ptsd from car accidentIt is stressful to get involved in a motor vehicle accident, especially if injury or death results because of it. Did you know that whether a car accident is minor or not, car accidents can cause post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)? Read on to know more about it.

How Does a Car Accident Affect You Mentally?

It is common for people to suffer physical injuries after a vehicular accident. But aside from bodily injuries, car accident survivors may also experience sleepless nights, depression, fear, or anxiety days after such a stressful event. These symptoms should not be ignored because they could be a sign of a mental health issue, like post-traumatic stress disorder.

What Is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a mental health disorder that a person may suffer after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. A serious car collision is one example of a stressful incident that can cause this psychiatric disorder.

Following a vehicle crash, a person with PTSD may experience emotional distress and other symptoms like having thoughts and dreams about the accident or avoidance of thoughts or situations related to the accident. Many individuals also experience irritability, inability to sleep, and other emotional symptoms.

Common Symptoms of PTSD From a Car Accident

How would you know if a person is showing signs of PTSD?

Shortly after a car crash, PTSD symptoms may already develop, although, for some individuals, the symptoms appear only after a few months or even years following the serious traumatic event.

If you or your loved one experienced a car collision, watch out for the following common PTSD symptoms:

  • Avoidant behavior: People with PTSD may avoid discussing the accident or anything that would remind them of the traumatic event. Some do not want to ride or drive any vehicle at all, while others may try to avoid the route to where the accident occurred. Not immediately addressed, avoidance may lead to extreme anxiety, social phobia, and panic.
  • Extreme changes in mood: Mood swings may also be a sign of PTSD, especially if they are associated with negativity. Whether or not the change in the mood is related to the accident, the dramatic shift in feelings and attitude signifies that the person is suffering from PTSD.
  • Intrusive memories: Those with PTSD usually experience flashbacks and nightmares about the accident, which cause severe anxiety to those with the condition.
  • Intrusive thoughts and feelings: It is normal for people to have unexpected thoughts and images that suddenly pop into their heads. But for those with PTSD, these intrusive thoughts and feelings remain in their minds and can become so severe and difficult to stop. Because of these, they become easily angry or have feelings of helplessness and discomfort.
  • Increased isolation: People who suffer from PTSD tend to separate themselves from others. They often completely seek refuge in themselves and avoid taking part in normal activities.
  • Behavior changes: PTSD is related to hyperarousal. This is characterized by persistent symptoms like irritability, anger, and paranoia. Other examples of hyperarousal include pervasive jitters, inability to sleep, and difficulty concentrating or focusing on one thing.
  • Suicidal thoughts: After experiencing a car accident, people with PTSD may think of ending their lives.

What Triggers PTSD Symptoms After a Car Accident?

Many things can trigger PTSD after a car crash. These triggers are oftentimes related to sights, sounds, and smells that remind the victims of the accident. For instance, actions related to driving can elicit flashbacks and cause traumatic memories to play in the minds of those with PTSD. Other examples of common triggers that can turn into PTSD are the following:

  • Hearing sirens of ambulance or fire truck
  • The mere sight of the area of the accident
  • The smell of gasoline or smoke
  • Picking up car keys or doing acts related to driving
  • Witnessing another highly traumatic event
  • Seeing first responders, whether they are responding to a natural disaster

Statistics: Car Accidents Are One of the Leading Causes of PTSD in the United States

About 3.5 percent of adults in the US are affected by PTSD every year, according to the American Psychiatric Association. Women are two times more likely to suffer from PTSD compared to men.

The American Psychological Association named motor vehicle accidents the leading cause of PTSD in the general population. In fact, it is the leading cause of trauma for men, while PTSD is reported to be the second leading cause of trauma for women.

Other possible causes of PTSD, according to Mayoclinic are the following:

  • Physical assault
  • Physical abuse during childhood
  • Sexual violence
  • Exposure to military combat
  • Other traumatic events and accidents

How Long Does PTSD Last?

ptsd after a vehicle accidentPost traumatic stress disorder may last within a few weeks or months. Some may even last for years and can take an emotional toll on the person with PTSD. It is crucial to have a person evaluated and checked by a medical professional if that person is suspected to suffer from PTSD.

How Do You Recover Emotionally From a Car Accident?

Make sure to seek the help of a medical professional after you are involved in a car accident. Oftentimes, only the physical wounds are treated but the emotional wounds are not addressed.

The recovery process of emotional healing is usually longer especially if the person involved in the car accident is diagnosed to have chronic PTSD. If not properly addressed, people with PTSD may seek coping mechanisms like substance abuse or resort to violence.

What to Do When Experiencing PTSD Symptoms After a Car Accident?

Symptoms of PTSD vary. Therefore, it is difficult for an ordinary person to know whether a person suffers from it. The best course of action for those who experience symptoms of this mental issue is to seek the help of a mental health professional, as emotional symptoms usually require professional intervention.

Treatment of PTSD

Recovering from PTSD is possible. The course of action will be determined after a psychological exam by a medical professional. Some examples of PTSD treatment include the following:

  • Cognitive therapy
  • Exposure therapy
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing
  • Cognitive processing therapy
  • Prolonged exposure therapy
  • Medication

It is important for a person suffering PTSD to have early intervention and supportive therapy to treat the disorder.

Can You Recover Compensation for Ptsd From a Car Accident?

It is not anyone’s fault to have PTSD after a car accident. In fact, many car accident victims who were diagnosed with PTSD after the vehicular collision were able to get legal compensation.

Medical bills, written diagnoses, and expert testimonies are required when a person wants to seek compensation for PTSD. Among the requirements include a testimony of a medical professional stating that:

  • You have PTSD.
  • The psychiatric disorder is connected with the vehicular accident.
  • The car accident PTSD causes a negative impact on your life.

How an Experienced Car Accident Attorney Can Help You Seek Compensation for Your Injuries

If you or a loved one have symptoms of PTSD after a car accident, get medical help immediately and talk to a car accident lawyer. Experienced motor vehicle accident lawyers from The Clark Law Office can help you get the right compensation for your mental and emotional anguish after the accident.

Normally, the insurance company would want you to settle right away. However, things may be more serious than what you initially thought, which means it is better to seek advice from a lawyer first. Our attorneys from The Clark Law Office will evaluate your case and make sure that you are fairly compensated.

Contact to our personal injury lawyers now at (517)-347-6900, email us at, or fill out our online contact form.  Initial consultations are free of charge. No fees will be charged to you unless you win your case.

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