When you are involved in a car accident, you can suffer more than just physical scars. Your car accident could be so graphic and traumatizing that it can cause you to suffer from one of the most difficult mental disorders to overcome. Many car accident victims can suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, known as PTSD.
Victims of PTSD can experience the symptoms of the disorder for the rest of their lives. What many car accident victims may not know is that they can demand compensation for the mental anguish that PTSD causes them to experience.
How can a car accident cause PTSD?
There are multiple ways that a car accident can cause a victim to develop PTSD. It is traumatizing to suddenly be struck by another vehicle, especially through no fault of your own. You may obey all of the traffic rules only to be seriously injured by a careless driver. Losing control of one’s vehicle is another traumatizing aspect of a car accident. The loss of control over one’s safety can make car accident victims feel helpless and defenseless.
Is PTSD a common condition after a car accident?
PTSD is a common effect of car accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that there are an estimated six million car accidents that happen in the United States. According to an article in VeryWellMind, one National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) study found that “39.2% of MVA survivors develop PTSD.”
What factors increase the chances of PTSD after a car accident?
Even though all car accident victims are at risk of suffering from PTSD, there are several factors that can increase the risks, including:
- Dissociation immediately after the car accident. Dissociation is an occurrence where a person experiences a disconnect between their emotions, senses, or thoughts. Following a car accident, a victim can dissociate when they detach themselves temporarily or longer from reality.
- History of prior trauma. Car accident victims who have a history of past trauma or mental disorders are at a greater risk of suffering from PTSD.
- Lack of social support after the car accident. Accident survivors who do not receive the appropriate support following a car crash have a greater chance of developing PTSD.
Common side effects of PTSD
After a car accident, it can be difficult to notice the symptoms of PTSD in yourself or your loved one. Here are some typical side effects of PTSD:
- Avoidance behaviors. PTSD victims practice avoidance behaviors when they make a conscious effort to avoid all reminders of the traumatic event. For car accident victims, avoidance behaviors can include refusing to travel in a vehicle or finding ways to avoid driving a car.
- Drastic changes in emotional reactions. Another sign of PTSD in victims is a change in the person’s emotional reactions. These changes can range from nightmares to severe mood swings. For car accident victims, an example of a drastic change includes nightmares related to the car accident, an emotional numbness, and feelings of confusion.
- Intrusive memories. PTSD victims experience consistent memories of the traumatic event. For car accident victims, this can happen when a victim’s mind constantly goes back to the car accident. Even when victims want to resist thinking of the car accident, their mind goes back to the accident through nightmares or memories.
- Negative reactions. PTSD victims can experience various negative reactions while coping with their symptoms. These negative reactions can include irritability, self-destructive behaviors, and concentration issues. Car accident victims can experience disturbances in their sleep, intentional isolation from family and friends, and anxiety.
Can Phoenix car accident victims sue for their PTSD diagnosis?
When you or a loved one have experienced a car accident, you may be concerned with the physical trauma and damages. While you are recovering from your physical injuries, you may not think to pursue compensation for your mental injuries, as the symptoms of your PTSD may not be immediately noticeable. It may take six months to a year after your accident until your PTSD symptoms form.
Fortunately, Arizona law allows car accident victims to sue for damages related to their PTSD symptoms. Under Arizona law, PTSD and other mental disorders can be considered mental anguish. Victims can pursue compensation for the psychological trauma caused by their PTSD diagnosis.
Difficulties with filing a claim for PTSD damages
Sometimes you may face challenges when pursuing damages related to your PTSD. These can include:
- Demonstrating the impact and severity of your disorder. Because you may not immediately experience the symptoms of PTSD, insurance companies may dispute the validity of your disorder. They may question how the disorder is causing a traumatic impact on your life.
- Receiving an official medical diagnosis for your disorder. A credible medical professional must properly diagnose you with PTSD to increase your chances of receiving compensation.
- Connecting your PTSD diagnosis to your car accident. You need more than an actual diagnosis of PTSD to add credibility to your mental injuries. It must also be proven that your PTSD diagnosis was a direct result of your car accident.
- Establishing the appropriate amount of compensation. Unlike physical injuries, it can be difficult to determine an accurate amount of compensation for PTSD symptoms. Many car accident victims can use tangible expenses like medical expenses to determine the actual amount of compensation for their physical injuries.
At Plattner Verderame, PC, our Phoenix car accident lawyers promise to fight for your needs and your rights. We fight for honest people with honest injuries. Our experienced lawyers are dedicated to thoroughly preparing our clients with the best legal strategies. We only settle when the negotiation is fair and with your permission. Call our personal injury lawyers at 602-266-2002 or complete our contact form today to schedule a free consultation. We represent injured clients in Phoenix and Tempe.
I have been active in leadership in the Arizona Association for Justice (lawyers who represent injured folks, and formerly known as the Arizona Trial Lawyers Association) since 1985. I served as President in 1991. I was an active participant in battles to protect the Arizona Constitution from the insurance industry and big business interests in 1986, 1990 and 1994.
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