Can a Serious Car Accident Cause PTSD?

After a serious car accident, some victims can suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The symptoms of PTSD can be debilitating but may take weeks or months to appear. As a result, it can be challenging to recover compensation. A Charleston, WV car accident attorney can help you fight for a fair recovery following your collision.

What is PTSD? 

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health disorder that develops in response to a frightening or dangerous experience that involves actual or threatened serious harm to oneself or others. Therefore, you can still suffer PTSD even if you witnessed a serious car accident and were not injured yourself. Symptoms of PTSD will usually surface within three months of the crash and commonly include: 

  • Vivid flashbacks (feeling like the trauma is happening right now)
  • Intrusive thoughts or images
  • Nightmares
  • Intense distress at real or symbolic reminders of the accident
  • Physical sensations such as pain, sweating, nausea, or trembling
  • Extreme alertness or “hypervigilance”
  • Disturbed sleep or a lack of sleep
  • Irritability or aggressive behavior
  • Difficulty concentrating 
  • Being jumpy or easily startled
  • Other symptoms of anxiety
  • Avoiding places, things, or events that remind you of the accident
  • Having to keep busy
  • Unable to remember details of what happened
  • Feeling emotionally numb or cut off from feelings
  • Feeling physically numb or detached from body
  • Unable to express affection
  • Self-destructive or reckless behavior
  • Using alcohol or drugs to avoid memories
  • Fears of dying
  • Overwhelming feelings of sadness, guilt, or shame

When symptoms of PTSD last for at least a month, a medical evaluation can diagnose it. After that, treatment commonly includes counseling, psychotherapy, and medications to treat symptoms. 

Can I Recover Damages For PTSD After a Serious Accident?

You are entitled to recover damages for PTSD related to a serious accident if another party’s negligence was responsible for causing the collision. Damages is a legal term that refers to the compensation a car accident victim can receive for their financial and personal losses. The amount of compensation you can recover for PTSD will depend on the extent of your other physical injuries, your financial losses (e.g., medical bills, therapy bills, lost income, etc.), change in quality of life, the strength of evidence against the at-fault party, and other factors. In general, the greater your financial losses and the impact PTSD has on your daily life, the more compensation you are entitled to recover. 

Types of Compensation Available for PTSD

In 2022 there were nearly 43,000 fatal car accidents nationwide. Survivors of accidents where a life was lost will need to successfully prove PTSD related to a car accident but can often obtain the following types of compensation:

Medical Bills

You are entitled to reimbursement for any current and future medical expenses related to treating your PTSD, such as counseling bills, prescription medication costs, etc.

Lost Income

If you have been unable to work, you can recover compensation for your current and future lost wages. 

Pain and Suffering

Your settlement or award will typically include additional compensation based on the severity of your suffering from PTSD. Often, medical expert testimony is required to prove the extent of your PTSD and how it impacts your quality of life. Your car, truck or motorcycle accident attorney in Charleston, WV can help assemble the medical experts necessary to perform a proper diagnosis.