Can a Car Accident Cause PTSD?

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Most people associate car crash injuries with physical conditions such as broken bones and brain injuries. Not as many people appreciate the psychological and emotional trauma that can be inflicted upon a victim.

One such example of a car accident injury is post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. Suffering PTSD from a car accident is surprisingly common. But that doesn’t mean insurance companies recognize the severity of PTSD. In fact, they often try to downplay the effects of PTSD to deny accident victims the compensation they deserve.

If you’ve experienced PTSD after a car accident, you will need aggressive legal counsel to stand up for you. Trust the team of Greenville car accident attorneys at David R. Price, Jr., P.A. to hear your story and pursue compensation for your suffering.

What Are the Signs of PTSD After a Car Accident?

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a psychological condition that affects individuals who have witnessed or experienced a frightening, intensely stressful event. A study examining the prevalence of PTSD among traffic accident survivors found around 22% of people display the condition’s symptoms. If you or a loved one have been in a wreck, you should understand these common car accident PTSD symptoms:


Victims can face heightened levels of anxiety about getting back into a vehicle, either as a driver or a passenger. Even driving near the location of the accident can trigger feelings of anxiety.

Generalized anxiety is also common and may manifest itself as, for example, reluctance to be in social situations.


Closely related to anxiety, depression can also result from a serious car crash. Depression can interfere with one’s ability to work, eat, and live a normal life. If you are experiencing depression, it’s imperative that you seek medical attention so the situation doesn’t worsen.

Intrusive thoughts and memories

The victim may find it difficult to avoid thinking about the dramatic and perhaps graphic events surrounding the collision. Intrusive thoughts and memories can strike at any time and trigger anxiety attacks. Nightmares about the accident are common and can persist for months or years.

Sleep difficulties

Related to nightmares, they are one contributing factor to a broad category of sleep difficulties.

Insomnia is also common as individuals experience anxiety and general unease while trying to fall asleep. These troubles can affect the victim’s work performance and general quality of life.

Mood and behavioral changes

PTSD can present itself as mood changes that invite feelings of hopelessness, guilt, shame, and more. These emotions are sometimes associated with behavioral changes such as irritability, quick temper, paranoia, difficulty concentrating, and more. Both of these can radically alter the victim’s personality.

Suicidal thoughts

PTSD from a car accident can negatively affect a victim’s life. One of the more serious consequences is that it can cause victims to develop self-destructive behaviors, like suicidal thoughts and sometimes attempts. This is especially true if the victim has suffered particularly bad injuries, such as permanent disability.

Many of these symptoms overlap and interact with each other. If you experience any of the above, talk to your primary care physician right away.

How Long Might It Take to Get Over PTSD?

Every case of PTSD is different, and there is no such thing as a standard amount of time to either recover from it or to lessen the severity of its symptoms. One individual may only be affected for a few days or weeks, while another could suffer from it for years. You might even have to contend with and manage PTSD symptoms for the rest of your life.

The amount of time it may take for PTSD to improve will depend on a number of factors, including the nature of the accident, the victim’s injuries, the type and quality of treatment the victim receives, and the victim’s general personality and constitution. The key thing to bear in mind is that a medical professional can and should address your PTSD so you can get suitable treatment.

What Treatments and Therapies Can Help With PTSD From a Car Accident?

Remember, a doctor is the best person to diagnose and take care of your emotional and psychological conditions after a car accident. Since no two cases of PTSD are the same, your treatment regimen should be customized to your exact needs.

That may include:

  • Cognitive processing therapy: An approach by which a therapist identifies a victim’s negative thoughts, turns them into more positive impressions, and helps the victim challenge such thoughts when they arise later.
  • Exposure therapy: This involves confronting the events and things that make the victim think of the traumatic event, with the goal of decreasing the victim’s emotional reaction and making the trauma easier to manage.
  • Medication: A victim may only need temporary medication to treat depression and anxiety, but it can be prescribed for the long term if necessary.

Can PTSD Be Compensated?

Compensation is available for the emotional and psychological issues involved with PTSD. It should be noted, however, that seeking this compensation — part of a broad category known as non-economic damages — is more difficult than seeking money for medical bills, lost wages, and the like.

Attorneys representing insurance companies and negligent drivers try to cast doubt on the severity or even sincerity of the victim’s condition and will likely challenge any claim of PTSD.

The victim will first need a medical diagnosis from a doctor explaining his or her condition. This, along with medical records, will need to be admitted in court as evidence. An expert witness can develop the doctor’s testimony so he or she can explain to a jury, in precise detail, how the accident is linked with the victim’s emotional and psychological issues. This, in turn, helps substantiate the victim’s damages claim.

Our Auto Accident Attorneys Fight for PTSD Damages

Car crash victims deserve to be fully compensated for the harm inflicted upon them by a negligent driver, including PTSD. Although insurance companies often challenge and question these cases, developing expert witness testimony that is backed up by strong evidence could make settlement possible. Give our automobile accident lawyers in Greenville, SC, at David R. Price, Jr., P.A., a call today.


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