Can You Claim Compensation for PTSD After a Car Accident?
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A car accident does not just affect your body. Nearly 40% of car accident survivors develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
There is no cure for it, and some people experience symptoms for the rest of their life. Because PTSD can be just as harmful as physical injuries, victims are entitled to compensation for PTSD.
If you’re not sure if your personal injury case qualifies for damages, consider these factors.
Look for Indicators of Trauma
PTSD originates from traumatic incidents where a person feels like their life is in danger. Any car accident can threaten a person’s health and trigger a case of the disorder. Yet some car accidents are more likely to spark the disorder than others.
A 2020 study conducted in 26 countries found that people who sustained serious physical injuries were more likely to develop PTSD than people without major injuries. The more serious your injuries are and the longer your recovery is, the higher your risk is.
Previous experience with traumatic events can increase your likelihood of PTSD after a car accident. However, it may be hard to tell if your condition originated from a recent accident or previous events.
Regardless, you may still be able to recover compensation for the most recent experience if your symptoms worsened or become more severe.
Recognize the Symptoms of PTSD
Most people develop PTSD within three months of their traumatic event. To meet the criteria, your symptoms must last for at least one month.
At least one symptom must impede your daily life in some way. There are four categories of symptoms that you must have.
You must have one re-experiencing symptom. You may have flashbacks, reliving the car accident and feeling what you were feeling during the collision. While you sleep, you may have nightmares about what happened, and you may have distressing thoughts when you wake up.
All people with the condition have one avoidance symptom. You may go out of your way to avoid the location where you had your accident. Some people avoid driving entirely.
You must have two or more arousal or reactivity symptoms. Some people feel startled or on edge constantly. Other people have trouble concentrating, falling asleep, or controlling their impulses.
You must also experience at least two cognition and mood symptoms. Many people have difficulty remembering what happened during the accident. They may develop negative thoughts about themselves or feel persistent fear and anxiety.
Symptoms of PTSD can last for a year or longer. You may develop co-occurring conditions like depression and anxiety disorders as well. Continue to monitor your symptoms after you get diagnosed, so you have a complete understanding of your mental health.
Seek Professional Medical Treatment
You can get compensation for PTSD even if you do not have a physical injury. However, you need a proper evaluation to show that you have developed this disorder.
You need a formal diagnosis from a psychiatrist. They can write a report describing your symptoms and mentioning the connection between your disorder and the accident.
Only you can speak about your thoughts and feelings, so you will need to provide a witness statement. Describe what you felt and thought before, during, and after the accident. Make it clear how your mind has changed and what the impact of your disorder is on your life.
You should also keep any documents related to your medical treatments. If you are on a prescription, keep the bill or prescription paper for your medication. If you are pursuing ongoing therapy, get a document from your psychiatrist describing your treatments.
Get documents about the accident itself. You can obtain statements from first responders and witnesses. If you needed repairs to your car, provide the receipt for your repairs.
The state of California gives you two years to file a personal injury claim. Take your time, and don’t let the stress of your case affect your recovery. If you have questions, talk to an accident lawyer with experience in car accident law.
Establish Total Damages and Compensation for PTSD
You can claim both special and general damages after a car accident. Special damages are easier to calculate and determine, as they come from your medical bills and lost wages. Damages also relate to mental anguish and loss of enjoyment in life, which is not as clear to determine.
For PTSD, you can claim the cost of your therapy and medication. Obtain receipts and medical bills to prove that you have lost money. If you missed work, you can use pay stubs and tax forms to show how much you lost.
Keep in mind that you can claim damages for all injuries and economic losses related to your accident. If you broke an arm and needed treatment, you can claim money for your broken arm and your mental health.
Yet you may be able to claim a substantial amount from general damages. Use your witness statement to explain how your disorder has changed your relationship with your family and friends.
Link your symptoms to your life changes. Your avoidance symptoms may cause you to miss family events, or your cognitive changes may affect your work performance. The more direct you are, the easier your case can be.
There is no average amount of compensation for PTSD cases because compensation amounts vary from person to person. But you can claim enough money to cover your treatment as long as you have good medical documents.
Get Compensation for PTSD
Anyone can develop an injury or ailment after any type of car accident. But you are at higher risk if you or others got injured. Symptoms may surface a few months after the accident.
To claim compensation for PTSD, you need to link your condition to the accident. You also need to calculate how much money you spent and describe how your disorder has changed your life. Obtain medical paperwork and prepare a detailed testimony.
An experienced personal injury attorney can help ease this process. Angeleno Accident Lawyers provides quality representation and has helped clients throughout the city of Los Angeles. Contact us today for a free consultation.