As experienced car accident lawyers, we’ve seen the reality of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in the lives of our clients. You may dismiss such claims as imagined or overstated, but dozens of studies sampling survivors of motor vehicle accidents found that as many as 1/3 of people develop PTSD after a car wreck that causes an injury. (link) That’s a HUGE number.

We need to take PTSD seriously because it can develop into a major, life-disrupting problem as time passes. That’s right – PTSD can get WORSE with time instead of better if not treated.

Here’s what you need to know about PTSD after a car wreck and how it can affect your car accident case.

PTSD After a Car Accident: What to Look Out For

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (called the DSM-5) you can develop PTSD if you experience or witness any serious trauma such as a car accident and develop symptoms such as avoidance, changes in your reactions, changes in thinking or mood, or intrusive memories.

Even people without PTSD can have any of those symptoms. The difference is whether those symptoms go away with time or not. If your symptoms get more severe or more frequent with time then you are at risk of developing serious PTSD.

It is vital that you and your loved ones look carefully at the emotional symptoms after a car accident. Getting treatment early may help prevent the PTSD from becoming chronic.

Pain or PTSD?

Family of car accident victims often have a hard time distinguishing between the pain the loved ones are feeling and PTSD symptoms. After all, it all connects  back to the car wreck. It may be difficult for the victim to really examine their emotions, reactions, moods and thinking and recognize changes. Is it pain making it difficult to sleep, or is it the intrusive thoughts repeating on a loop? Is it pain causing the bad mood, or is the bad mood living a life of its own?

Getting therapy can help the survivor start to sort out what is going on in their head and heart. The cost of that treatment is something that should be covered by the at-fault party in the accident.

What are the symptoms of PTSD after a car accident?

  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Being easily startled
  • Anger, both related and unrelated to the crash
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Increased isolation
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Reliving the accident/flashbacks
  • Intrusive thoughts

Getting treatment for PTSD after a car wreck

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Research shows that cognitive behavioral therapy is extremely effective in defeating PTSD after a motor vehicle accident. While only 33% of people with PTSD manage to heal on their own, 88% of patients using cognitive behavioral therapy make a complete recovery.

Supportive Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy (or “talk therapy”) can help treat PTSD or other mental illnesses, and can be a huge help in your life overall. In general finding a therapist who can use cognitive behavioral therapy is more effective than psychotherapy alone. Speak with your medical and mental health professionals to find the treatment that works best for you.

How Does PTSD Affect Your Claim After A Car Accident?

Emotional Injuries Like PTSD Count as Damages

Our legal system may not be perfect but it does recognize the reality of emotional damages. PTSD can interfere with your life in a real and substantial way. We bring in the professionals who can testify in front of a judge and jury as to the reality of your suffering and the financial impact it has on you or may have on you going forward.

You Can’t Get PTSD Compensation Without Physical Injuries (Usually)

In New Mexico, you can not really ask for “non-economic” damages like PTSD or other emotional trauma after a car accident unless there are also “economic” damages or “special” damages. In other words, if you go in front of a judge and say “I wasn’t hurt physically, but I have mental anguish” they are not likely to believe you. Talk with us about your situation and we’ll let you know if you have a case or not.

You Can Get Compensation For Lost Work Due To PTSD

If you are physically able to work but emotionally can’t manage to work, that’s something for which you can get compensation. Don’t feel bad that the trauma of an accident prevents you from working. This is part of the reality of car accidents, and you can recover. We can make sure the at-fault party pays their fair share.

Roadrunner Law Firm is Ready To Help!

We’ve helped many people in New Mexico fight for their rights to fair compensation. We want to help you too. If you’ve been hurt in a car accident, call us today.