While motor vehicle accidents often lead to physical injuries, psychological impacts can be equally harmful. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, almost 13 thousand serious motor vehicle accidents occurred in 2019. A striking percentage of these serious motor vehicle accidents — between 25 to 33% — leave car accident survivors suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and many use an expert car accident lawyer to get justice and compensation.
What Is PTSD?
PTSD is a standalone psychological disorder consisting of bouts of intermittent or persistent anxiety, depression, and panic attacks that often follow a traumatic event that threatens one’s safety, life, or integrity.
PTSD symptoms include:
- Re-experiencing the trauma: intrusive thoughts about the accident or nightmares.
- Avoiding thoughts of situations related to the accident: this can include the car accident survivor’s refusal to get behind the wheel of a car out of fear.
- Decreased emotional responsiveness or changes in emotional reactions to oneself and others: it can include emotional absence and feeling detached.
- Increased physical disturbances, such as irritability and unhealthy sleep patterns.
- Continually thinking about the accident, compounded by feelings of guilt: guilt is a common feeling even if the car accident survivor is not at fault.
After a car accident, PTSD happens due to two factors. First, a person may feel traumatized. A vehicle accident causes some degree of physical jolting to car occupants, potentially causing concussions, momentary loss of cognitive awareness, whiplash, or other major injuries.
Second, the thoughts and feelings experienced during and immediately after an accident can cause psychological damage. Fear that you or car passengers, such as children, may die or suffer from injuries is a common example.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reported that nearly 70% of people involved in serious car accidents suffer from chronic pain. Symptoms often exacerbate the stress of PTSD, causing a car accident survivor to feel isolated, which results in them reliving the accident even more.
Chronic pain associated with worsening PTSD can lead to:
- The inability to work or enjoy activities
- The need to have often expensive medical treatment and take pain medications
- Changes in routine in providing care for children or pets.
Coping with PTSD after a Car Accident
Other injuries often accompany PTSD. You can get compensation for your injuries if you file a claim with the help of a car accident injury lawyer and reach a settlement or if a court issues an award for damages against the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier.
People with PTSD must develop healthy coping mechanisms to address the disorder. They often face debilitating symptoms that affect their mental health, physical wellbeing, and lifestyle. Survivors are susceptible to poor coping habits due to the isolation and decreased sense of worth often brought on by PTSD.
According to the NIH, men with PTSD are five times more likely than the general male population to develop a substance abuse disorder, while women are one and a half times more likely to do the same. People living with PTSD are also six times more likely to attempt suicide than the general population.
Developing healthy ways of dealing with PTSD symptoms can prevent the onset of an array of other health disorders, such as anxiety, depression, or substance abuse.
What Are the Best Ways to Cope with PTSD?
Socializing is an excellent start to coping with PTSD. Since it frequently leads to feelings of isolation, openly discussing your PTSD with family, close friends, and others you trust can reduce, or even eliminate, feelings of loneliness. It may be daunting to discuss your PTSD symptoms, but expressing this vulnerability can have immense benefits. Friends and family members could assist you by helping reduce triggers that cause PTSD symptoms to heighten. They might also help you address PTSD symptoms should they arise, and they can plan events and activities to keep you occupied.
Another excellent method for coping with PTSD resulting from a car accident is to take part in a local support group. Support groups discuss shared difficulties and struggles. This unique coping method allows you to feel understood and relatable due to the bonds developed with people who survived similar situations. If you don’t feel comfortable meeting with people face-to-face, there are virtual options you can use. Seeking the support of others in a professional setting is a significant step to healing.
Another form of coping is self-care. It can be any activity you deliberately engage in to give undivided attention to your emotional, mental, and physical wellbeing. You can and should tailor self-care activities to your needs.
Examples of self-care include:
- Mindfulness training, such as meditation or yoga.
- Any form of exercise, including cardio or weight training: exercise helps regulate mood and emotions due to a release of dopamine and serotonin in your brain. If you’re experiencing physical symptoms resulting from your car accident, consult a physician before doing any exercise.
- Keeping a journal: this may be challenging but re-approaching an accident that brought on your PTSD can help you reconnect with people or places you might otherwise want to avoid.
- Picking up a craft or hobby.
A licensed therapist or psychologist can help you develop individualized methods for coping with PTSD. Professional help is similar to taking part in a small group setting, except you work with a therapist or psychologist one-on-one in a safe and peaceful space.
Working with a dedicated therapist or psychologist is better than switching healthcare providers. Doing so will allow you to develop a relationship founded on trust, so you can speak openly and get the maximum benefit from your sessions.
Therapy can be expensive, but an experienced car accident lawyer can help you recoup the money you spent and help you pay for any ongoing treatment you may need after a negligent driver hurt you.
PTSD from a Car Accident: What to Do
PTSD is just one of many components you can seek compensation for after a driver injures you in a car accident. If you have PTSD due to a serious motor vehicle accident, the following steps can help you and your car accident injury lawyer successfully resolve your case.
Get Medical Help
Seek proper medical and psychiatric assistance to jumpstart your recovery from the car accident. Begin PTSD treatment and get a diagnosis of conditions you developed. They can include physical, psychological, and emotional injuries.
A professional diagnosis will support your PTSD claim when your car accident lawyer files a lawsuit because it will substantiate how the negligent driver directly contributed to or caused the PTSD that affects your daily life.
You can help by documenting the following symptoms and presenting them to the car accident injury lawyer handling your PTSD case:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Loss of time at work due to increased medical and psychological issues
- Personality changes
- Physical manifestations of PTSD, such as tense muscles, digestive upset, and fatigue
- Trouble doing ordinary tasks.
Seek an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer
A knowledgeable car accident injury lawyer can provide you with legal solutions and justice after your accident. They will be experienced in cases involving PTSD and can help you seek the compensation you deserve for your psychological and physical conditions. You need a car accident lawyer who knows how to initiate and argue a claim involving psychological damages and can assist with concerns you might have throughout the legal process.
An experienced car accident attorney can also fight to get compensation for losses resulting from property and other financial damages and non-economic burdens you might face related to the accident.
Collect Necessary Documentation
An experienced car accident lawyer can help gather relevant documentation to strengthen your case when assessing your claim.
Try to keep:
- Medical records
- Photos of the accident scene and injuries you received
- Logs of any mileage and time traveled for medical treatments
- Logs of time missed from work
- Receipts related to expenses resulting from the accident and onset of PTSD, such as:
- Medical and psychiatric bills, prescription pills, and transportation to and from medical or psychiatric appointments
- Childcare or household care costs resulting from your inability to take on such tasks you previously could.
You can get compensation for the costs associated with each of the financial losses listed above. Keep all documentation and records relating to the accident and give them to your car accident injury lawyer. These logs are essential in calculating the total compensation you deserve.
How PTSD Might Affect Your Car Accident Settlement Amount
Accident victims often pursue car accident claims under negligence laws, which hold people to a reasonable standard of care when engaging in certain activities, such as operating a motor vehicle. Negligence claims need to prove that the at-fault driver caused the accident that led to your injuries, including PTSD.
You may also recover non-economic damages. In a car accident, non-economic damages compensate a plaintiff for non-monetary damages and injuries, including:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Emotional or mental pain or anguish
- Loss of enjoyment.
You may recover economic damages for any monetary loss you suffered because of your PTSD, including loss of future earnings. Sometimes, you can also recover exemplary damages, which penalize a defendant’s gross negligence or willful recklessness if established.
When Should I Contact a Car Accident Injury Lawyer for PTSD?
Contact a car accident lawyer as soon as possible after a car crash. If you don’t bring your claim within the statute of limitations — the length of which varies from state to state, and in Texas, is two years from the date of the accident — you cannot sue the driver who caused the accident. An experienced car accident injury lawyer can help you navigate these complex legal processes before the deadline expires.
When you have PTSD from a car accident, you never want to settle without understanding the severity of the damages the driver caused you. You must present the full picture of how the driver’s actions affected you and caused your PTSD.
Contact the expert car accident injury lawyers at Patino Law Firm to discuss your case and take the next steps to receive the compensation you deserve.
Patino Law Firm
1802 N 10th St
McAllen, TX 78501