Protecting your physical, mental, and emotional health is a large part of maintaining a positive quality of life. Getting into a car accident can put all of this at risk. Studies show that the presence of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) at least 30 days after an auto accident is about 25-33%.
Can you claim PTSD after a car accident? We have answers to those questions and others below. But first, we will explain what PTSD is.
What Is PTSD?
First, learn exactly what Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is. It’s a condition that puts you in states of fear and panic following a traumatic event.
For some people, it’s as though they are reliving the original trauma. Others experience a perpetual sense of distress. A person suffering from PTSD can be triggered suddenly by certain stimuli, such as a loud noise.
This condition affects people in different ways and degrees and can have a significant impact on a person’s life and relationships.
What Are the Symptoms of PTSD?
You need to know the symptoms of PTSD if you’re going to manage your care after an accident and recover damages. Get to know the most common symptoms so that you can find professional help.
Here are some of the most common symptoms people experience:
Developing an Avoidant Personality
The feelings of danger and fear following PTSD make many people develop an avoidant personality. This is particularly noteworthy if you are normally social, outgoing, or gregarious.
Public places can be places of anxiety and terror, even in normal circumstances. Be mindful of your inclinations and whether or not you’re becoming more withdrawn due to the symptoms.
It can hinder your friendships, family relationships, and even professional life. Some people become avoidant of crowds for several years following the traumatic event.
Exhibiting Self-Destructive Behavior
Many people even become self-destructive following a PTSD event. This can mean drug use, excessive drinking, and substance abuse.
You might start engaging in risky behavior that you otherwise wouldn’t have engaged in. This can multiply your damages, since you may have to invest in rehabilitation, outpatient services, and other treatments.
Flashbacks and Bad Memories
People often go through flashbacks and bad memories of reliving the car accident once they have PTSD symptoms. The flashbacks may happen randomly or environmental triggers can cause them.
If you have triggers that bring out the flashbacks, you’ll need to monitor them and learn effective ways to manage them. It might even take some time for you to get used to driving again without experiencing these feelings.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is often part of people’s recovery to help them deal with these issues.
Nightmares and Night Terrors
It might become difficult to get a good night’s sleep after you’ve started experiencing PTSD. People often start having recurring nightmares reliving the car wreck, or experiencing nightmares or night terrors, in general.
This can cause people to lose sleep, which also affects their mood and energy levels every day.
Anxiety and a Sense of Dread
PTSD is often marked by an overwhelming sense of anxiety. This feeling can happen in social situations or even when you’re in a room by yourself.
Chronic anxiety can come with many physical and mental symptoms, including the following:
- A rapid heartbeat
- Sweaty palms or heavy body sweats
- A racing mind
- An impending sense of dread or doom
- Shaky limbs and twitching
Knowing the symptoms of PTSD will help you get treatment so that you can take the next practical legal steps.
Can You Claim Damages for PTSD?
Damages from PTSD can be claimed in a car accident.
These damages are often categorized as pain and suffering. The emotional distress and mental toll can affect your quality of life beyond repair for a long stretch of time.
You might claim damages to recover the cost of your psychiatric care, mental health therapy, or other treatments. You’ll need to document your professional diagnosis and monitor the symptoms in your daily life.
Some specific damages that plaintiffs claim in car accident cases include:
- Loss of income if your mental and emotional state causes you to lose time from work.
- The cost of therapy, anti-depressants, and other medication.
- The cost of childcare if someone has to watch your children while you’re recovering from trauma.
Your attorney will gauge the severity of your condition to assess how much you can claim in pain and suffering.
What Affects Your Settlement Value?
You can claim PTSD damages, but multiple factors affect the value of your case. Some of these factors include:
- The prognosis and diagnosis of your issues
- The role that you played in the accident
- Whether your employment has been affected
- How you function on a day-to-day basis
- The relationship you have with loved ones and family members
This might also require the help of an expert witness that can substantiate your mental and emotional state. The expert witness can provide documentation and also help during the deposition and trial.
They’ll provide scientific and medical proof and opinion that the car accident was a traumatic event that triggered these symptoms, while also giving you several evaluations to prove that the symptoms exist.
What Is the Statute of Limitations?
Bear in mind that time is limited when you’re pursuing damages for PTSD. Every state maintains a statute of limitations for these personal injuries.
You have 2 years to file your case to claim PTSD damages within the statute of limitations.
How Can You Prepare the Best Case?
Having the help of a skilled personal injury attorney can help you claim these damages and recover compensation. Work with a personal injury attorney that understands pain and suffering damages, while also understanding the ongoing care that you’ll need.
Consult with an attorney and gauge their ability to substantiate your claim and negotiate out-of-court settlements. Find out how long they’ve practiced law, and make sure that the attorney is licensed by the State Bar Association of California.
Addressing PTSD After a Car Accident
The tips above will help you address PTSD after a car accident. You give yourself the best chance of recouping damages when you first, understand PTSD, and then find the help of a team of attorneys.
Now that you know that PTSD damages can be claimed as part of your auto accident case, make sure to take the next steps.
Katella Injury Attorneys is happy to lend you the best legal expertise in Anaheim, Orange County, and the surrounding Southern California areas. Use our contact form to reach out for a free consultation, or call us at (714)860-7797.