certain sounds, smells, or places could trigger debilitating memories of the accident. 

Signs that you could have post-traumatic stress disorder after a car accident include:

  • Overwhelming feelings of fear and anxiety
  • Refusing to ride in a vehicle or drive a car
  • Anxiety attacks or fear when hearing emergency sirens or seeing emergency lights
  • Lack of interest in hobbies and activities that you enjoyed before the car crash
  • Nightmares and flashbacks of the accident
  • Avoiding situations, people, and places that remind you of the car wreck
  • Experiencing severe and unexplained mood swings or outbursts
  • Signs of depression 
  • Withdrawing from family, friends, and society
  • Changes in sleeping or eating habits
  • Being easily frightened or startled
  • Thoughts of hurting yourself or committing suicide

It is important that you seek immediate medical help if you experience any signs of depression or PTSD after an accident. A doctor can diagnose your condition and develop a treatment plan to help you cope with the symptoms of PTSD.

Treatment options may include medications, counseling, and therapy. Therapy may include a combination of behavioral, cognitive, and psychotherapy. 

Can I Recover Compensation for PTSD After a Car Accident? 

Yes, you can claim compensation for the non-economic damages and economic damages caused by PTSD after a car crash.

The types of damages you might recover include:

  • The cost of diagnosing and treating post-traumatic stress disorder
  • The loss of income if you miss time from work because of PTSD symptoms
  • The cost of counseling and other therapies to treat PTSD
  • The emotional and mental pain and suffering caused by the illness
  • The cost of medications to treat PTSD after a car accident
  • Reduced quality of life and loss of enjoyment of life

The amount of money you might receive for PTSD damages depends on the facts of your case. However, prompt treatment can help link your condition to the car accident.

Following your doctor’s treatment plan and participating in counseling and therapy sessions also increases your odds of recovering fair compensation for damages. 

Seeking legal advice can also be helpful. For example, a car accident lawyer can guide you through the steps you should take to protect your legal rights. In addition, having an attorney handle your claim can help reduce your stress levels so you can focus on your recovery.

Be Prepared for a Fight 

Many insurance companies discount emotional distress and mental anguish as damages caused by a car crash. Instead, claims adjusters accuse accident victims of making up symptoms or creating an illness to get money for an accident claim.

Keeping a journal of your recovery can help you prove that the car accident caused your PTSD. Make notes about:

  • Your emotional and mental state
  • Your daily level of depression or anxiety
  • The things that trigger your PTSD symptoms
  • The symptoms you experience 
  • The severity of your symptoms
  • The activities or tasks you cannot perform because of the disorder
  • How the PTSD impacts your relationship with friends and family members

The more details you can include in your journal, the better your attorney can explain how PTSD has impacted your life after the car accident. That level of detail can increase the chance that you recover maximum compensation for all car accident damages. 

For more information, call our law firm at (817) 420-7000 or visit our contact us page to send us an email.