Car Accidents & PTSD: Will You Receive Compensation?
Posted in Lawsuit on April 4, 2019
When a negligent driver causes a car accident and injures other drivers, the negligent driver faces liability for any and all damages resulting from the accident. Some drivers sustain serious physical injuries like bone fractures, spinal injuries, and traumatic brain injuries. Sometimes, injured drivers also sustain psychological damage from serious car accidents. A car accident can be a terrifying experience, and some people experience trauma from not only an accident itself but the resulting damages.
Suing for Psychological Damage
A plaintiff in a personal injury case has the burden of proving his or her damages to their full extent and evidence showing the link between the defendant’s actions and the plaintiff’s claimed damages. Psychological damage like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) could play a part of the plaintiff’s overall damages.
Psychological damage falls under noneconomic damages in a personal injury claim, or damages the plaintiff cannot provide with measurable evidence or tangible numbers like economic losses. To prove psychological damage, the plaintiff must provide evidence that he or she experienced negative effects of a psychological condition resulting from the defendant’s actions. For example, if the plaintiff suffered repeated nightmares, flashbacks, and experienced severe anxiety while riding in vehicles after a car accident, these factors may establish a link between the accident in question and the plaintiff’s PTSD.
Common Symptoms of PTSD
Everyone responds to trauma differently. Some people may experience a few days or weeks of discomfort and anxiety following their accidents while others endure extreme psychological distress. The odds of experiencing PTSD increase with catastrophic accidents, fatal accidents, and accidents resulting in severe physical injuries.
Individuals who suffer from PTSD report a wide range of symptoms that can easily interfere with daily life, making it difficult to meet work-related obligations, straining personal relationships, and possibly interfering with the victim’s ability to hold a job. Additionally, some physical injuries can cause permanent disabilities, and a victim coming to terms with a permanent disability or loss of bodily function will experience severe psychological distress while adjusting to this new reality.
- PTSD can cause vivid flashbacks, essentially causing a victim to relive a traumatic event.
- People with PTSD often avoid situations that remind them of their traumatic incidents. For example, a person who develops PTSD from a car accident may have panic attacks or inescapable feelings of dread when riding in vehicles after an accident.
- PTSD can cause mood swings and personality changes.
- Nightmares, insomnia, and other sleeping problems are also common with PTSD.
- Many people with PTSD turn to substance abuse as a coping mechanism, potentially causing long-term problems affecting all aspects of their lives.
These are just a few ways PTSD can diminish quality of life and cause severe problems. When a negligent driver causes a severe car accident and another driver develops PTSD as a result, the negligent driver is responsible for this change and all the economic losses associated with treating the victim’s PTSD.
If you plan to claim damages for PTSD from a car accident, you must offer evidence including a diagnosis from a reliable and properly certified physician. The more evidence you can offer, the better your chances are of securing a satisfactory recovery. A plaintiff filing legal action for PTSD will likely require testimony from expert witnesses. An expert witness is a professional with a specialized background who offers expert insights into a legal matter. An expert witness could testify as to the plaintiff’s symptoms, his or her diagnosis, and help the court draw informed conclusions about liability for the plaintiff’s condition.
When a plaintiff receives compensation for PTSD, it is possible for him or her to receive economic compensation for the cost of treating the condition, such as psychotherapy sessions and medication costs. However, the plaintiff can also receive compensation for the mental anguish and emotional suffering resulting from the PTSD. Every court uses different methods for calculating acceptable pain and suffering damages, but the amount received usually forms the bulk of a plaintiff’s overall recovery and is usually several times more than his or her claimed medical expenses.