We’ve all heard of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and how serious it can be in instances of war and other high-stress conditions. PTSD after an accident and other traumatic events is entirely possible and should be watched for just as much as a physical condition. PTSD can play a significant role in the victim’s life and is often long-lasting and life-changing.
The question is if PTSD can be considered in legal cases as part of “pain and suffering.” Can it be capitalized on in a legal claim? What would it take to prove PTSD as true “pain and suffering” before a settlement or in court?
PTSD After an Accident
Many things happen following an accident. Crash victims could be experiencing pain in the form of broken bones and other physical injuries. You also need to file claims, fill out paperwork, hire attorneys, and more. The stress can become unbearable, and mental injuries that are either hiding or in plain view are in the middle of it all. The trauma of being in the accident itself can be enough to require counseling and other emotional and mental therapy treatments. Sometimes, PTSD is the result of experiencing trauma or large amounts of stress.
“Pain and Suffering” Defined
One can describe a straightforward approach to pain and suffering as:
- Physical pain and suffering – pain from actual physical damage and injuries. This includes the current pain and suffering the patient has had to date as well as what pain and suffering will happen in the future due to the physical injuries acquired during the accident.
- Mental pain and suffering – the victim may have been physically injured, but because of these physical injuries, mental pain occurred. Emotional distress, fear, anxiety, depression, and more can all be included in mental pain and suffering. Of course, mental pain and suffering also include the pain and suffering that will happen in the future because of the accident.
Risk Factors of Developing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Possible risk factors of developing PTSD after being in an auto accident can depend on many things like:
- Injuries sustained and their severity
- Mental health before the accident
- Reaction to the accident and traumatic event
- Previous stressful or traumatic experiences (especially like the current one)
Those victims that develop PTSD could require mental health therapy to help them move on with their life in a healthy way. These treatments are expensive and can add up quickly, but they are indispensable. If you do not obtain treatment, anxiety, depression, or even drug and alcohol addiction could result.
How Do You Know if You Have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?
After experiencing all that is involved in a car accident, you may soon realize that you may be experiencing signs of PTSD. As a result, you might find yourself unwilling to discuss the accident and avoid going to where it took place or seeing people surrounding it.
In reality, many of us don’t realize the possibility that an event several years ago can be being mentally traumatizing, causing us to think and live differently. Although we may think of trauma as a loved one dying in a horrific way or a debilitating physical injury, it can be much more. For example, it could be a car accident where you were the passenger or maybe a sudden divorce that left you sad and alone. All these things could cause you to experience PTSD. Some of the symptoms of PTSD that you could be experiencing are:
- Trouble sleeping
- Anxiety, fear, and constant worry
- Behavior changes
- Difficulty concentrating on tasks at hand
- Nightmares or flashbacks of the accident
PTSD can take time to appear after the accident, even taking three months or more, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. PTSD symptoms can flare up at times of intense stress or if you relive something that reminds you of the traumatic incident that you experienced.
When you’re in an accident due to no fault of your own, filing a claim for pain and suffering, including PTSD, could be an option. Even if you don’t experience PTSD symptoms immediately, you can still include it as an eligible claim if it appears later.
PTSD and other mental conditions are just as severe, if not more, than physical injuries like a broken bone. The problem that will arise when trying to claim for PTSD is that it is much more difficult to prove since you can’t see it like an x-ray or MRI scan.
An expert witness can help provide understanding and empathy towards PTSD and those who suffer from it. In addition, your expert can shed light on causes, symptoms, and the lasting effects this disorder can have on the victim’s life, including the ability to work, relationship strains, and the ability to live a normal life.
Hiring an attorney experienced in calling expert witnesses to assist in proving a case is merited, necessary, and justified is just one of the vital services the right attorney can provide in your case. Once the attorney offers ample examples of PTSD and how it affects everyday life, the judge will be able to make an informed decision.
Once PTSD is explained in detail to an insurance adjuster, opposing side, or jury, your attorney can demand payment for the pain and suffering PTSD has caused. Then, if it becomes necessary, they can take it all the way through the court system.
Hiring an Expert in Pain and Suffering
Although PTSD can be difficult to prove, the attorneys at Gainsburgh, Benjamin, David, Meunier & Warshauer, L.L.C. know how debilitating it can be every day. We believe that obtaining compensation for a mental condition is just as important as compensation for a physical ailment or injury.
Gainsburgh, Benjamin, David, Meunier & Warshauer, L.L.C. is ready to work hard to get you what you deserve so that you can heal physically and mentally from your car accident. Trust us to take care of you and your claim for PTSD after an accident. Call (504) 522-2304 for a free consultation to discuss the details of your case.