PTSD is a complex condition triggered by a traumatic event causing life-altering symptoms. If you’re suffering PTSD after a car accident, contact the car accident lawyers at Wilshire Law firm. We’ll demand payment for medical bills, professional therapy costs, lost wages, and other damages. We’ve recovered over $1 billion for clients. Call us 24/7 at (800) 501-3011.

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Defining PTSD

An event that triggers Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is the experience of or witness to a traumatic event. PTSD can cause people to feel disconnected from reality, experience fear and anxiety, and have difficulty functioning in everyday activities. Symptoms typically do not emerge until at least one month after the trauma.

“Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) occurs after exposure to actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence. It is characterized by recurrent, involuntary, and intrusive distressing memories of the traumatic event and dissociative reactions.”

 – National Library of Medicine [1]

According to the American Psychological Association, car accidents are known to contribute to PTSD and are the “number one trauma for men and the second most frequent trauma for women.” [2] For many, the psychological impact is frightening, and PTSD can cause behavioral issues that are often difficult to cast off. A professional therapist’s assistance is regularly needed.

How Car Accident PTSD Affects an Injury Claim

PTSD is one of the different forms of pain and suffering. This category comprises the physical, emotional, and psychological pain a person can experience after a car accident. To be considered a PTSD patient, a medical professional must diagnose you. 

A rule of thumb for a PTSD diagnosis – each of the following must exist for at least one month: [3]

  • Minimum one re-experiencing -symptom
  • Minimum one avoidance symptom
  • Minimum two arousal and reactivity symptoms
  • Minimum two cognition and mood symptoms

Backing up the diagnosis with the opinion of medical experts will further document this psychological injury.

Upon filing the claim, our car accident attorneys will use the diagnosis to demand compensation from those responsible. Collected damages are aimed at covering therapy costs, loss of work due to this disorder, pain and suffering damages, and more.

Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

The most common symptoms of PTSD fall into several categories and include the following [4]

Re-experiencing the Trauma

Re-experiencing is one of the most problematic groups of symptoms. Images of the traumatic event can resurface after hearing a loud noise mimicking a gunshot or watching a newscast discussing an accident. The symptoms include: 

  • Re-experiencing unwanted memories of the traumatic event
  • Nightmares or flashbacks where the person relives the event as if it were happening
  • Dreaming about the traumatic incident

Avoidance Symptoms

These symptoms result when the person wants to avoid a repeat of the trauma. An example of this occurs when a person avoids driving or traveling in a motor vehicle or revisiting the same area after a car accident. Some common symptoms are:

  • Avoidance symptoms such as staying away from thoughts, emotions, or situations related to the trauma
  • Detachment from family or friends
  • Feeling psychologically numb
  • Arousal and reactivity symptoms, which include feeling jittery and having trouble sleeping 

Negative or Destructive Thoughts

The emotional impact of PTSD includes:

  • Cognition and mood symptoms, such as negative thoughts about oneself or the world
  • A sense of hopelessness
  • Failing to remember significant details of the accident
  • Significant distress that interferes with daily life activities
  • Reacting to triggers or reminders of the traumatic event, causing the victim to become overwhelmed with fear or panic

Changes in Cognition

Cognition issues lasting more than 30 days or interfering with daily life might be post-traumatic stress disorder. Symptoms include:

  • A sense of foreboding
  • Continually watching out for danger
  • Drinking, speeding, or other self-destructive behaviors
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Anger and aggression
  • Guilt

Delayed PTSD Symptoms and Car Accident Lawsuits

Symptoms do not start immediately, so many victims may fail to associate them with the car accident. If PTSD starts 30 days after the incident or even months later, it might not get categorized as recoverable damages. For this and other reasons, your car accident lawyer might recommend waiting until you can see the whole picture with your physician, verifying you have reached maximal treatment results.

Do Not Settle Your Case with Low-Ball Offers

Quickly settling a case can look attractive, mainly when you cannot work due to injuries from the accident. The catch here is if you settle, you must sign a waiver giving the insurer a shield from future claims for the same incident.  

If you develop PTSD and need treatment after receiving a settlement, you must pay yourself. Insurance companies are in business to make money by offering you the lowest possible settlement amount. Once you sign the waiver, it is too late to come back and request more money. Our car accident lawyers will fight to get you the highest possible settlement to make you and your loved ones whole again in the eyes of the law. Contact us 24/7 to schedule a no-cost review of your important injury claim details. 

Why Do Some People Develop PTSD?

Not everyone develops PTSD. Most people in an accident do not; however, there must be some adjustment for those who never pursue a diagnosis.

Some common factors that might link to the development of PTSD after a traumatic event are:

  • A serious injury
  • Witnessing another person’s pain or observing a dead body
  • Survivors of childhood trauma
  • Being exposed to dangerous events and traumas
  • In the aftermath of an event, having little support from friends and family
  • Being mentally ill or addicted to drugs or alcohol
  • Stress caused by losses related to losing loved ones, injuries, or job or home loss

Can Children Experience PTSD?

Children do experience PTSD. However, the symptoms are different from those for adults. While adolescents usually display similar symptoms as adults, younger children often experience the following: [5]

  • An unusual degree of clinginess towards a parent or other adult
  • Lack of speaking skills or forgetting how to speak
  • During playtime, acting out the scary event
  • Bedwetting after learning to use the toilet

PTSD Statistics

The incidence of post-traumatic stress disorder is said to exist in roughly 6 percent of the general population.[6] The number of women with PTSD is approximately 2 percent higher than men. Although the numbers might be low compared to other risk factors for traumatic events, 12 million people display symptoms of PTSD every year.

Other factors beyond personal involvement in a traumatic event can result in PTSD. For example, the PTSD patient might have witnessed an accident or know a traumatized family member or friend. In these cases, the symptoms of PTSD are as real as if the individuals were directly involved.

Treatment for PTSD

For most people with PTSD, treatment consists of medication and talk therapy.[7] Since the cause of PTSD varies, and so does the patient, the treatment modality must be consistent with the person’s needs.

A trained psychotherapist or another provider needs to take charge of treatment and have experience working with PTSD. The most common type of medication therapy involves antidepressants. Sometimes, doctors prescribe other medications to help with insomnia, a common disorder with PTSD.

Psychotherapy can be helpful and usually gets broken up into individual sessions that may include a patient-therapist one-on-one meeting or attending group therapy. In both instances, treatment requires a minimum of three to four months.[8] This therapy helps the patient by addressing the symptoms and delving into social and family problems associated with the disorder.

Cognitive behavioral therapy helps the patient assess the problem, learn the triggers, and find ways to deal with symptoms. Exposure and cognitive restructuring therapy are both common tactics. Since there are different ways to deal with PTSD, it is best to speak with a qualified professional to see what would be appropriate for you.

Free Case Review with a Law Firm for PTSD After Car Accidents

Wilshire Law Firm has helped numerous clients with the negligent infliction of emotional distress, including PTSD. Contact us for a free, no-obligation case review by calling (800) 501-3011 or contacting us online. Have Wilshire Law Firm on your side from day one. Our legal team will explain your case using plain language and answer any questions you may have. In addition, we will keep you informed until your case gets resolved.

We work with clients on a helpful contingency basis. That means you pay no fees unless you win.

Frequently Asked Questions About Car Accident PTSD

Does PTSD occur immediately after a car accident?

No, it is not common for PTSD to occur immediately after a car accident. While some people may develop symptoms of PTSD shortly after a traumatic experience, it typically takes weeks or months for the full effect of symptoms to appear as the individual works through their emotions related to the trauma. Symptoms of PTSD can vary in intensity over time and can occur even years later in response to triggers connected to the trauma.

Can I include PTSD in my lawsuit against the at-fault party in a car accident?

Yes, you can include PTSD as part of a claim in a car accident lawsuit. You must provide medical evidence that the car accident caused the psychological injury. You will also likely have to show that the at-fault party acted negligently or recklessly and that their actions were directly responsible for your PTSD symptoms. Consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer at Wilshire Law Firm who can help protect your legal rights and work to secure compensation for your emotional distress.

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