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Can Car Accident Cause PTSD?


You woke up last night again, sweating after re-living your traumatic car accident in your dreams. You felt the impact, heard the crushing metal, and startled awake from the fear. The National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (“PTSD”) reports that stressful reactions, such as nightmares or flashbacks, are normal after traumatic events—but if certain symptoms last longer than three months, are causing you greater than average distress, and are disrupting your work or home life in a way unrelated to your physical injuries, you may suffer from PTSD. Although we typically associate PTSD with war veterans, any type of traumatic event, including a serious car accident, can trigger it. So what should you look for if you believe you are suffering from atypical mental and emotional symptoms after a car accident, and what are your options for compensation in Pennsylvania?

Signs and Symptoms of PTSD
As stated previously, it is normal to suffer from stress-related symptoms a few weeks or even months after a car accident. The problem, however, can develop when these symptoms linger and you do not improve during the following months. There are generally four types of PTSD symptoms:

Reliving the traumatic event, or re-experiencing symptoms – These include nightmares, flashbacks, or “triggers” that occur when you see, hear, or smell something associated with the traumatic event, and they cause abnormally stressful reactions.
Avoiding situations that remind you of the event – These include avoiding driving or riding in a car or keeping obsessively busy so you don’t have to discuss or talk about the accident.
Negative changes in beliefs or feelings – This includes a change in the way you think about others, including changed feelings about loved ones, avoidance of relationships, forgetting about parts of the event, not being about to talk about the accident, or experiencing symptoms of paranoia, alert for danger, or sudden anger or irritability. You may have a hard time sleeping or concentrating, or loud noises or surprises may abnormally startle you.
If you experience any of these symptoms for a lasting time or the severity is hurting your work and home life, seek immediate medical attention from a specialist. Linking your PTSD symptoms to your car accident with medical records is essential if you wish to seek compensation for your mental anguish.

Diagnosing PTSD
Like a broken leg, you can suffer PTSD as the result of a traumatic car accident. Unlike a broken leg, however, it can be harder to prove that you are suffering from PTSD, as opposed to natural post-traumatic stress associated with the accident. According to the University of Pennsylvania, you don’t have to experience a physical injury to develop PTSD as the result of a serious Pennsylvania car accident. Whether you were the driver, passenger, or witness to a horrible accident, even the absence of an injury can lead to mental scars that a medical professional must explicitly diagnose.

Importantly, PTSD can also occur in children, but studies indicate that young children do not continue to relive the experience as adults do. Instead, they may begin to dream about the car accident—but those dreams often turn into more general nightmares about monsters or danger. Because children may have difficulty expressing their fears and relating the start of those fears to the aftermath of the car accident, parents, teachers, and pediatricians must look for and recognize these unique signs of PTSD in children that they might otherwise attribute to a scary movie.

Compensation for PTSD After a Car Accident in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, mental and emotional losses after a car accident are compensable injuries. This means that your insurance company, the liable driver’s insurance company, or the driver would face responsibility for compensating you for expenses such as your counseling, lost time from work, and mental anguish if you are able to prove that the PTSD is directly linked to the accident.

For example, what if a military combat veteran is involved in a serious car or motorcycle accident and as a result develops PTSD? The defense attorney on the case may try to disprove that the PTSD was caused by the car accident and instead claim that it developed after combat trauma. In this and similar cases where an injured individual has experienced more than one serious trauma throughout a lifetime, documented medical evidence of the trauma, as well as affidavit testimony from witnesses such as family, friends, and co-workers, can link the onset of symptomatic behavior to shortly after the traumatic car accident. You need the help of a Pennsylvania PTSD car accident lawyer who is familiar with these tactics and knows what you will need to provide the court and insurance companies to prove your case.

Contact a Philadelphia Personal Injury and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Lawyer Today
Whether you were a driver, passenger, pedestrian, or witness to a traumatic car accident or wrongful death, PTSD is a real injury. You deserve compensation for injuries both seen and unseen, and you should not feel embarrassed to seek the medical help and related compensation you need for those injuries. Mental injuries can damage your home and work life as much or even more than physical ones, so it is important to contact an attorney who understands the impact such injuries can have on you and your family. The Levin Firm has the experienced Philadelphia PTSD and car accident lawyers you need to help fight for your right to compensation after a traumatic car accident. Whether PTSD is your only injury or one of many, contact The Levin Firm today for a free, no-risk consultation online or at (215) 825-5183.

Philadelphia Personal Injury Blog

About the Author
Gabriel Levin
Posted - 11/29/2017 | Pennsylvania