What Happens After You Get PTSD After an Accident?

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a debilitating mental illness that substantially alters the life of a person that is diagnosed with this disorder. Car accidents are the leading cause of post-traumatic stress disorder among Americans who never served in the military. Post-traumatic stress disorder represents compensable damage in a personal injury claim.

The symptoms and effects of post-traumatic stress disorder may be difficult for unrepresented victims to prove. If you have been in a car accident and now suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, contact a personal injury lawyer in your area to discuss your legal options. To learn more about what happens after you get PTSD after an accident, continue reading.

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What Is PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental disorder caused by extreme stress. The stressor may be a single event or repetitive traumatic occurrences. A person with PTSD has trouble responding to and recovering from the traumatic event(s) that caused the condition. Triggers plague those who suffer from PTSD. These problems may last a few months or many years.

What Are Some Symptoms of PTSD?

Symptoms of PTSD include:


Individuals who suffer from PTSD may resort to extreme isolation as a coping mechanism. A car accident is distressing, and some isolation is normal and expected. However, with PTSD, the isolation increases and does not get better. Those with PTSD may convince themselves that they are a burden and self-isolate to relieve the stress of those around them. In some cases, isolation is a response to a loved one expressing frustration with their condition.

Depression and Anxiety

Many people diagnosed with PTSD also suffer from depression and anxiety. The problems that come with PTSD are often overwhelming and can cause great emotional distress. People with PTSD may also suffer from depression. Get medical attention if you suffer from depression that is so severe that it interferes with your daily life. Anxiety may be present also. A person with PTSD may also have anxiety about whether they will get better.

Sleep Disturbances

Too much sleep, lack of sleep, or lack of quality sleep is a common problem for people with PTSD. The sufferer may sleep longer than pre-accident, which may signal major depression. On the other extreme, a person with PTSD may not sleep very much at all. They may avoid sleep to avoid nightmares about the accident.


Flashbacks are a classic sign of post-traumatic stress disorder. A flashback includes memories that take the victim back to the event- the scene of the car accident. These flashbacks cause extreme distress. Flashbacks can come in the form of racing thoughts that may feel like the victim is reliving the trauma. Flashbacks can cause the victim to become transfixed on every detail of the accident, wondering who is to blame and how they might have avoided it.

Intrusive Thoughts

Intrusive thoughts are unwanted thoughts that are unpredictable and nearly impossible to stop once they have started. People who suffer from PTSD struggle with an increased rate of intrusive thoughts. The intensity of these intrusive thoughts may cause the victim to be angry and feel helpless.

Increased Anger

Anger is a common response to the frustration of PTSD. A person with post-traumatic stress disorder may struggle to understand their symptoms and control their triggers which can cause great frustration and anger.


Hypervigilance is an increased awareness of one’s surroundings. A car accident may make someone hypervigilant for a while, but a person with PTSD is extremely hypervigilant. A person with PTSD may be overly cautious when driving a car after the accident if they ever drive a car again. Some victims may try to pay attention to every detail of any potentially dangerous situation so they can avoid a similar injury.

Trouble Concentrating

Post-traumatic stress disorder can cause victims to have trouble concentrating. A person with PTSD may be hyper-focused on the details of the accident. They may obsess over understanding how the accident happened and how to avoid it in the future. Lack of concentration can bleed over into a victim’s everyday life, negatively affecting their work and personal lives.


A person with PTSD may struggle with chronic fatigue, avoiding sleep to evade nightmares. A consequence of chronic fatigue is the lack of ability to handle emotions properly. A person that struggles with chronic fatigue and PTSD may feel even more distress because of their inability to control their emotions.


People with PTSD often have vivid nightmares about the triggering event.

Suicidal Thoughts

If you struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder, you know that dealing with its symptoms and comorbidities can feel overwhelming, and life can feel like it is not worth living. People with PTSD often pressure themselves to get better, often motivated by the desire to stop feeling like a burden to loved ones or to feel normal again.

If you have PTSD or struggle with suicidal thoughts, please get help. People are available and trained to speak with you at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Are There Treatments for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?What Happens After You Get PTSD After an Accident?

Yes, treatments for PTSD exist. Caregivers can customize a treatment plan to meet your needs. Some common treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder include cognitive behavioral therapy, trauma-focused psychotherapy, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy, and medication.

How Are Damages for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder After a Car Accident Calculated?

Money damages are available for post-traumatic stress disorder after a car accident. Like all personal injuries, an injured plaintiff must prove that they suffered from the injury. An experienced accident attorney can help you prove your case and collect damages. To assist your attorney, get medical attention immediately after the accident and contact an accident attorney.

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a non-economic injury. Non-economic injuries are intangible damages that an accident caused. Plaintiffs are entitled to compensation for non-economic damages. However, despite the availability of compensation, these damages are difficult to prove. An attorney can help you prove your case.

Post-traumatic stress disorder can lead to economic and tangible damages. An accident victim with PTSD may lose their job and income. They may rack up medical and therapy bills. Current and future medical bills and lost income are compensable damages that an accident victim can recover after an accident.

Other intangible damages that PTSD can cause are loss of enjoyment of life and mental and emotional anguish. These damages, along with economic damages, add to the overall value of a PTSD claim after a car accident.

What Should I Do After an Accident?

If you were in an  accident, the next steps that you take are crucial. Time is of the essence. Do not delay getting medical treatment and contacting a local attorney.

Get Medical Attention Immediately

Get medical attention directly after the accident. The longer the delay between the accident and receiving medical care, the more speculative the connection between the accident and your injury. If an accident victim cannot prove that the accident caused their injury, their claim will fail.

To prove that you suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, your medical records must show that you were diagnosed with the illness. Your attorney can help you connect with a medical professional that can help prove that the accident caused the PTSD. Your attorney will also work with you to learn how PTSD negatively impacted your life.

You deserve compensation for your injuries after an accident. If you have suffered an injury in an accident, contact a local personal injury lawyer to discuss your legal rights. There is no reason to pursue an accident claim alone. There are plenty of accident lawyers in your area that have experience and are happy to assist you.

Speak to a Local Attorney Immediately

The sooner you contact a local lawyer after an accident, the better. A personal injury lawyer will protect your legal rights, advise you on the next steps, and help you avoid common pitfalls to which unrepresented accident victims find themselves vulnerable.

Your attorney is on your side and wants the best outcome for you. One way that a personal injury attorney helps ensure that you do not settle for less than your claim is worth. Accident victims with PTSD may agree to a final settlement amount before the full extent of their injuries is known. Do not fall into that trap. PTSD symptoms can last a lifetime; once you agree to a settlement and sign a release, the case ends.

What If I Cannot Afford an Accident Attorney?

If you have PTSD because of an accident that was not your fault, contact a local personal injury attorney immediately. Many personal injury lawyers across the country complete their legal work on a contingency fee basis.

A contingency fee is a payment structure agreement between an injury client and an attorney to defer payment for legal services until after the case resolves. You may have heard an advertisement like, “We don’t get paid unless you do.” That is a contingency fee agreement.

The terms of your contingency fee agreement should be in writing and signed by you and your attorney. Make sure that before you sign an agreement, you understand the terms. Do not be afraid to talk to your attorney about any part of the agreement you do not understand. Payment of attorney’s fees and payment of litigation costs are two common terms included in contingency fee contracts.

Litigation costs arise during the lawsuit. Examples of litigation costs include filing fees, costs of copies and postage, and fees for expert witness testimony. Your attorney may front the cost of litigation if you agree to reimburse the expense when the case is closed, or you can pay litigation expenses as they arise.

Should I Research an Attorney Before Hiring Them?

To increase your chances of maximizing your compensation after an accident, research the attorney you want to hire before you finalize any agreement. You want to hire an attorney with experience winning cases like yours. You may ask an attorney about their success record and if they have won cases with plaintiffs with post-traumatic stress disorder.

If you hire a lawyer with relevant experience, you will obtain a more favorable outcome. You should feel free to meet with multiple attorneys before you decide on one to represent you. The more work you do on the front end, the greater your chances of a successful outcome.

Contact an Accident Attorney Today

If you have suffered an accident that caused post-traumatic stress disorder, you need a local personal injury lawyer to represent you against the insurance company and defense attorneys. There is no reason to go at it alone after an accident. Contact a personal injury lawyer today.

September 1, 2022
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