Recovering Compensation for PTSD After a Motor Vehicle Crash in California

PTSD textPost-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a serious psychological condition that many injury victims deal with after a major accident. For example, car crash victims might experience PTSD if they suffered life-threatening injuries and/or went through a crash that scared them.

If you are suffering from PTSD following a car crash, you may be wondering whether you can file a claim for compensation. Car crash claims usually involve damages for physical injuries and a claim for a psychological injury may be more difficult to validate.

Our car accident lawyers in Sacramento are prepared to help you file a claim for your PTSD as well as other damages you suffered in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence.

We offer a free consultation and charge you nothing up front.

What Are the Symptoms of PTSD?

According to the Mayo Clinic, PTSD is a mental health condition that is triggered by a traumatic event. Sufferers of the condition will likely experience symptoms that include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety.

Some of the symptoms may begin roughly a month following the traumatic event and can be significant enough to affect people in social and work situations as well as in relationships. The symptoms may be grouped into four types:

  • Avoidance – For example, victims may avoid driving or being in a car. They may not want to go anywhere near where the crash happened. PTSD sufferers may also avoid or distance themselves from people associated with the crash. Another coping mechanism for PTSD sufferers is keeping busy to try to avoid thinking about the crash.
  • Intrusive memories – Despite their attempts to avoid thinking about the crash, they may continue thinking about it. Certain things may trigger memories and cause anxiety.
  • Negative changes in thinking and mood – People may become overly anxious and constantly watching for anything that may make them anxious. They may have sudden angry outbursts. Anxiety can also come out during certain activities, despite this response being unusual for the victim.
  • Changes in physical and emotional reactions – PTSD sufferers often have a lot of emotional instability. This can lead to emotional outbursts and an increased heart rate, especially in situations that remind them of the accident.

The severity of the symptoms may vary from one person to the next.

Some are More at Risk for PTSD

It is important to note some people may be more likely to develop PTSD after a traumatic experience because of certain risk factors, such as preexisting struggles with anxiety or depression. Those who lack social support from friends and family members or who have struggled to cope with other trauma may also be at higher risk for PTSD.

When a crash causes a victim to be concerned about whether he or she will survive, PTSD may be more likely.

What Type of Compensation May Be Available for PTSD?

Compensation for PTSD would fall under compensation for non-economic damages. Emotional issues like PTSD may be cited as pain and suffering. California allows injury victims to pursue compensation from an at-fault driver for non-economic damages like pain and suffering.

There are different ways of calculating the value of pain and suffering. For instance, sometimes attorneys assign a value to the pain and suffering the victim experiences each day.

There are also economic damages that go along with PTSD. Victims may be able to claim the cost of meeting with a mental health professional on an ongoing basis, along with the cost of prescription medication.

How Do I Prove I Suffer from PTSD After a Crash?

Psychological injuries like PTSD are often difficult to prove due to their subjective nature, sort of like physical pain.

An official PTSD diagnosis may only be made by a mental health professional like a psychiatrist, psychologist or counselor.

Your attorney must successfully prove your damages are a direct result of someone else’s negligent actions. For physical injuries, this is done by seeing a doctor as soon as possible after a crash for a diagnosis to help establish a link between the crash and your injuries. Medical records showing those injuries can be presented as evidence.

You may not notice PTSD symptoms right away, which is why it is important to seek help when those symptoms spring up. You may need to see a therapist for weeks before an official diagnosis can be made. The therapist’s notes may be used to help link the victim’s symptoms to the crash. In some cases, the psychologist or other mental health professional provides testimony in court or gives a deposition.

Keeping a journal after the crash may also be helpful as it might be used as evidence if you can document your emotional issues since the crash. It is also important to document how your symptoms have impacted your life:

  • Are you unable to work?
  • Do you find it difficult to participate in the activities you once enjoyed?
  • Have you been avoiding social situations?
  • Have you stopped driving?
  • Have you struggled to get a good night of sleep on a consistent basis?

Call to Schedule a Free Consultation

If you were injured in a serious crash and now suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, you have the right to pursue compensation for your mental health medical bills as well as the emotional suffering you are experiencing. Let our knowledgeable attorneys help you through the process of filing a claim and building a strong case on your behalf.

We offer a free consultation to discuss your legal options. There are no upfront fees and we do not charge you anything unless we win.

Call 916-777-7777 to learn more.