When you are involved in a motor vehicle accident, the last thing you might be concerned with is the emotional and psychological effects that it can have. Many times, the physical pain, soreness, swelling and bruising are hard to ignore and immediate medical attention is required in order to heal your body.
It’s common to think only of the physical injuries that can occur with car accidents, but injuries aren’t always physical. What is often overlooked following serious motor vehicle accidents is an increased risk for psychological trauma such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD can develop after any type of traumatizing event, and car accidents — especially violent ones — can certainly be traumatizing enough to cause PTSD and other mental trauma.
Car accident trauma symptoms
When someone survives a traumatic crash or other event, it is difficult to predict the long-term emotional side effects. Not every person will suffer from emotional distress serious enough to require professional medical treatment.
However, some car accident survivors go on to experience severe emotional trauma which can result in many life-affecting symptoms that could be related to a brain injury. After being involved in a serious car accident, survivors have reported experiencing feelings of:
- Panic attacks
- Mood swings
- Chronic fatigue or exhaustion
- Loss of appetite
Often, car accident survivors find themselves reliving the accident through nightmares and flashbacks. These symptoms can be debilitating and cause the sufferer to become avoidant, to withdraw themselves socially and to isolate themselves from their family, friends and work.
Sometimes, the emotional trauma of the accident can render them unable to drive, or even be a passenger in a vehicle, out of fear of being involved in another accident.
The emotional trauma of catastrophic injuries
Take the story of Tara Rahmani.
Tara was a typical 25-year-old graduate student when she was hit by a car while crossing the street in Washington, D.C. Her life changed in an instant.
Tara’s injuries were so severe that the first responders on the scene were shocked to find her alive, and doctors in the trauma unit said she likely wouldn’t make it.
But, she did.
In addition to her severe facial and bodily injuries, Tara suffered emotionally through this traumatic time as she waited by herself for hours until her parents arrived from out of town. During the course of her intensive surgeries and months of treatment, she leaned on her family and the nurses who cared for her to learn how to walk again and regain the positive outlook she’s known by.
Though doctors anticipate a full recovery, they told Tara that it may take up to a year and a half until she gets her short-term memory back and starts to feel more like her old self.
While Tara’s physical injuries were indeed painful and gruesome, the invisible emotional and mental pain and suffering she experienced—and continues to experience—as a result of the wreck will take years to heal, if they ever do. Such trauma also requires treatment, care and is deserving of compensation.
The mental toll of tragic accidents
In another case, this one handled by Scholle Law, our team received a call from the family of a woman who had been killed in a fatal car wreck. The woman’s teenage daughter had been driving at the time of the crash and the police report indicated that she had failed to yield to oncoming traffic at a busy intersection, resulting in a T-bone collision with a commercial van.
All the initial evidence seemed to point that our client’s daughter was at fault for the crash that ended her mother’s life, which caused the daughter to experience tremendous emotional pain and suffering due to the guilt she felt.
Despite everything working against us, our team was determined to continue our investigation into the accident by examining every piece of evidence. In doing so, we discovered that the commercial van driver had been speeding and possibly driving distracted. This new evidence changed the liability issue completely, and we were successfully able to argue that the jury would find the commercial driver primarily at fault for the wreck and the death of our client’s loved one.
This ruling, which provided a $2 million settlement to the family for their loss, more importantly delivered much-needed emotional relief to our client and his daughter, who had been carrying significant guilt.
Cases such as these underscore the importance of taking emotional and mental pain seriously, and including this anguish in calculations when negotiating a full and fair settlement or damage award.
Importance of getting treatment for physiological trauma after a car accident
These feelings may arise immediately after the accident, or in the days, weeks or even months following. It’s common to not fully realize that you have been emotionally affected by a traumatic event until some time has passed, especially if you are preoccupied with following the course of treatment prescribed by the healthcare professionals focused on healing your physical body.
If you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident and any of these symptoms have begun to interfere with your normal, everyday life, then it might be time to seek professional help.
Thankfully, there are many effective treatments for stress-related trauma. It is important that you reach out to your doctor or mental health professional to discuss your symptoms and the possible treatment plans that can help you return to your daily life.
Should I settle, or should I sue?
Were you or a loved one recently injured in a car accident?
Perhaps you’ve already filed an insurance claim, but you don’t feel as though the offer you’ve been given is fair. The insurance company might be willing to pay for part or all of your medical expenses related to your physical injuries, but what about your psychological trauma and pain and suffering? You’re stuck at an impasse in the settlement negotiation phase, and now you don’t know what to do.
Above all, remember this:
Never accept a low settlement offer just because you want this whole thing to be over or because you don’t know what you can do to make the insurer budge.
You do have options — namely, filing a car accident lawsuit with the help of an experienced personal injury lawyer. If the other side refuses to negotiate or offer a fair settlement that includes compensation for your emotional trauma, then it might be necessary to file a lawsuit.
Legal options for victims of traumatic car crashes
When an accident occurs, the injured person deserves to be compensated for their losses. This can include medical treatment, the cost of future medical care, lost wages if the injury prevents them from going to work and even pain and suffering for the emotional distress experienced as a result of the collision.
The mental and emotional harm that car accident victims endure is real and should not be ignored.
At Scholle Law, we believe that victims of auto accidents deserve to recover from ALL of the injuries they sustain, even the ones that don’t get talked about. We are here to help you. If you’re struggling with your emotional injuries and paying for professional treatment, get help from a top-rated Duluth personal injury attorney.