Are You Suffering from PTSD After a Car Accident?

Combat veterans, crime victims, and disaster survivors can experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). But according to psychological studies, the leading cause of PTSD in the U.S. is car accidents.

About 39% of accident survivors experience PTSD. This means that 6 million car accidents in the U.S. could produce over 2 million cases of PTSD annually.

Here are some of the important facts that you should know about the symptoms of PTSD and the ways in which accident survivors can be compensated for PTSD.

What is PTSD?

All people experience an instinctual reaction to a threat — they will fight, flee, or freeze. When the brain encounters a threatening situation, the amygdala can take over. It triggers several physical and cognitive changes to prepare you to overcome the threat.

An intense activation of this reaction, such as a car accident, can overload the brain’s system. It can begin to perceive non-threatening situations as threatening, leading the body to overreact in everyday situations.

For example, the brain may perceive intersections as a threat after your car accident. It may trigger strong reactions to prepare you to deal with the threat. These reactions might form the basis of an incapacitating anxiety attack.

Doctors categorize PTSD as a type of anxiety disorder. PTSD is the collection of behaviors that result from these anxiety attacks.

Symptoms of PTSD

Some of the symptoms of PTSD that you might experience after an accident include:

Avoidance

In an attempt to protect yourself from threats and anxiety attacks, PTSD can cause you to avoid the situations that your brain perceives as threatening.

You might stop using freeways so that you can drive at slower speeds. You might change your route to avoid the scene of your accident. You may even stop driving altogether.

Ruminating Thoughts

Your brain may replay the accident. You may dwell on things you could have done differently to avoid the accident in the first place. PTSD often includes these kinds of ruminating thoughts. 

These thoughts might cause other problems like:

  • Insomnia
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Flashbacks

In severe cases, small things might even repeat the trauma in your mind as if you were at the scene of the accident again.

Negative Thoughts

You might experience depression and hopelessness. These negative thoughts can affect your social life by isolating you from people and activities you enjoyed before the accident.

Changes in Reactions

Constant anxiety might cause you to feel irritated, edgy, angry, or scared. You might react strongly or even aggressively to stress. You might experience panic attacks that cause you to shut down physically or mentally.

What Compensation Can You Recover for PTSD?

Damages in an injury claim fall into two categories: economic and noneconomic. Let’s take a look at each of these categories below.

Economic Damages

Economic damages cover the financial costs of your injuries. When you suffer from PTSD, economic damages cover the expenses of your therapy, counseling, and medication.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are designed to cover changes in your life as a result of your injuries. PTSD might cause inconvenience when you need someone to drive you to appointments. It might cause mental anguish from panic attacks. It may diminish your quality of life because you may be unable to travel to visit your grandchildren.

When you file an injury claim, you will document your damages with medical records, doctor bills, pharmacy bills, and testimony from physicians, therapists, and counselors. Based on this evidence, you can work with your injury lawyer to obtain fair compensation that will cover the economic and non-economic costs of your PTSD.