Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is caused by traumatic experiences in which people have feared for their lives. Being in war is one of the best-known causes of PTSD. However, car accidents are also a common source of PTSD. In fact, car accidents are the leading overall source of PTSD-causing trauma in the general population, according to the American Psychological Association. More than 39 percent of people who have been in car accidents develop PTSD.
It isn’t hard to see why. The sight of a car barreling straight toward you, or the terror of falling as your car goes through a guardrail and down a hill, can stay with you the rest of your life. Many car accidents seem to come out of the blue, to their victims. They may have experienced great pain and injury. Few events in the course of one’s life are as traumatic as car accidents. If you or a loved one is still suffering from injuries related to a car accident read on to learn what you can do to help. schedule a free consultation with a car accident attorney at the Law Offices of Ivan M. Diamond to discuss your legal options.
How Can I Tell If I Have PTSD?
It’s very normal to have feelings of fear, pain, and rage in the aftermath of a car accident. In fact, these feelings are very normal. If your accident has been very serious, it’s very understandable that you feel your life is in danger. You may also feel very helpless and as if your life is out of control—after all, car accidents often aren’t under our control.
However, symptoms of PTSD don’t go away, and may actually get worse with time. The following are major PTSD symptoms, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders used by psychologists.
- Intrusive memories of the accident and related circumstances
- Avoidance behaviors, in which the person tries to avoid uncomfortable emotions
- Changes in emotional reactions
- Negative thinking and mood changes
PTSD sufferers may be enraged at events that do not affect most people. They may act irrationally or become more aggressive. They may experience flashbacks of the event. They may have difficulty concentrating or sleeping.
PTSD symptoms can negatively affect family and friend relationships and work performance. As a result, people may become more isolated and have challenges at work, even potentially losing their jobs.
Treatment of PTSD
Emotional support and therapy have helped many people. Victims of PTSD will analyze what triggers their negative thoughts and behaviors and learn to manage the triggers. Some therapies teach victims to replace their negative thoughts the minute they become aware of them with other thoughts.
Seek treatment immediately. PTSD symptoms can deepen and worsen if you do not treat them right away.
How Do I Receive a Diagnosis of PTSD?
People who believe they may be suffering from PTSD or have one or more of the symptoms above should discuss their symptoms with a qualified psychologist or psychiatrist, who can diagnose them with PTSD.
Can I Be Compensated for PTSD After a Car Accident?
PTSD treatment can be expensive, and it’s only natural to wonder if you can be compensated for the treatment after a car accident.
No-Fault Insurance Coverage
New York is a no-fault state for insurance purposes. Every driver is mandated by the state to carry insurance to compensate them after an accident, regardless of who was at fault for the accident.
Each driver must carry the following as minimum insurance coverage.
- $25,000 liability coverage for bodily injury per person (if you cause the accident)
- $50,000 total liability bodily injury coverage per accident (if you cause the accident, regardless of how people are injured)
- $10,000 liability coverage for property damage (per accident you cause)
- $50,000 in no-fault (personal injury protection, PIP) coverage
- Uninsured motorist coverage (for bodily injury sustained by you), subject to the minimums above
It may be possible to receive compensation for PTSD treatment from this insurance. PIP coverage ordinarily covers medical bills and expenses caused by an accident.
For more information on being compensated by PTSD via no-fault insurance, consult an experienced car accident attorney for help.
Serious Injury and No-Fault Rules
If your PTSD causes disability or you were also seriously injured in the accident, it may be possible to bring a claim against an at-fault driver (via their insurance company) or file a personal injury suit.
Why? Because under New York law, people who have been seriously injured in a car accident can pursue damage claims from at-fault parties. They are not confined to no-fault.
The law defines serious injury as a minimum of one of the following.
- Fractured bones
- Significant disfigurement
- Significant limitation of a body function or system’s use
- Permanent limitation of a body organ or member’s use
- Substantially full disability for 90 days
Note that another driver or another entity (such as a car manufacturer) must be at fault for this to occur. They must have exhibited negligence via careless driving, careless production, or breaking of the law. If their negligence caused the accident, and the accident caused your PTSD, they can be liable for your injuries, including PTSD.
In cases like this, you may make damage claims for medical bills and expenses, including treatment for PTSD. You may also make damage claims for wages lost from work. Both these can be for expenses and lost wages already incurred and for estimated expenses and lost wages in the future.
Importantly, if you are eligible to step out of no-fault in this way, you are also entitled to make a legal claim for compensation of noneconomic damages like pain and suffering. all these factors and some more will help determine what your claim is worth, for a better estimate speak to car accident attorney.
What to Do in the Wake of an Accident
It is the law in New York state to report an accident in which anyone was injured or killed to the police immediately. Not only must you report it to the police, but each driver involved in an accident is mandated to file a report with the state Department of Motor Vehicles.
The police report is not only the law; it’s important evidence of what happened. Make sure you get a copy of the report. If another party was negligent in causing the accident, the police report can be used as part of the proof.
It’s also important to seek treatment for any injuries right away. A doctor can assess you for injuries and recommend treatment, including for trauma.
If you have any further questions about PTSD and car accidents, contact an experienced car accident attorney today.