Can You Sue for PTSD After a Car Accident?
Sometimes, the longest-lasting injuries affect the mind, not the body. Developing Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after a motor vehicle accident is common, and it is possible to sue the at-fault driver after a diagnosis. However, a proper psychiatric diagnosis is critical when pursuing such a claim.
Physical injuries involve physical evidence, and their effects are much easier to prove. There are also the obvious medical expenses associated with a physical injury, which is not necessarily the case with PTSD. Psychological damage is usually less obvious, and may also not show up right after a collision. That means making the case for a PTSD diagnosis is more difficult, and requires representation by experts in the field who can devise compelling arguments for a PTSD lawsuit.
A Los Angeles personal injury lawyer at Ellis Injury Law understands how PTSD can affect a person’s life and will protect your rights. The statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit in California is generally two years from the date of the accident, but since PTSD is not always discernible right away, such a lawsuit requires filing within one year of the diagnosis date.
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What is PTSD?
By definition, PTSD results from trauma. A serious car accident, especially if it involved severe injuries or fatalities, is certainly a traumatic experience. Even car accidents in which no one was badly injured can trigger PTSD in some people. Any sudden, violent event is often a precursor to PTSD.
It is not unusual for those involved in car accidents to suffer anxiety and depression after the crash. They may run the events over and over again in their minds, but eventually, these strong feelings dissipate and the emotional and psychological impact of the accident lessens. That is not what happens with people experiencing PTSD after a crash. Rather than get better with time, these symptoms worsen and affect the person’s ability to lead a normal life or hold a job.
Suspect PTSD after a car accident if the person displays the following symptoms:
- Excessive worry
- Fear of riding in or driving a car
- Constantly reliving the accident
- Nightmares or insomnia
- Developing eating disorders
- Irritability or mood swings
- Personal, family and business relationship disruption
- Using alcohol or drugs to cope with their emotions
A person struggling with PTSD may also harbor suicidal thoughts, and any such indication requires immediate medical intervention. Anyone with PTSD symptoms should seek treatment as soon as possible.
If a person has previously dealt with PTSD, the auto accident can cause the issue to flare up again. In such instances, although the car crash may not have been the primary reason the individual has PTSD, is it a relevant factor.
To prove a person has developed PTSD after a car accident includes providing expert testimony from a qualified physician. This would not involve a family doctor or general practitioner, but a medical professional specializing in psychological disorders.
A Los Angeles personal injury lawyer can help clients dealing with PTSD find a psychiatrist or neurologist to evaluate them. These experts can offer testimony as to the patient’s condition and long-term prognosis.
Keep in mind that when a claim involves PTSD, the insurance company may have its own experts to examine the patient and make their own determination. Thus the case may devolve into an “expert battle,” either with the insurance company or in a jury’s decision-making process.
Quantifying damages for a person diagnosed with PTSD is more complicated than when dealing with physical injuries. Your lawyer is familiar with the fair settlement value of cases in which a mental or psychological disorder is involved.
Damages for PTSD may include:
- Medical expenses, current, and future
- Lost wages if unable to work
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional anguish
Contact a Los Angeles car accident lawyer
If you or a family member experience PTSD after a motor vehicle accident caused by another driver’s negligence, contact a Los Angeles car accident lawyer at Ellis Injury Law. Schedule a free consultation by filling out our online contact form or calling or texting 24/7.
Our dedicated attorneys have recovered more than $350 million in settlements and verdicts for our clients, and we will fight so that you receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Because we work on a contingency basis, there is never a fee unless we win.