Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is not only suffered by soldiers returning from war. It can affect anyone involved in a traumatic event.

For some people in New York, the most traumatic situation they will ever encounter in their lives is a serious car accident. The trauma suffered after an accident like that is very real – and it can persist beyond the immediate days and weeks after the accident.

Some people’s lives are, unfortunately, turned upside down due to PTSD.

If you’ve been the victim of PTSD from a car accident, you should not have to suffer in silence.

What can you do about it? How do you get diagnosed and go about seeking help for the condition? What damages might you be able to claim?

Injuries aren’t always physical

After a car accident, physical injuries are often immediately visible. However, even if there is no physical injury evident, it is important to go for a medical check-up as soon as possible.

Shock, anxiety and other psychological effects of accidents are common and generally nothing to worry about if the symptoms fade after a few days or even within a few weeks.

However, if the trauma of the accident does not pass within a month, and it continues to negatively affect your life, it is advisable to be checked for psychological injuries, such as PTSD.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, PTSD is:

“an anxiety disorder that often follows a traumatic event involving actual or threatened death, serious injury, or threat to the physical integrity of oneself or others.”

This may be evident immediately after an accident or symptoms can start later. Mental trauma affects different people in different ways and that is part of the problem when it comes to diagnosing and treating it.

According to studies conducted in 1999 and 2000, the presence of PTSD at least 30 days after a motor vehicle accident is approximately 25-33 percent, though it may be higher.

Diagnosing PTSD from a car accident

Typically, if the signs of emotional trauma do not dissipate within a month of a car accident, the victim should be evaluated for post-traumatic stress disorder.

Diagnosing PTSD can be complex because its onset can be delayed for months after the accident.

If symptoms remain for a minimum of two days and a maximum of four weeks and occur within four weeks of the traumatic event, a diagnosis of acute stress disorder may be made. Longer-term PTSD is more serious, though.

Typical symptoms of PTSD experienced by car accident victims in New York include the following:

  • Psychologically re-living the trauma, e.g., intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, or distressing dreams about the accident
  • Persistent avoidance of thoughts or situations associated with the accident, e.g., a phobia of driving
  • Numbing of emotional responsiveness or absence of emotion
  • Over-emotional responses (i.e., the reverse of the above symptom)
  • Feelings of detachment from others or guilt
  • Increased irritability
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Mood disturbances
  • Depression

The victim will be assessed by the doctors for these types of symptoms and scans may be performed to check for brain damage.

As well as PTSD, related psychological disorders may also present after a car accident. These include serious anxiety disorders and the increased risk of substance abuse.

Physical injuries often accompany the psychological injuries after a car accident. These can range from traumatic brain injuries that cause temporary or permanent paralysis to relatively minor injuries like cuts, abrasions, and bone fractures.

Chronic pain is common for people with PTSD. This is pain that does not improve over time but lingers and continues for months or even years.

In one study of car accident survivors from 2006, 69 percent of car accident victims reported chronic pain that could be attributed to the event. Another study from 1992 found that 50 percent of people who had chronic headaches and other pain also had PTSD.

It is worth noting here that the psychological and physical symptoms experienced by the victim in a car accident also affect the families of the victim. Many people go through great emotional difficulties when a loved one suffers from PTSD.

Long-term effects of traumatic car accidents

Some car accident victims experience long-term effects from their trauma – more than a year after the accident.

These symptoms include:

  • Long-term anxiety – especially when passing the site of the accident or experiencing similar road conditions
  • Phobias of driving or riding in a car
  • Persistent depression
  • Relationship problems
  • Ongoing sleep problems

These long-term symptoms can be debilitating and impact the quality of life or at least force victims to adjust their way of life – even if no major physical injury has been suffered.

Without getting help, some victims never fully recover from their psychological injuries.

Can you claim damages for emotional trauma after an NYC car accident?

Anyone injured in an NYC car accident through the negligent or reckless acts of another road user can file a personal injury lawsuit for damages.

This generally allows you to file for past, present, and future losses and includes both material/economic losses as well as non-economic losses.

Examples of damages that you can claim for PTSD from a car accident:

  • Past, present and future medical expenses, including all medical bills, transport costs and potential future treatment required
  • Damage to property caused by the accident
  • Lost income and future lost earnings
  • Disability
  • Emotional distress, suffering and pain (including emotional trauma in the case of PTSD)
  • Loss of consortium
  • Loss of quality life
  • Trauma

Specifically, for PTSD, your car accident lawyer may advise a claim for the following:

  • The costs of repeat visits to mental health professionals for PTSD diagnosis and therapy
  • Transport costs involved in these visits
  • Costs incurred for counseling for your PTSD
  • Costs of prescription medication prescribed by your psychiatrist
  • Compensation for the emotional pain and suffering caused
  • Possible costs associated with treating alcohol or drug abuse triggered by the PTSD

While some items are relatively simple to prove because of receipts, an experienced New York personal injury attorney may be needed to successfully claim for psychological and emotional suffering, as this is more challenging.

Getting help for PTSD following an accident

While stressful feelings after a car accident in New York are normal to some extent, persistent and long-term problems need medical attention.

Treatment may include the following:

  • Medications to relieve anxiety
  • Therapy for anxiety management
  • Sleep medication
  • Relaxation exercises

Contact The Law Office of Evan Kohn

As anyone who suffers from PTSD knows, it is a real condition and its serious effects should not be dismissed after a car accident in New York.

After contacting a mental health professional for diagnosis and treatment, your next call should be to the The Law Offices of Evan W. Kohn at 718-409-5500.

Evan W. Kohn is an experienced personal injury attorney with an impressive record of obtaining compensation for PSTD victims.

We provide a free and confidential case consultation so that you begin the claim process. After all, the psychological injuries you have suffered are through no fault of your own.

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