If you or a family member was involved in a car crash caused by a negligent driver, you could suffer life-altering injuries, such as traumatic brain injury, back and spinal injuries, paralysis, or internal organ damage. However, you could also suffer an equally debilitating but more hidden injury—post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
You could be entitled to compensation for physical injuries, but you'll need the help of an experienced car accident attorney to hold the negligent driver and his insurance company accountable.
What Is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?
PTSD is a mental health condition that sometimes happens when someone experiences a traumatic event—such as an auto collision, combat exposure, or sexual abuse—that causes emotions, such as fear, helplessness, or horror.
Both adults and children can suffer accident-related PTSD. A person is more likely to develop PTSD in these situations:
- He experienced an intense or long-lasting trauma
- He has a high-stress job that puts him in contact with people experiencing trauma, such as paramedics, fire fighters, or police officers
- He suffers with depression, anxiety, or other mental health conditions
- He has a family history of mental health illness
- He has an alcohol or drug substance abuse problem
Symptoms of PTSD
The symptoms of PTSD can develop soon after a car accident or take weeks, months, or longer to emerge. They can be extreme and cause a person to be unable to work or cope with his day-to-day activities. Symptoms are generally one of four types: invasive memories, avoidance, negative changes in a person’s emotions and moods, and changes in physical and emotional reactions.
Some common symptoms include:
- Having reoccurring and distressing memories of the terrifying event
- Experiencing nightmares about the traumatic incident
- Avoiding talking about the event
- Avoiding places, activities, and people that pose reminders of the incident
- Having negative thoughts about self and others and hopelessness about the world
- Experiencing memory or concentration problems
- Feeling detached from family and friends and difficulty maintaining relationships
- Being easily frightened
- Always being on alert for danger
- Having difficulty sleeping
- Engaging in self-destructive behaviors, such as alcohol and drug abuse
- Exhibiting anger or aggressive behaviors
- Feeling shame and guilt
- Feeling suicidal
So for example, after the trauma of a serious accident, someone may present PTSD symptoms in various ways, such as:
- Feeling anxious whenever in a car
- Driving out-of-the-way to avoid the crash site, or react with road rage to the slightest issue
- Being triggered into a state of anxiety or fear by common traffic sounds
- Be incapable of driving for fear of another collision
Treatments You Could Need for PTSD
If you suffer with PTSD, you may need extensive treatments to help you cope with the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, the challenges these symptoms cause in your life, and the underlying causes of the condition.
Treatments may not always stop you from experiencing PTSD, but can help you to function better and perform your daily tasks
—even if you're no longer able to work.
Treatments could include the following:
- Cognitive therapy. Cognitive therapy is a type of talk therapy that can help you identify the ways thinking patterns keep you stuck in your current mental condition. If you suffer with PTSD, you'll most likely undergo this therapy in combination with exposure therapy.
- Exposure therapy. This type of therapy can help you face the terrifying memories of the car accident so you can cope with them better. It can be especially helpful if you experience nightmares or flashbacks of the crash. Some therapies include the use of a virtual reality program to allow you to safely re-enter the place where your accident occurred.
- Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). EMDR is often utilized with exposure therapy. It's a series of guided eye movements that can help you safely experience the traumatic event and change how you react to it.
- Stress management skills. A therapist can teach you stress management skills that allow you to better manage an episode of PTSD or another stressful situation.
- Medications. Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications may help you deal with depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders that are common for people who suffer with PTSD. You'll need to work with a doctor to find the correct medications and dosage that improve your symptoms. Although not approved by the FDA for treatment of PTSD, prazosin (Minipress) may be prescribed if you have both insomnia and nightmares.
Let Us Help You Obtain Compensation to Help Treat PTSD
Because PTSD isn't a physical injury, you may need more medical evidence and other documentation of your injury to convince the negligent driver’s insurance company that you suffer with this and should be compensated for it. At Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys, we understand the devastating consequences this mental condition can have on your life. To learn how we can help you obtain fair compensation, call our office today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.