Can You Sue for PTSD After an Accident?

Devastating vehicle crashes can cause lifelong injuries, resulting in broken bones, disfigurement, neurological and muscular damage and disability. The wreck itself can also be emotionally traumatizing, causing nightmares, extreme anxiety, depression and, in some severe cases, PTSD.

Beyond physical and psychological injuries, you are probably also facing large medical bills and lost wages. After a car accident, there are both monetary and non-monetary damages, like pain and suffering. If you’ve suffered an injury due to a car or truck accident, you may be entitled to financial compensation. You should not have to bear the financial burden of someone else’s reckless driving. A skilled and experienced car accident lawyer can help.

Can you get PTSD from an accident?

Anxiety, depression and emotional trauma can result from car accidents.

Yes, in some extremely severe circumstances, you can get PTSD from an accident. Less serious car crashes can result in a concussion or lacerations, leading to days off work and property damage. But more serious accidents – especially those involving the loss of life, paralysis or amputation – can cause psychological and mental health issues that are devastating. Fear, enduring trauma and nightmares that last long after the crash can be an indicator of PTSD. It may require counseling, medication, the need for a less stressful occupation, or permanent disability. Crash victims suffering from PTSD may be able to get compensation for their pain and suffering in some cases. While it can be challenging to prove a personal injury claim based on a PTSD diagnosis, it is not impossible if the facts support it.

Pain and suffering is not easily quantifiable – not like the cost of a totaled car or hospital bills. But a court will look at evidence of psychological and lifestyle setbacks when determining the existence of pain and suffering and how to compensate for it. Some examples of pain and suffering include:

  • Terror and grief
  • Easily startled
  • Chronic worry and anxiety after the accident
  • Inability to laugh or enjoy life
  • Isolation and depression
  • Fitful sleep or insomnia
  • Nightmares due to memories of the accident
  • Humiliation or embarrassment because of disfigurement
  • Chronic physical pain
  • Unexplained anger or rage
  • Nervousness and inability to relax
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • PTSD.

A skilled and experienced personal injury lawyer can explain whether or not they believe you have a pain and suffering legal claim based on your unique circumstances. It’s possible you may need an expert witness in the medical field to help prove your claim.

What is PTSD?

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) describes PTSD in the following way:

“PTSD affects approximately 3.5 percent of U.S. adults every year, and an estimated one in 11 people will be diagnosed with PTSD in their lifetime. Women are twice as likely as men to have PTSD … People with PTSD have intense, disturbing thoughts and feelings related to their experience that last long after the traumatic event has ended. They may relive the event through flashbacks or nightmares; they may feel sadness, fear or anger; and they may feel detached or estranged from other people. People with PTSD may avoid situations or people that remind them of the traumatic event, and they may have strong negative reactions to something as ordinary as a loud noise or an accidental touch.”

The APA goes on to describe the symptoms and diagnosis of PTSD. Symptoms of PTSD fall into four categories, with varying degrees of severity.

  1. Intrusion: Intrusive thoughts such as repeated, involuntary memories, distressing dreams, or flashbacks of the traumatic event. Flashbacks may be so vivid that people feel they are re-living the traumatic experience or seeing it before their eyes.
  2. Avoidance: Avoiding reminders of the traumatic event may include avoiding people, places, activities, objects and situations that may trigger distressing memories. People may try to avoid remembering or thinking about the traumatic event. They may resist talking about what happened or how they feel about it.
  3. Alterations in cognition and mood: Inability to remember important aspects of the traumatic event, negative thoughts and feelings leading to ongoing and distorted beliefs about oneself or others (e.g., “I am bad,” “No one can be trusted”); distorted thoughts about the cause or consequences of the event leading to wrongly blaming self or other; ongoing fear, horror, anger, guilt or shame; much less interest in activities previously enjoyed; feeling detached or estranged from others; or being unable to experience positive emotions (a void of happiness or satisfaction).
  4. Alterations in arousal and reactivity: Arousal and reactive symptoms may include being irritable and having angry outbursts; behaving recklessly or in a self-destructive way; being overly watchful of one’s surroundings in a suspecting way; being easily startled; or having problems concentrating or sleeping.

How much compensation do you get for PTSD after a car accident?

Compensation is hard to calculate, because the amount is so fact-dependent and the facts in every case are different. Generally, the greater and more devastating the injury and resulting mental health issues, the more likely you are to receive greater compensation. The court will take into account both the out-of-pocket dollar costs to you caused by the accident and the current and future medical and psychological costs when determining damages.

Is there a statute of limitations in Kentucky when filing a personal injury claim?

Yes. Under Kentucky Revised Statutes section 304.39-230, you have two years to file a car accident lawsuit, starting from the date of the crash or the date on which you received your last “personal injury protection” car insurance claim payment, whichever occurs later.

All other types of personal injury lawsuits that are not vehicle accidents are subject to a one-year filing deadline in Kentucky, according to Kentucky Revised Statutes section 413.140(1).

Contact a PTSD Lawyer Today

If you have been injured in a vehicle accident and suffered psychological difficulties resulting from the crash, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Attorney Billy Johnson is here to help. We’ve assisted hundreds of car accident victims in getting the payouts they deserve. To find out more about how we can help you, call us at 606-437-4488 for a free initial consultation.

Attorney Billy Johnson

William “Billy” Johnson grew up in the Dorton area of Pike County, Kentucky, and early on decided to stay in the beautiful Appalachian mountains. Like many others in Eastern Kentucky, Billy’s dad worked as a coal miner, a hard job but one that taught his son how to meet challenges head on and persevere. Attorney Billy Johnson has years of experience helping injured clients with claims such as car, truck, and motorcycle accidents, wrongful deaths, work injuries, and more. [ Attorney Bio ]

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