Firm Logo

Can You Sue for PTSD After a Car Accident?

By: Anapol Weiss

If negligence was involved in a car accident, you may be able to file a claim against the at-fault party for financial compensation for your damages, along with the lasting pain and suffering associated with PTSD.

What is PTSD?

PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder is a condition that is defined by sufferers’ inability to recover from a sudden traumatic event they have either experienced or witnessed. As a result, car accident survivors may experience PTSD.

The American Psychological Association uses the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSMR) to identify criteria and symptoms of PTSD.

Common Symptoms of PTSD

Although post-traumatic stress disorder may not require surgery or an extended hospital stay, it can arguably be more debilitating in the long-term than a serious injury. As a result, PTSD often makes daily activities almost impossible.

Symptoms can manifest in a number of ways:

  • Re-living the experience: A trigger may suddenly result in nightmares, insomnia, flashbacks, and intense fear and anxiety.
  • Avoidance: While this is typically defined as avoiding people, places, and things that may remind you of the trauma, this can also apply to emotions. Withdrawal, muted behaviors, and generally lack of emotions can be a key sign of avoidance as well.
  • Hyper-Arousal: Intense feelings of anxiety, fear, anger, or sudden outbursts are primary signs of hyper-arousal.
  • Difficulty Sleeping: Because it can trigger flashbacks and nightmares PTSD often leads to disruption of one’s normal sleep schedule.
  • Other Behavioral Changes: PTSD can lead to intense bouts of depression, anxiety disorders, difficulty concentrating, suicidal thoughts, and a general feeling of worthlessness and guilt.

Filing a PTSD Claim is Possible, But Can Be Difficult

If you are an accident victim suffering from PTSD as a result of a devastating motor vehicle accident, it is possible to file a claim against the at-fault parties for your damages. However, it can be considerably more difficult to succeed in such a claim for several reasons:

  • Because PTSD is an emotional and mental disorder, it can be difficult to convey its impact and severity. By contrast, a physical injury has clearly visible impacts on a victim, along with financial expenses that help quantify the severity of the injury.
  • You must definitively prove that you were professional diagnosed with PTSD. Additionally, even if that is established, you must prove that your car accident directly contributed or caused the development of PTSD.
  • Determining the value of your claim can also be complicated, as there may not be any hospital bills or other disabilities that can quantify the debilitating effects of PTSD.
  • Lawsuits on the basis of pain and suffering are typically punitive measures, reserved for car accidents where the at-fault parties exhibited gross negligence and a general lack of remorse for their actions. If your car accident was, by all accounts, a “normal” accident, it may be difficult to be compensated for pain and suffering.

Ultimately, a PTSD claim can succeed – but it may take more work than a standard lawsuit.

What Do I Need for a Successful PTSD Claim?

In order to successfully sue for PTSD following a car accident, it’s highly recommended to have the following:

  • A personal injury lawyer who is experienced in developing comprehensive case strategies with complex damages in mind. They have the knowledge and skills to craft a compelling argument on the basis of your PTSD.
  • Expert witnesses to corroborate your PTSD diagnosis – and that your car accident directly contributed to your PTSD. This may include medical professionals, licensed therapists, academics, or other experienced individuals who may have first-hand knowledge of PTSD and the circumstances surrounding its development. More expert witnesses is always beneficial to your case.
  • Someone who may be able to accurately quantify the damages associated with your PTSD. Unlike physical injuries, determining how much your case is worth can be more complicated. Consulting a professional who has experience in determining the value of a case involving a mental disorder can be invaluable to your recovery.

Car accidents can be traumatic, and nobody should discount the impact one may have on our physical, emotional, and mental health. If you developed any disorders or health issues, you deserve compensation for your damages – no matter how much it “looks” like it impacts your life.

PTSD is arguably more impactful than many major injuries, and thus should be taken more seriously by the legal system.

Talk to an Attorney About Filing a PTSD Claim

If you or a loved one has experienced a serious car accident that has had a lasting, traumatic negative impact, filing a PTSD claim may be possible with the help of an experienced personal injury attorney.

PTSD that results from an automobile accident can be debilitating and life-altering. It often leads to comes with mental, emotional, and physical consequences – along with the stresses of medical bills and treatment. For more information, speak to a car accident attorney in Philadelphia at Anapol Weiss today.