Most of us know how physically devastating the injuries from a motor vehicle accident can be, but the mental toll of a crash is often underestimated. This is unfair to those who develop mental health conditions after a crash, as they may be dealing with these concerns long after their physical injuries have fully healed. And when it comes to mental health disorders after a collision, post-traumatic stress disorder is one of the most common and harmful injuries people suffer from.
The New York car accident attorneys at Finz & Finz, P.C., have seen countless people’s lives harmed by post-traumatic stress disorder, and we want to help you find the money and treatment you need after a crash. Below you will find more information on what post-traumatic stress disorder is, how it can affect you after a crash, and how you may be able to recover compensation for your injuries. If you are interested in speaking with one of our New York car accident lawyers, contact our office today for a free consultation.
What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?
According to the American Psychiatric Association, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition in which people who have been exposed to a traumatic event experience heightened anxiety and other related symptoms. Common causes of PTSD include major accidents, being involved in war or a terrorist attack, physical assaults, and sexual violence.
The American Psychiatric Association says you do not have to be directly exposed to a traumatic event to develop PTSD. Indirect exposure can still be enough to cause people to experience PTSD symptoms, such as police officers who are often exposed to violent, traumatic incidents. If you develop PTSD after being involved in a car accident, that would be an example of direct exposure to a traumatic event.
PTSD is much more common than people think. Information from the American Psychiatric Association indicates PTSD affects about 3.5 of all adults nationwide every year and that roughly 1 in every 11 people will be diagnosed with PTSD at some point in their lives.
What Are the Symptoms of PTSD?
According to information from the Mayo Clinic, some of the common symptoms of PTSD include:
- Angry or aggressive outbursts
- Avoiding people, places, or activities that may remind you of the traumatic event
- Avoiding thinking about or talking about the traumatic event
- Being easily frightened after the traumatic event
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feeling isolated from friends and family
- Feeling like you are always looking out for danger
- Feeling numb or disconnected from the world
- Flashbacks that make it seem like you are reliving the traumatic event
- Having trouble maintaining close relationships
- Insomnia or other difficulties with sleep
- Intense feelings of guilt or shame
- Intense negative feelings about yourself, the world, or other people
- Intense physical or emotional reactions to things that may remind of the traumatic event
- Lack of interest in things you used to enjoy
- Memory issues in general or being unable to remember key details about the traumatic event
- Nightmares about the traumatic event
- Recurring memories of the traumatic event
- Suicidal thoughts
- Trouble feeling positive emotions
How Common Is PTSD After a Car Crash?
Hard numbers on the frequency of PTSD after car crashes can be difficult to find, but one study published in the British Columbia Medical Journal found that about 10 percent of people who were physically injured in a car accident later developed PTSD. Assuming this figure is accurate, that means there are thousands of new, crash-related PTSD cases every year across the country. Many people with PTSD struggle with feelings of guilt or shame, and it is important to remember that you are not alone if you are having a hard time after a traumatic event.
Treatment for PTSD After a Motor-Vehicle Accident
Treating a mental health condition like PTSD is different from treating a physical injury because there is nothing a doctor can “fix” directly. You will need to learn new skills and coping strategies to manage your symptoms in the short term while gradually working through your trauma with a mental health professional. Common treatments for PTSD include:
- Cognitive therapy (learning to recognize negative thoughts and feelings so you can change how you react to them)
- Exposure therapy (slowly exposing you to things that remind you of the traumatic event so you can better process what happened)
- Antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications
- Attending support groups
- Establishing good self-care routines
- Talking to support family members or friends
Compensation for PTSD After an Accident
Recovering compensation for PTSD after a car crash can be a challenge in some cases, especially if you did not suffer any physical injuries. That said, you are allowed to pursue compensation for emotional distress after a car accident, and a New York car accident lawyer can help you recover the money you need for counseling and other treatments you may need.
When to Talk to a Doctor About PTSD
If you are experiencing PTSD symptoms after a car accident, you should talk to a doctor or mental health professional as soon as possible. While these feelings can be difficult to cope with, and you may not want to talk about what happened, avoiding the issue will not make it go away. There are many more resources and treatment options available for those with PTSD than there used to be, and over time you can learn to cope with and work through your trauma.
How a Lawyer Can Help if You Have PTSD After an Accident
The team at Finz & Finz, P.C., wants to help if you have developed PTSD after a car crash, and some of the ways we can help are:
- Helping you find a mental health professional to treat your illness
- Investigating the accident to determine who was at fault
- Documenting how PTSD has affected your life
- Negotiating with the insurance companies to reach a fair settlement
- Taking your case to court if a reasonable settlement cannot be reached