Serious car accidents are harrowing experiences. These experiences can leave you struggling with a wide array of emotions, including shock, disbelief, anger, worry, fear, sadness, confusion, and guilt. These strong, negative feelings often subside within a few days of the crash, but if they don't, or they become even more intense, you may be suffering from accident-related psychological trauma, sometimes called PTSD.
Experiencing mental health issues after a major crash is not at all uncommon. Not only are motor vehicle accidents the leading cause of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among civilians, according to the American Psychological Association (APA), but a study conducted by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs found that approximately 9% of crash survivors go on to develop the condition. Additional research shows that accident victims also have an increased risk of other psychiatric disorders, such as anxiety and depression.
If you were injured in a car crash caused by another person or entity's negligence and are now suffering from psychological trauma as a result, you may be entitled to compensation. Insurance defense adjusters and attorneys often discount these claims asserting that they not physical in nature and may be falsified. Here's what you should know about how mental health damages can affect your California personal injury claim.
Symptoms Associated With Crash-Related Psychological Trauma
After surviving a brutal car accident, victims with PTSD may experience four main types of symptoms: Intrusion, numbness, avoidance, and arousal, which may present as intrusive memories of the traumatic event, an inability to feel emotions, avoidance of people, places, or things associated with the crash, and paranoia or hypervigilance.
Additional symptoms associated with PTSD, anxiety, depression, or other trauma-related psychiatric disorders include:
- Increasing anxiety or unease
- Excessive irritability, worry, or anger
- Inability to focus
- Trouble eating or sleeping
- Persistent nightmares about the crash, and related injuries or medical treatment
- Intense fear or anxiety about driving or riding in vehicles
- Feelings of anguish
- Mood swings
- Feeling emotionally disconnected
- Flashbacks or blackouts
- Thoughts of self-harm or of harming others
- Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed
Mental Health Is as Important as Physical Health
Though much of your attention may be focused on recovering from your physical injuries after an accident, it's important not to neglect your mental health in the process. Not only is mental health just as important as physical health, but some studies even suggest that untreated psychological trauma may negatively impact your physical recovery and put you at a greater risk of illnesses like metabolic syndrome and obesity.
If you're experiencing worrisome psychological symptoms after a serious car crash, contact your doctor as soon as possible to discuss treatment options. Also, make sure to mention that the symptoms began after your accident so that this important detail can be documented in your medical records.
Seeking Compensation for Mental and Emotional Distress
Accident-related mental and emotional trauma may require extensive—and expensive—treatment. If your psychological injuries were caused by someone else's negligence, you shouldn't be the one left footing the bill. Fortunately, California's personal injury laws allow you to seek compensation for both economic and non-economic losses, meaning that you can pursue a financial recovery for the cost of your mental health treatment, as well as the emotional anguish the condition has caused.
An Attorney Can Help You Fight for a Fair Financial Recovery
Unfortunately, though it is possible to seek damages for mental health trauma sustained in a crash, actually obtaining a fair financial recovery can be challenging—which is why it's important to consult an attorney about your legal rights and options as soon as possible. A knowledgeable personal injury attorney can advise you on how to document proof of your physical, psychological, and other injuries in order to present a strong case for damages.
Contact the Inland Empire Law Group today at (888) 694-3529, (909) 481-0100, or submit your case information on one of the forms on this website to speak with a member of our skilled legal team. Don't wait—the time to file your car accident claim is limited by California law.