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Can a Car Accident Cause PTSD?

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Yes, a car accident, particularly a serious one, is an especially traumatic experience that can leave a survivor feeling devastated. Every person reacts and recovers from trauma differently. Two soldiers who hit an IED in the same Humvee can have very different injuries. One can be shaken for a few days and thankfully not suffer any long-term mental injury. Whereas the other, sitting right next to him, develops a long-lasting and serious mental injury known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD can affect car wreck survivors in many ways. For example, if you were injured or thought that you were going to die during the wreck, you might later suffer terrible fears just riding in a vehicle, creating an obstacle for you and your need to travel, whether it be to work, family events or just to the grocery store. It could trigger irrational and exaggerated fears of death and dying. These fears are often intrusive and uncontrollable, they manifest themselves in vivid nightmares, flashbacks, panic attacks and result in isolation or “hiding” from the triggers.

To make matters worse, some people don’t understand that PTSD is a “real” injury and that their loved one can’t just “think about something else.” PTSD can take a heavy toll on relationships. It can be hard to understand your loved one’s behavior—why they are less affectionate and more volatile. You may feel like you’re walking on eggshells or living with a stranger. You may have to take on a bigger share of household tasks, deal with the frustration of a loved one who won’t open up, or even deal with anger or disturbing behavior. The symptoms of PTSD can also lead to job loss, substance abuse, and other problems that affect the whole family. It’s hard not to take the symptoms of PTSD personally, but it’s important to remember that a person with PTSD often will not have control over their behavior. Your loved one’s nervous system is “stuck” in a state of constant alert, making them continually feel vulnerable and unsafe. This can lead to anger, irritability, depression, mistrust, and other PTSD symptoms that your loved one can’t simply choose to “turn off”.

If you or your loved one is suffering from PTSD due to a motor vehicle accident, this form of suffering is just as serious and compensable as the physical injuries that might be suffered, so do not neglect to talk about it with your doctor and attorney.

What Are the Signs of PTSD?

Although the symptoms of PTSD can manifest in several ways and no two people are alike, some signs are more common and widely experienced than others.

Some signs single-incident trauma survivors might experience include:

  • Re-experiencing the event: It is not uncommon for someone living with PTSD to relive the experience through nightmares and flashbacks. These intrusive and irrational visions might be so disruptive that they impact a survivor’s ability to maintain a normal sleep schedule.
  • Avoidance: Trauma survivors tend to avoid places, people, or situations that remind them of the incident that caused their PTSD. In this case, a car accident survivor might avoid getting into a vehicle at all costs.
  • Mood swings and a negative outlook: After enduring a traumatic event, some survivors become depressed and develop a negative or pessimistic view of the world. For example, a car accident survivor might perceive the world as an unsafe and perilous place.
  • Hyper-arousal: Someone suffering from PTSD might be anxious or nervous in response to things that did not previously cause these feelings.

Seeking Help for PTSD

If you or someone you love is dealing with PTSD, it is important to get the assistance of a qualified mental health professional. Please understand, there is no shame in seeking out help. PTSD is a real injury to your brain just as much as a fractured vertebra is a real injury to your spine. A good therapist will work hard to help you as you attempt to regain control of your life and overcome this injury. Sadly, as with any injury, PTSD can be a “chronic” condition. PTSD is defined as “Chronic PTSD” when the symptoms endure for more than 3 months. Even so, your therapist will continue to work with you to help you best manage the symptoms throughout your life. They may also be able to help your loved ones understand how to live with someone who suffers from chronic PTSD.

Contact Our Knowledgeable and Compassionate Personal Injury Team

If you were injured in a motor vehicle accident and developed PTSD, you need to act now to ensure the responsible party is held liable for your pain and suffering. At Cornell Injury Law, we work with our client as a “team” led by an attorney with more than 25 years of experience practicing serious injury law. We have a proven track record of successful results. We understand the many difficulties survivors face in the aftermath of a terrible car wreck and will do what it takes to fight for full justice. Full justice under the law is the fair value of what was taken from you and your family as the result of the negligence of a driver who carelessly failed to follow the rules of the road. There are no guarantees, but with us on your side, you can feel confident that you will receive the professional care and attention you and your family deserve in prosecuting your legal case.

Contact our personal injury team today to arrange a free initial consultation with our trusted attorney.

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