Yes. In fact, emotional trauma and stress disorders related to car accidents are common, but not well studied. That means there are a lot of misconceptions about PTSD and car accidents, sometimes even among professionals. But car accident victims can and do develop PTSD in some cases—and so can the people who witness serious accidents.
In this article, we’ll cover:
- Signs you may have PTSD from your car accident
- How PTSD can be treated
- Whether your insurance claim will cover your PTSD treatment
To be clear, the majority of car accident victims do not go on to develop PTSD symptoms. And it’s impossible to predict which victims will or won’t develop these symptoms—even in a severe crash, not everyone will. But it’s common enough that more experts are paying attention, and you deserve to get the treatment and recovery options you need.
Symptoms of PTSD After a Car Accident
PTSD typically carries a number of symptoms which may be physical, mental, and behavioral. A typical PTSD patient will not show all the symptoms, but will have a number of symptoms from at least two categories. These include:
Physical PTSD Symptoms
- Sudden weight loss or weight gain
- Insomnia or, alternatively, fatigue and sleeping more than usual
- Ongoing physical pain, often with no clear cause
Mental PTSD Symptoms
- Disorientation or confusion
- Inability to make decisions, or gets irritable when having to make a decision
- Difficulties with memory
- Difficulty concentrating on a task
Behavioral PTSD Symptoms
- Sudden outbursts
- Blaming yourself for what happened
- Feeling ashamed
- “Survivor’s Guilt”—especially if someone else was harmed in the accident
- Suicidal thoughts and/or self-harming behaviors
- Violent thoughts
- General irritability or agitation
And, when the cause of PTSD was a car accident, you are also likely to experience a fear of driving in general or at least a fear of taking the same route.
Again, you do not have to display all of these symptoms to have PTSD. But if you notice several of them in yourself or a loved one, it may be worth it to talk to a professional.
What help is available for PTSD sufferers?
The first step in any car accident case is to get immediate medical attention if needed. Even minor physical injuries deserve to be looked at by a doctor. Your family physician or the ER can also refer you to a good therapist if you are experiencing emotional trauma.
Remember that most car accident victims will have stress and emotional trauma at first, but many will recover from that within months. This is why it’s so helpful to see a therapist for even just a few casual sessions early on. Your therapist can help you determine if you are moving past your trauma at a normal pace, and help you deal with it in the healthiest way possible.
If you seem to be at risk of PTSD or another long-term trauma reaction, any of the following may be recommended:
- Ongoing weekly or bi-weekly therapy sessions. In particular, a type of therapy known as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is extremely effective at dealing with trauma and helping patients overcome the symptoms of stress disorders.
- Psychiatric help may involve prescribing medication that can help you manage your stress and mood.
- PTSD treatment centers are among the most effective ways of making lasting changes without medication. These centers provide you with a temporary “escape” from the stress of regular life where you focus on moving forward with your PTSD recovery using a variety of cutting-edge therapies. They are also known as “PTSD rehab.”
And, simply staying connected to those you love is also recommended—including seeing friends, pursuing your hobbies, and attending the events you used to attend. One huge risk for car accident-related PTSD sufferers is avoiding use of the car, or of any vehicle, and ultimately becoming social reclusive—which tends to make things worse. The more you can go out and see loved ones, the better.
Will insurance pay for my PTSD treatment?
It depends on what happened.
In Georgia, in order to make a car accident claim for PTSD, you must have suffered a physical injury of some kind. If your PTSD is related to that physical injury then it is covered by your claim. Otherwise, it’s not. In practice that means:
- Victims injured in the car accident CAN make a claim for PTSD
- Witnesses traumatized by seeing the accident CANNOT make a claim for PTSD unless they were also injured
That means that most, but not all, cases of car accident PTSD are covered by one of the driver’s insurance policies. But remember: insurers are not quick to pay out on these kinds of claims. They will act skeptical and they will try to talk down your claim as something less serious than it is. This is why it’s so important to have a car accident lawyer handle your claim for you.
If you were not injured, you may still be able to get your PTSD treatment covered from a different source. For example, if you have health insurance of your own (perhaps through an employer), there’s a good chance that insurance will cover at least part of your PTSD treatment costs.
We Can Help You with Your PTSD Accident Claim
You don’t have to try to deal with the insurance companies on your own, and you don’t have to settle for less than you deserve. Our legal team has over 20 years of experience helping those who were traumatized in accidents. Let us help you—and give you a FREE consultation. Call us at (404) 341-6555 or fill out the form to the right to get your free consultation today.