PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – is a term we hear quite often these days. We commonly associate the term with military veterans returning from war. However, humans can develop PTSD for many, many different reasons.
People involved in car accidents are common victims of PTSD. Combined with all the struggles of recovery, PTSD creates many psychological difficulties.
But what are the signs of this condition?
What can do you if you are suffering from PTSD after a car accident?
In this post, we want to discuss the common PTSD symptoms and the best course of action following a car accident. Let’s get into it.
What is PTSD?
PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that can occur after a distressing event. Victims may experience this event first-hand or witness it. The traumatic event triggers an over-reactive adrenaline response within the victim, which creates deep neurological patterns in the brain. These patterns can persist for a very long time after the event, causing the victim to become hyper-responsive to certain situations.
PTSD has existed throughout human history. The condition gained mainstream attention during the First World War. Back then, the term was called “shell shock”, which occurred in soldiers during artillery bombardments as they were exposed to explosions and death for prolonged amounts of time. Throughout the years, the condition has also been known as “combat fatigue” and “operational exhaustion”.
In 1980, PTSD became a recognized diagnosis in the medical field after seeing many cases in veterans of the Vietnam War.
What Are the Common Causes of PTSD?
While the effects of war prompted much of the research on the condition, PTSD has been shown to occur for a wide range of reasons. Some of the major causes of PTSD include (but are not limited to):
- Car accidents
- Natural disasters
- Sexual assaults
- Physical abuse
- Dangerous work conditions
- Intensive care
- Death of a loved one
PTSD affects roughly 3.5 percent of Americans every year. The condition can have debilitating effects on a victim’s life – and treatment can be extremely taxing (and expensive).
What Are the Symptoms of PTSD After a Car Accident?
Signs of PTSD can occur within days, weeks, or months after a car accident. The symptoms may be different from person to person. Some of the most common ones include (but are not limited to):
- Flashbacks to the event
- Intrusive thoughts
- Involuntary memories
- Irrational fears
- Overwhelming fears of driving or riding in a vehicle
- Aggressive outbursts
- Severe anxiety
- Racing heart
- Struggles to control emotions
These symptoms may appear in the days following the accident. However, for a person to be diagnosed with PTSD, symptoms must last for more than a month and cause substantial distress in daily functioning.
How Long Does it Take to Recover from PTSD?
Recovering from the symptoms of PTSD is a journey that’s different for everyone. Some victims of car accidents may recover within 6 months, while others may develop chronic conditions.
The recovery process is very costly for victims. For one, emotional distress can interrupt daily life and prevent them from performing job duties, maintaining a social life, and many other hardships. Two, recovery can rarely be managed without professional psychological treatment, which is very expensive.
Common treatments for PTSD after a car accident include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy. These treatments may or may not be covered by insurance. Regardless, victims are looking at large overall costs.
Can You Claim for PTSD After a Car Accident?
Yes! You can absolutely include PTSD in a personal injury claim after a car accident. If you have met the guidelines for PTSD via a diagnosis from a therapist, psychologist, or certified mental health provider, you may seek compensation for your injuries.
Even though a lawsuit will not take away the emotional distress or remove the symptoms of PTSD after a car accident, it can help to reduce the financial burden of treatment.
What Damages Can You Seek for PTSD After a Car Accident?
Damages in a personal injury case are separated into two categories: economic and non-economic.
Economic damages would be the tangible costs you incurred from the car accident. This would include (but is not limited to):
- Medical bills
- Future medical treatment
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning potential
Non-economic damages are harder to quantify, as there are no invoices or receipts attached. These damages would include (but are not limited to):
- Pain and suffering (mental and physical)
- Loss of companionship
- Decreased quality of life
For victims facing PTSD after a car accident, the damages of this condition would fall into both categories. On one hand, you’ll likely be going to therapy sessions and undergoing psychological evaluations, which would incur medical bills. On the other, you may be dealing with mental anguish and decreased quality of life.
You’ll need to work with a car accident attorney to place a value on these damages and incorporate it into the claim.
How Are Non-Economic Damages Calculated?
If you are facing PTSD after a car accident, your attorney can calculate these damages in a couple of different ways: the multiplier method or per Diem.
The Multiplier Method
This method takes the severity of the symptoms of PTSD after a car accident and rates it on a scale from 1-5 (5 being the worst). For instance, if PTSD is preventing you from doing your job and the things you love in life, you may rate it as a 4.
Now, let’s say the costs of medical treatment add up to $10,000 and you lost $20,000 in wages. You would take the sum of those numbers (30,000 x 4 = 120,000). From here, you would seek to recover $120,000 in non-economic damages.
The Per Diem method calculates non-economic damages on a per-day basis. For instance, if your attorney believes your pain and suffering is worth $500/day, and the PTSD after a car accident lasted for 400 days, they would seek $200,000 in non-economic damages.
Non-economic damages are a giant gray area in personal injury law. Insurance companies will do everything possible to minimize the payout for damages in your claim. Plain and simple, you need a skilled personal injury attorney to negotiate these figures.
The Next Steps in Earning Justice
Knowing how to deal with PTSD after a car accident is a difficult experience for everyone affected. Moreover, the recovery process is never easy. The good news is you don’t have to face it alone – and it doesn’t have to deplete your bank account.
If you or a loved one is dealing with PTSD after a car accident that was not your fault, the first step is to get in touch with a personal injury lawyer who specializes in car accidents. They will guide you through the process of seeking justice for your damages – so you can focus solely on recovery.
For any questions about car accident injury law, get in touch with the experts at Midwest Injury Lawyers. We’re always happy to answer your questions and guide you in the right direction. Give us a call at 312-786-5881, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or request a consultation online.