The psychological effects of a car accident can be just as devastating as the physical injuries. Depression, anxiety, and adjustment disorders can impact a person’s ability to earn an income, and the cost of psychotherapy, medication, and other treatments can add up quickly.
If you were hurt or witnessed a loved one die in a collision, you may be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. PTSD is a psychiatric diagnosis resulting from the development of characteristic symptoms after exposure to a traumatic stressor—usually a direct personal experience or witnessing an event that involves actual or threatened serious injury or death.
Symptoms of PTSD include:
- Reliving the trauma through flashbacks or nightmares;
- Avoiding people, activities, and places that remind you of the traumatic event;
- Being unable to sleep or concentrate; and
- Experiencing prolonged or intense psychological distress when exposed to cues that remind you of the traumatic event.
If you have been diagnosed with PTSD after a car accident, you may be entitled to compensation for counseling, therapy, and medications; lost income and future loss of income; and emotional distress. Unfortunately, recovering compensation for a psychological injury can be challenging without the help of a skilled personal injury attorney with experience in these cases.
At the Law Office of Michael D. Waks, we have a track record of success in car accident claims involving PTSD and other psychological injuries. We work closely with psychotherapists and other well-credentialed medical experts who can provide testimony regarding the severity of your PTSD and how it is affecting your life and the lives of your loved ones. Call (562) 206-1939 to schedule a free consultation.
Read on to learn the answers to three FAQs about car accident claims involving PTSD:
1. Is It Difficult to Recover Compensation for PTSD After a Car Accident?
Yes, in most circumstances. Insurance companies will not pay a settlement for psychological injuries without being presented with compelling evidence. Because the effects of PTSD are more subjective than physical wounds, your attorney will have to provide strong evidence to prove the existence of your PTSD and establish a reasonable connection between your psychological injury and the trauma you have experienced.
Your lawyer may bring in a psychotherapist and other well-credentialed experts to provide testimony regarding your PTSD and the treatments you will need to reach maximum medical improvement. Other important evidence may include your results on certain psychological tests and testimony from people who knew you before and after the trauma.
Due to the challenges involved in recovering compensation for psychological injuries, it is especially important that PTSD victims choose their car accident attorney wisely. You should find a lawyer who understands the dynamics of psychological distress and knows how to demonstrate the seriousness of a psychological injury to insurance adjusters, judges, and jurors.
2. Can I File a Claim for PTSD If I Wasn’t Physically Injured?
Most successful personal injury claims involve the actual infliction of physical injury, but there are some circumstances under which a victim can pursue compensation for a purely psychological injury. One such scenario is when emotional distress is inflicted intentionally.
To prove a claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress, you must be able to demonstrate that:
- The defendant exhibited outrageous conduct;
- The defendant acted with the intention to cause you emotional distress or acted with reckless disregard of the likelihood that you would experience emotional distress;
- You suffered emotional distress; and
- The conduct of the defendant played a substantial role in causing your distress.
In car accident cases, it is unlikely that a claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress would have merit since the vast majority of collisions are unintentional; however, there’s another circumstance when a victim may be able to file a claim for a purely psychological injury, and that is when a person witnesses a loved one die or suffer a serious injury in a crash caused by another person’s negligence. Other than that, it is unlikely that a plaintiff would be able to recover compensation for a purely psychological injury after a collision.
3. Can a Car Accident Result in Psychological Injuries Other Than PTSD?
Yes. Serious car accidents have been linked to a wide array of mental disorders including anxiety, depression, adjustment disorders, and even psychosis. Victims who already have a personality disorder or mental disorder may find that their symptoms have worsened due to the trauma of a motor-vehicle collision.
Citing pre-existing injuries is one of many strategies insurance adjusters use to dispute claims; however, if you had a pre-existing psychological injury that worsened due to a crash with a negligent driver, you should still be able to pursue compensation for the resulting exacerbation of damages. A seasoned personal injury lawyer will know the types of evidence needed to support your claim.
4. Is It Necessary for Me to Have Characteristic Symptoms of PTSD to Recover Compensation?
Yes, in most circumstances. Although any traumatic event can result in a psychological injury, you will not be able to claim compensation for such an injury unless certain criteria are met. For example, if a psychotherapist diagnoses you with PTSD but you do not display the characteristic symptoms, the insurance company or opposing party will most likely dispute your claim.
This is why it’s important to hire an attorney with experience handling cases involving PTSD. Your lawyer will be able to identify any weaknesses in your claim and take the necessary steps to strengthen your case before settlement negotiations begin.
Schedule a Free Consultation with a Long Beach Car Accident Lawyer
Your Injuries Are Personal to Me
If you’re dealing with the devastating effects of post-traumatic stress disorder after a car accident, turn to the Law Office of Michael D. Waks for representation. Attorney Michael Waks has extensive experience handling cases involving psychological injuries, and he can help you fight for the compensation you will need to move on with life.
From the moment you contact our office to the day your case is resolved, Michael will aggressively represent your interests and make sure you are treated fairly by the insurance adjuster. He will handle all the logistics of your case—from investigating your accident to calculating your damages and negotiating with the insurance company.
To schedule a free initial consultation, call us today at (562) 206-1939. You can also send us a message online through our Contact Page. Our office is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and we can come to you if you cannot come to us.
Download Our Car Accident Emergency .PDF
No matter how cautious you are behind the wheel, you cannot control the actions of other motorists. The vast majority of drivers are involved in at least one crash during their lifetime, so it’s important that you’re always prepared for the worst. One serious collision could be all it takes to threaten your entire family’s financial security.
We developed our Car Accident Emergency .PDF to help crash victims take the necessary steps to protect their interests in the immediate aftermath of a collision. This handy guide outlines all the information you will need to gather at the scene to ensure your claim gets off to a strong start. Click Here to download the .pdf for free, and be sure to keep it in your glovebox.
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