Can Car Accident Victims Include PTSD in Their Claims for Compensation?

Posted on behalf of Peter T. Nicholl in Car Accidents Published on August 4, 2021 and updated on March 15, 2022.

form for diagnostic assessmentCar crashes can cause devastating physical and psychological injuries for victims. In some extreme circumstances, victims may suffer post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which can cause flashbacks, emotional problems and avoidance of certain situations, among other symptoms.

While car crash claims typically involve physical injuries and the damages that result from those injuries, victims may also be able to include psychological injuries like PTSD in their claims. Below, we discuss car crash claims involving PTSD and evidence that may be needed to validate such claims.

If you have questions after a car crash, give The Law Offices of Peter T. Nicholl a call today to schedule your free consultation. There are no upfront fees for our services, and we do not get paid for representing you unless you receive compensation.

Building a Case for PTSD

You will not be able to recover compensation for PTSD unless you have a valid diagnosis of PTSD. You may need to meet with a licensed medical professional several times before he or she can determine if you may have PTSD. The doctor who diagnoses you would need to use criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

It is important to immediately inform your doctor about symptoms of PTSD so they can be documented. If you can show that you have continually reported PTSD symptoms over weeks or months, it can go a long way toward validating your claim.

Your Maryland-based car crash lawyer may also recommend keeping a journal that you write in multiple times a week to document your PTSD symptoms. Your lawyer can explain what you should write to help build your case.

It is particularly important to note how PTSD symptoms impact your life. Are they making it harder to go to work or participate in leisure activities? Are you avoiding social situations? Are you keeping yourself busy to avoid triggering your PTSD? Are you unable to get restful sleep because of nightmares?

What are the Symptoms of PTSD?

PTSD can be defined as a psychiatric disorder experienced by those who experienced or witnessed a traumatic event, like a natural disaster, serious accident, sexual assault, terrorist act, death or serious injury. This is according to the American Psychiatric Foundation.

After this experience, victims may have disturbing thoughts or extreme emotions long afterward. Sometimes victims experience flashbacks or nightmares which make it difficult to resume the activities they engaged in before the accident.

Other symptoms could include:

  • Avoiding the place where the crash occurred
  • Distancing oneself from others, including loved ones, associated with the accident
  • Excessive worry about an impending tragedy
  • Increased irritability
  • Feeling numb and using drugs or alcohol to self-medicate
  • Keeping busy to avoid thinking about what happened
  • Emotional instability
  • Feeling extremely alert or hypervigilant for things that may trigger anxiety or flashbacks
  • Sudden outbursts of anger
  • Feeling overly anxious during certain activities, even though this is out of character for the victim
  • Increased heart rate in certain situations

Risk Factors for PTSD

It is important to note that there are risk factors for PTSD. However, anyone could develop PTSD, even without risk factors.

  • Preexisting mental health issues, such as anxiety or bipolar disorders
  • Lack of social support from friends or family members
  • A history of struggling to cope with trauma, possibly because of trauma in the victim’s past

There are also risk factors based on what happens in the accident. For example, PTSD may be more likely if the victim felt his or her life was in danger, or if he or she watched a loved one die. A slow recovery from physical injury could hurt the victim’s ability to reintegrate into his or her life. Lacking friends or close family could also make it more difficult to move on from the accident.

Need Legal Help You Can Trust? Call Today

For decades, The Law Offices of Peter T. Nicholl has been advocating for those injured by the negligence of others, including car crash victims. We have helped many car crash victims recover compensation to help them move forward with their lives.

Our attorneys work on contingency, which means no upfront fees or legal obligations. There are no fees before taking your case or while we work on your case. There is no risk in meeting with us to determine how we may be able to assist you.

We are here to help. Call to schedule a free consultation. 410-907-3957