Can I Obtain Compensation for PTSD After a Car Crash?
Posted on behalf of RizkLaw on Mar 20, 2020 in Auto Accident
Not all injuries caused by car accidents are physical in nature. Sometimes, the most lasting injuries are psychological. Years after an accident, victims may continue to suffer from flashbacks and other serious psychological conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.
The personal injury team at Rizk Law is committed to helping you obtain compensation for all the damages you sustained in a car wreck. A Portland car accident lawyer can review your claim and may be able to help you fight for fair compensation.
What Are the Symptoms of PTSD?
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychological condition that people may experience after going through a traumatic event. While most often associate this condition with combat, people may also suffer from this condition after experiencing or witnessing violent attacks, car accidents and other physically or emotionally traumatizing events that cause an individual to experience helplessness, fear or horror.
Symptoms of PTSD include:
- Intrusive thoughts – PTSD victims may have flashbacks, nightmares or recurring recollections of the event.
- Avoidance – Victims may feel nervous around others and may be unable to participate in normal life activities or be around crowded places or groups of people. In some situations, the victim may experience total social phobia.
- Arousal – Some victims may experience constant alertness, sleep problems, paranoia and difficulty focusing.
- Numbness – The victim may feel numb about emotions and experiences around them. They may have difficulty feeling or expressing emotion and may feel depressed.
Severe forms of PTSD involve paranoia, auditory hallucinations, and thoughts of hurting oneself or others. Symptoms associated with PTSD often may not arise until weeks or months after the traumatizing event.
How Can I Prove PTSD?
It is important that you seek medical attention immediately after your accident so that you can be checked for all types of injuries – including psychological ones. Following prescribed treatment and continuing under supervised medical care is important for PTSD as for any other type of injury. For additional help, your treating physician may refer you to a counselor or psychiatrist.
Some documents that may provide evidence of a PTSD injury include:
- Doctor’s notes
- Therapy notes
- Referrals to mental health professionals
Additionally, you can present testimony from the following witnesses:
Expert witnesses are people with unique knowledge or skills that can help explain more complicated aspects of a case. An expert witness such as a psychiatrist or doctor may be able to describe PTSD and its symptoms to jurors. He or she can explain how the accident caused you to suffer from this condition and how it has affected your life and emotional stability.
An expert witness can also explain:
- How PTSD is diagnosed
- Your specific symptoms
- Details of your case
- How your level of PTSD compares with others who suffer from this condition
Not all witnesses are experts, but they may still be able to provide useful information. You may have credible witnesses who can talk about how you demonstrated symptoms associated with PTSD. For example, your loved ones may discuss how you have become isolated or wake up from terrifying nightmares. Eyewitnesses to the accident may discuss how you reacted immediately after the accident. Coworkers may testify about how your work has changed since the accident or your difficulty working with others.
Because it can take time to establish your psychological injuries, you should avoid settling your car accident claim early in the process. Instead, it is important that you wait until all your medical conditions have been diagnosed and you have recovered as much as possible.
A trusted personal injury lawyer will understand how to gather necessary evidence to support your claim for damages. He or she can also discuss when settlement should be considered or delayed until you have achieved maximum recovery.
What Other Psychological Injuries Can Be Caused by a Car Crash?
Serious car accidents have been linked with other psychological injuries besides PTSD, including the following:
- Adjustment disorders
- Worsening of existing personality or mental disorders
Insurance companies may try to get out of compensating accident victims by claiming that they had a pre-existing injury, such as anxiety or depression. However, if your condition was worsened or caused new symptoms, you may still be eligible for compensation.
Document PTSD & Get Help
Pain and suffering damages are a huge part of any personal injury claim but proving pain and suffering can be very challenging. I often say, "pain and suffering is like mist; real, but hard to nail down.”
A medical diagnosis of PTSD from a qualified psychologist transforms pain and suffering from something that is difficult to quantify, like mist, to a verifiable medical diagnosis.
If you suspect you suffer from PTSD, here are some important steps you can take:
- Contact your primary care physician
- Describe your symptoms in detail (such as, vivid dreams or fear of driving)
- Request a referral to a psychologist who has experience treating PTSD
Informing your primary care doctor of your concerns may also help your claim, because it creates an official medical record that helps to verify and document the real pain and suffering you are experiencing.
It is important to seek care from a psychologist, not simply a counselor. This is because psychologists have extensive training and knowledge of PTSD and are better equipped to properly diagnose it.
If you would like a recommendation for a psychologist who may be able to help, Rizk Law attorneys and staff are well acquainted with empathetic psychologists in the greater Portland area. You can ask for contact details by contacting our firm at: 503.245.5677.
Getting Help from an Experienced Attorney
If you believe that you or a loved one is suffering from PTSD after a collision, it is important to speak to our experienced legal team at Rizk Law. We can review the details of your situation and determine whether you may have a valid case for pursuing compensation to help provide for your ongoing medical care.
Contact us today to schedule a FREE ONLINE consultation to discuss your legal options and get answers your questions from the comfort of your home. If we find you have a claim, we utilize eSign, a secure app that allows us to complete the new claims process.