​What Happens if You Get PTSD After a Car Accident?

Published On: April 18, 2023
Categories: Car Accidents

When you think of car accident injuries, certain kinds come to mind, like neck injuries, back injuries, and broken bones. However, mental injuries are also common, especially for particularly traumatic collisions. PTSD is among the most common mental health issues that can arise after a car crash.

If you get PTSD after a car accident, you may file a claim for monetary recovery. A car accident attorney can help you navigate your case and obtain the most favorable outcome. No one should handle this process alone, especially when you already have other mental struggles from your car crash.

What Is PTSD?

PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, is a mental health disorder typically arising from experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event.

While it is common to have some trouble coping with feelings and emotions after a stressful event, many individuals can recover with time. Victims suffering from PTSD are different, as this mental health issue is severe and can interfere with day-to-day life for a prolonged period.

Many equate PTSD with war, and while veterans do often suffer from this mental health disorder, they are not the only ones who do. Other incidents besides active military duty can lead to PTSD. Suffering through any type of particularly overwhelming event can be enough to trigger post-traumatic stress disorder in anyone.

Signs of PTSD

If you’ve never experienced PTSD, you may be unsure what signs to look for. While everyone exhibits the disorder differently, the following are some of the most common symptoms of PTSD.

Intrusive Memories and Feelings

Intrusive memories, thoughts, and nightmares are normal after PTSD. They can arise at any time, making you feel sad, uncomfortable, or angry. These thoughts and memories can be triggered by things like going to or near the location of the traumatic event.

Negative Changes in Mood and Thoughts

Individuals who suffer from PTSD can often experience quick and negative shifts in their moods and thoughts. Moods and feelings can range from anger and sadness to numbness and hopelessness.


Avoidance can mean many things. Victims suffering from PTSD can tend to avoid many things, including people, places, and events. If the avoidant behaviors continue, this can easily lead to more serious issues, like phobias and severe anxiety.

Reliving the Incident That Caused the PTSD

For accidents and incidents that are particularly traumatic, reliving the event is common. This can happen at any time, whether in a dream or awake. It can cause the victim to feel overwhelmed and scared as if they are experiencing the event all over again.

Anxiety and/or Depression

PTSD, a mental health disorder, can also result in the development of other mental health issues, like anxiety and depression, over time.

Anxiety is a persistent feeling of uneasiness or fear. While some stress is normal at some point or another, anxiety causes you to live in a more constant state of panic. Everyone experiences anxiety differently, but it can cause psychological and physical symptoms like a restless mind, rapid heart rate, and nausea.

Depression is a mood disorder causing you to feel sad and listless. Sadness is a normal emotion, but when suffering from depression, it’s common to feel sadder and more low energy than normal.

While you can suffer from one and not the other, many often suffer from both anxiety and depression, which can cause a great interference in everyday life.


When you suffer from PTSD, it’s normal to want to isolate yourself from the rest of the world. This often stems from other symptoms of PTSD, like negative thoughts, panic attacks, anxiety, and depression.

Struggling with PTSD can feel isolating, causing you to want to retreat and keep to yourself.

Startling or Frightening Easily

Startling easily is often a sign of PTSD when the cause of your disorder arose from a particularly frightening event.

If you suffer from PTSD due to a car accident, certain sights and sounds, like speeding cars or screeching tires, can set you off.

Trouble Sleeping

Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep can occur for multiple reasons. Anxiety, another symptom of PTSD, can cause trouble falling asleep or may cause you to awaken in the middle of the night.

Sufferers of PTSD can also experience strange, scary, and vivid dreams, making it impossible to get a good night’s rest.

Physical Symptoms

Along with mental, emotional, and psychological symptoms, PTSD can also translate to physical symptoms, including:

  • Stomach pain
  • Chest pain
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Rapid heart rate

Some of these physical symptoms occur due to constantly elevated stress hormones, like cortisol, which can lead to many physical ailments.

Diagnosing PTSD

PTSD requires proper diagnosing. Not only will receiving a diagnosis provide better insight and understanding concerning your condition, but it is also necessary if you wish to pursue compensation for PTSD in a collision claim.

Diagnosing PTSD requires a doctor to perform:

  • A physical exam: More than anything, a physical exam will rule out any other causes of any bodily symptoms you may be experiencing.
  • A psychological evaluation: Your physician can ask questions regarding your symptoms and discuss the events that led to your physical and mental health troubles.They may use the criteria outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) publishes this manual to help physicians and mental health professionals determine whether a patient’s symptoms correlate to any diagnosable psychological disorder.

The signs and symptoms of PTSD can mimic those of other common conditions and disorders. It may require patience with your treating physician to get a formal diagnosis, but you know your body best—if you believe you suffer from PTSD, express your concerns.

Once you receive a diagnosis, you can discuss treatment options with your doctor. Treating PTSD is crucial to help improve your symptoms and encourage normalcy and routine.

Treatment for PTSD

Lawyer for Car Accident in New Port RicheySeeking the right treatment for PTSD is critical. Undiagnosed or untreated PTSD can result in more severe physical and mental symptoms. Signs of PTSD can develop and worsen over time without the proper treatment.

Some of the most common treatment options for PTSD include medication and psychotherapy.

The type of medication you need depends on the severity and symptoms of your PTSD. Commonly prescribed medications include anti-anxiety medications and antidepressants.

Different types of psychotherapy exist to treat patients’ needs.

Common kinds of therapy include:

  • Cognitive therapy: Cognitive therapy, or talk therapy, allows you to express yourself to a therapist and talk about your traumas to work them out.
  • Exposure therapy: Exposure therapy safely and effectively exposes you to things that trigger your PTSD, like sights, sounds, and locations. This type of therapy can be helpful if you deal with certain symptoms, like reliving the traumatic event and nightmares.
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR): This therapy combines exposure therapy with guided eye movements that help you better understand and process traumatic events and how you react to these situations.

Your doctor can determine the best course of treatment for you based on your PTSD symptoms. Going through some trial and error is common, as you may need to adjust your treatment to ensure you achieve the best results.

Why Do Car Accidents Cause PTSD?

Car accidents are often traumatic events. The sights, sounds, and experiences you face during a collision are enough to make anyone feel overwhelmed and extremely scared. Therefore, it’s not common for victims of car crashes to suffer from PTSD afterward.

It’s worth noting that symptoms of PTSD don’t always arise immediately after the traumatic event. Sometimes the signs of this mental disorder don’t arise until some time after the event, whether a few days or several weeks.

If you’ve experienced a car accident and feel you may be dealing with PTSD, do not wait to seek medical help from a qualified physician. Early intervention is critical to your health, quality of life, and the future of your collision claim.

How Does PTSD Affect a Car Accident Claim?

If you’re diagnosed with PTSD after a collision, always know this diagnosis can and should affect your claim and your overall compensation.

First and foremost, mental injuries are actual injuries. Aside from suffering physical harm, sustaining mental harm is also common after a car crash. Just like you can seek monetary recovery for your different types of injuries, you can include the damages you’ve sustained from your mental health issues, including PTSD.

Attempting to recover compensation also means gathering additional evidence and proving how your PTSD has affected your health and life. If you can successfully show you have PTSD after your accident, you can claim further compensation for your injuries and related losses.

Proving PTSD For Your Collision Claim

Simply claiming you have PTSD is not enough—you must also prove it.

Adding PTSD to your collision claim and seeking damages for the mental disorder requires establishing:

  • Your treating physician has formally diagnosed you with post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Your PTSD diagnosis arises from your car accident
  • Your accident-related PTSD has negatively impacted your life in one way or another

Evidence is necessary to successfully prove you have PTSD and that your PTSD stems from your collision. Additionally, you must show how and to what extent your PTSD affects your life.

Strong evidence can include:

  • Medical records
  • Doctor’s notes
  • Police reports
  • Expert testimony

An attorney for a car accident can review the details of your accident to determine what kind of evidence is best to successfully create the connection between your accident and post-traumatic stress disorder diagnosis.

Seeking Compensation for PTSD Due to a Collision

After an accident, you can pursue compensation for your injuries and losses, whether financial or non-financial.

When it comes to damages directly related to your PTSD, you can obtain financial recovery for your losses, including:

  • Medical bills, including doctor’s visits, medication, and therapy
  • Lost income
  • Emotional distress

Depending on your circumstances, you will also likely qualify for pain and suffering damages. However, these types of damages usually require physical injuries depending on state law. You can discuss the possibility of pain and suffering damages with your car accident lawyer for personalized advice.

How a Car Accident Lawyer Can Help You Recover Financially for PTSD After a Collision

Suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after a car accident is not only difficult on your mental and physical health but also on your finances. This is especially true if you sustain additional injuries along with your PTSD.

Handling a collision claim can be challenging for many reasons, and when you’re relying so heavily on a successful outcome, you don’t want to take any chances. An experienced car accident attorney can handle your claim from start to finish, fighting aggressively for justice and compensation on your behalf.

A car accident lawyer can do everything necessary to recover damages for your PTSD and other accident-related losses, including:

  • Investigating your case
  • Deciphering the cause of your collision
  • Determining who’s at fault for your car crash
  • Calculating your damages
  • Requesting and obtaining important evidence
  • Handling settlement negotiations

In addition to the above, your attorney will communicate with the insurance company, a critical part of car accident claims. Insurance companies are known to be difficult to deal with, which can be particularly true for PTSD claims.

Insurance companies will fight back on claims for mental health-related disorders, like PTSD, as they often believe these are not real injuries. Your car accident lawyer can protect your right to compensation.

If You Suffer from PTSD After a Car Crash, Consult a Car Accident Attorney Right Away

Christopher Dyer - Car Accident Attorney near New Port Richey, FL area
Christopher C. Dyer, Car Accident Lawyer in New Port Richey

PTSD is a recognizable injury after a car crash, do not let anyone tell you otherwise. While it can seem intimidating and confusing to pursue PTSD damages, an accident attorney can provide guidance and quality legal service.

After you sustain injuries, including PTSD, in a car accident, do not wait to consult with a personal injury law firm in New Port Richey. Time is limited to pursue compensation after a collision, but an attorney can handle your claim in a timely manner.