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PTSD After a Car Accident

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Posted on February 21, 2023

If you get into or witness a severe or catastrophic car accident, you may come away with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – a psychiatric condition that can be caused by exposure to trauma. PTSD can have a major impact on your life. It can trigger fears and anxieties that make it impossible for you to get behind the wheel of a car or sleep without nightmares, for example. Find out if you can file a claim for PTSD after a car accident under Florida law.

What Is PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder can happen to someone who lives through or witnesses a highly traumatic event. While PTSD was traditionally associated with combat veterans and active war zones, many different types of trauma can cause this psychological reaction in a victim or witness. This includes surviving or seeing a car accident take place – especially if someone you love was injured or killed in the wreck.

PTSD is a psychiatric disorder or mental health condition that is triggered by a traumatic event. It typically occurs a few days to weeks after experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event. The psychological effects of PTSD can last months or years. Its symptoms can get triggered by things in a survivor’s everyday life. A car accident victim, for example, may be triggered by motor vehicles or loud noises. PTSD triggers can cause intense emotional and physical reactions.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of PTSD After a Car Accident?

A car accident survivor may experience one or more symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in the aftermath of a crash. The worse a car accident is, the more likely it is to cause psychological trauma. However, it can be difficult to predict how a victim will react to the stress and fear of a car crash. PTSD looks different for everyone. Even after a minor car accident, those involved may experience symptoms of PTSD.

Common symptoms include:

  • New phobias
  • Uncontrollable feelings of fear or anxiety
  • Getting easily startled
  • Chronic anxiety or depression
  • Isolation or withdrawal from others
  • Intrusive thoughts
  • Flashbacks of the accident
  • Nightmares and trouble sleeping
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Feelings of helplessness
  • Personality changes
  • Impatience or irritability
  • Angry outbursts or lashing out
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions

PTSD can make it difficult or impossible to move on from a traumatic car accident. It can focus all of a victim’s mental energy and attention on the crash, causing them to constantly think about or review the incident. Instead of simply remembering the car accident, however, the victim may feel like he or she is reliving it. This can cause significant stress, emotional damage and mental anguish.

Can You File a Personal Injury Claim for PTSD After a Car Accident in Florida?

Coping with and healing from post-traumatic stress disorder after a car accident often requires professional medical care. For example, different types of therapies may be needed to identify a victim’s negative thoughts and turn them into something positive. A victim may also need prescription medications, such as anti-anxiety and anti-depressant drugs, to cope with the symptoms of PTSD.

In Florida, it may be possible to recover financial compensation for PTSD as part of a pain and suffering damage award. This is often available in a third-party lawsuit against the driver who caused a crash. Under Florida’s no-fault car insurance law, however, holding another driver responsible and obtaining pain and suffering damages is only an option after a severe car accident. Discuss your legal options with a personal injury lawyer for more information.