Injuries from a car accident are not just physical. While you might have lacerations, bruises, broken bones, or permanent disability, physical injuries are only half of the equation. Often, after serious trauma, victims suffer from mental trauma. Even if their physical wounds have healed, these emotional damages could last months, years, or become permanent.
Emotional distress damages are a significant component of personal injury claims for a good reason: they can impact a person’s quality of life dramatically.
If you were injured in an accident, you could claim emotional damages as part of your lawsuit. But you need to understand how the process works and the type of damages you could receive.
Emotional Distress Seen in Louisville Car Accident Victims
Emotional distress is the upset a person experiences after a traumatic event – like a motor vehicle accident. You may not have any official medical diagnosis, or you may be diagnosed with an emotional condition.
Distress following a car accident is common. Some symptoms you or a loved one might experience after a crash include:
- Feelings of anxiety
- Unexplained mood swings
- Uncontrollable anger
- Inexplicable fear
- Crying and depression
- Loss of appetite
- Nightmares or insomnia
- Loss of interest in activities and social events that used to be enjoyed
Sometimes, these symptoms become severe enough that they impact a person’s quality of life. They may be unable to work, play with their children, or even interact with others. Some people may be too scared to get into a vehicle, or the sound of traffic can strike fear in them.
Emotional distress might be short-lived or turn into something more serious – such as post-traumatic stress disorder.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from Car Accidents
A car accident is traumatic, but sometimes the trauma can be so severe that it turns into a mental condition known as PTSD. PTSD is not just for military veterans. In fact, this disorder can occur to anyone after a severely traumatic event, especially in a serious car accident.
Car accidents, particularly those that were violent in nature, can trigger PTSD. Research has found that approximately nine percent of car accident victims developed PTSD. After the crash, those victims also had a fear of driving or being in a car and suffered from an extreme anxiety disorder.
How Does PTSD Affect a Person’s Life?
PTSD is not something a person just “gets over.” Instead, it can disrupt their daily life and impact their professional, social, and romantic relationships.
Some symptoms of PTSD include:
- Intense, recurring memories of the accident;
- Flashbacks of the incident
- Night terrors or nightmares
- Purposely avoiding anything that reminds them of the accident, including motor vehicles
- Instances of self-harm
For a person to cope with their PTSD, they will need psychotherapy and sometimes medication. This treatment could take weeks, months, or years – depending on the severity. Also, it depends on the person and how well they mentally cope. One person may only take a few weeks to recover mentally from their accident, while someone in the same type of accident may have PTSD for months.
The costs of treatment for PTSD add up, and they may become a long-term fixture in a person’s life.
Exploring the Long-Term Costs of Emotional Trauma
People in an accident can suffer anxiety, depression, or PTSD. These conditions can last for up to a year or more after the accident. A study published by the American Journal of Psychology found that occurances of emotional trauma were found in victims of motor vehicle accidents at three months and one-year follow-up appointments. Some victims reported improvements over time, but their conditions still impacted them daily.
The long-term ramifications of an emotional condition could affect a person in multiple ways:
- Loss of Income: A person may be too scared to get into a car or even ride public transportation after their accident. Even if they have healed physically and are cleared for work, their fear prevents them from traveling to work – thus, impacting their ability to earn a living.
- Medical Costs: The medication and psychotherapy costs can quickly add up – mainly because most people do not have mental health coverage in their primary health insurance policies. Therefore, the out-of-pocket costs could rival what a patient paid for their initial medical treatment.
What Can Someone with Emotional Trauma Do to Recover?
Recovering from emotional trauma after a car accident is not easy. If you are feeling anxious, depressed, or you think you may have PTSD, speak with a mental health professional right away.
Treatment does take time, but there are some things you may be able to do to help yourself:
- Talk with friends, family, and physicians about how you are feeling. Sometimes just voicing your feelings helps recovery.
- Stay engaged in social activities, be active, stick to a routine, and take part in activities that do not hinder your physical recovery.
- Follow up with your physician, discuss symptoms, and notify them if your emotional conditions worsen.
- Work toward returning to your usual routine as soon as you can – normal household routines, go back to work, etc. Even if you are scared at first, slowly easing back into your usual routine might help.
Speak with an Attorney about Your Emotional Trauma
If you were in an accident and you suffered emotional trauma and physical injuries, you may receive compensation for the mental anguish you have in addition to your physical trauma.
Proving emotional distress is more challenging than physical injuries. Therefore, you need an attorney to help you negotiate a settlement that is fair and addresses the long-term costs of mental anguish.
Speak with attorney, Seth Gladstein, at the Gladstein Law Firm, PLLC, today. We offer no-obligation consultations and can discuss your options with you. Schedule a consultation now at 502-791-9000 or request more information online.