When you hear about post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), you might think about soldiers who have seen combat or victims of long-term abuse. While members of these groups often do develop PTSD, anyone who goes through a traumatic experience can develop PTSD. Auto accidents can cause PTSD for some individuals. Studies show that PTSD occurs in approximately 25-33 percent of car accident victims for at least 30 days after the crash.
This condition can make parts of their life difficult and require extensive psychotherapy and other treatments to manage it. As such, PTSD can be a compensable loss in a car accident claim. A car accident lawyer can assist you in pursuing damages if you suffer from this condition.
What Is PTSD?
PTSD is defined as an anxiety disorder that develops after an event that involves a death or a threat of death, serious injury, or a threat to the physical health of oneself or others. While some people with PTSD experience repeated traumas, others can develop it from a single traumatic experience such as a car accident.
People who have PTSD have specific symptoms, such as:
- Re-experiencing the traumatic event: This can occur in many ways, including nightmares, flashbacks, repetitive thoughts about the event, and even visual or auditory triggers. These symptoms can cause problems with sleep patterns.
- Emotional numbing or avoidance: The individual may not want to be around people, in certain places, or in situations that remind them of the event that caused their trauma. It is normal for trauma to cause some anxiety. However, if it reaches the level of stopping someone from participating in their usual activities, it could be a PTSD symptom.
- Hyper-arousal: Factors that did not cause anxiety before the traumatic event now caused anxious responses, such as increased heart rate or respiration, the feeling of butterflies in the stomach, or sweating. The individual may also startle easily, have increased irritability, and problems sleeping.
- Changes in attitude and thoughts: A traumatic event has the potential to change how some people view the world around them. The event may cause them to feel down or depressed about things that did not previously bother them. For example, a car accident victim might believe that driving is unsafe.
If you or someone you love experience any of these symptoms or other symptoms of concern after a car accident, be sure to seek out mental health resources. You may also want to speak with a PTSD lawyer who can answer your questions about possible compensation for PTSD and other forms of emotional distress.
Treating PTSD After a Car Accident
PTSD does not have to affect victims for the rest of their lives. It is treatable when the right steps are taken, and a person is willing to seek (and comply with) therapies. In many cases, people who have PTSD can learn coping skills to manage their symptoms and get back to their daily activities.
Behavioral therapy is one treatment that has proven successful in many people with PTSD. With the help of a trained therapist, it often helps the individual find ways to manage what triggers their PTSD.
For those who have been in car accidents and fear getting back in a vehicle, therapists help them to focus on the present moment. By doing this, their thinking shifts from what happened and the worries of it happening again to what is going on now. Interestingly, research shows that the worst thing individuals with PTSD can do is to avoid their triggers, such as not getting back in a car at all. The longer the avoidance lasts, the worse the anxiety and negative feelings can become. Running away from these triggering experiences trains the brain, both behaviorally and neurologically, to avoid them even more.
With the proper treatment from mental health professionals, car accident victims with PTSD can recover and return to their normal lives. While they may still have experiences that trigger their anxiety, they know how to manage them, and their symptoms are less frequent or severe than they once were.
Can You Receive Compensation for PTSD in a Car Accident Claim?
When you file an insurance claim or a lawsuit after a car accident, the goal is to recover compensation to make you whole again. Of course, no amount of money can undo the damages done to accident victims. However, the compensation should be sufficient to pay for all treatment needed and account for the damage done to a person’s life. This includes compensation for all types of damages and losses, including those related to mental health. In many instances, a car accident attorney can help you receive compensation for your PTSD.
PTSD is a real diagnosis. It has the potential to change how you live your daily life drastically. Recovering from PTSD may also require extensive counseling and therapy. Treatment is often expensive, and many victims cannot afford to pay out-of-pocket for it. For these reasons, car accident victims with PTSD can and should seek damages for their mental health treatment. Doing so will typically involve providing treatment records and possibly testimony from your mental health and medical professionals.
Im most cases, your car accident lawyer will need to be able to prove the following in your case to ensure your case is successful:
- The other driver owed you a duty of care, such as driving the speed limit or not texting while driving
- The other driver breached that duty of care by not obeying the rules of the road or acting as a reasonable driver would
- Their breach of duty caused your injuries
- Your injuries left you with damages, such as PTSD for which you deserve fair compensation
How a Car Accident Lawyer Can Help
Your mental health is of utmost importance after a car accident. If you are experiencing the symptoms of PTSD or other mental health issues after a car accident, first seek the assistance of a mental health professional. Then contact an attorney from Bohn & Fletcher, LLP to discuss your options to pursue compensation. A car accident attorney can evaluate the viability of your case and the potential for obtaining monetary compensation for your PTSD.
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