Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder After a Car Accident


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By Crispin Bateman

on Tuesday 30 April 2019


Woman looking depressed with motorway in background

There is no doubt that being involved in a serious car accident is an extremely frightening experience for everyone involved. The speed in which the events unfold combined with the lack of control can be particularly traumatic for many and even people who have managed to escape physically unharmed from a significant road traffic accident might later find themselves haunted by the memories.

As our understanding into mental health conditions grows, more and more consideration and attention has been given to the unescapable fact that many people unfortunately suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder following a car crash.

What is PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder is considered an anxiety disorder that occurs following a significant incident in someone’s life. Sufferers of PTSD often relive the harrowing experience in nightmares and hallucinations, causing them to become withdrawn.

While the specific symptoms of PTSD manifest themselves differently between sufferers, they tend to fall into three categories:

Re-experiencing

One of the more typical symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, re-experiencing is when the sufferer has vivid recollections of the event.

This can be both through visual mental hallucinations and nightmares, but also physical sensations such as feeling pain, uncontrollably sweating and feeling sick and shaking. Flashbacks which encompass multiple facets of these recollections are also common and can leave the sufferer shaken for a long time afterwards.

It is also typical for the victim to feel guilty regarding the incident, constantly analysing and replaying the situation in their mind to see if they could have done anything different to change the outcome.

Avoidance

Doing everything they can to distance themselves from the event and its memory is called avoidance. This is another regular symptom for PTSD sufferers who might stop visiting locations that remind them of the incident, keep away from the other people involved and change the subject often in fear that the current conversation might lead to questions or comments about the crash.

Avoidance can quickly lead to withdrawing from social situations and even manifest itself as agoraphobia where the sufferer stops leaving the house. In cases of PTSD from a car accident, it is fairly typical for the victim to refuse to get into another car or travel along the same road.

Hyperarousal

The feeling of being on edge is known as hyperarousal and occurs in many PTSD sufferers. They will find it difficult to relax and sleep and may become insomniacs or have increased irritability. Hyper-aroused people tend to have a very short temper and verbally lash out without really considering the consequences.

Other issues caused by PTSD

Unfortunately, PTSD sufferers aren’t limited to experiencing the symptoms described above but can fall into a number of other mental health issues such as depression and phobias. These can, in turn, drive them to try ‘fixes’ such as alcohol and drugs in an attempt to distance themselves from their trauma.

It is very important for those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after a car accident to receive the help they need, and this can often mean significant financial backing.

Claiming compensation for PTSD after a car accident

PTSD sufferers can fall into the trap of believing that they are not able to claim for compensation. It is quite normal to think that no one will believe you or to convince yourself that only physical injuries are deserving of financial recompense, but this is not the case.

Across the UK, courts are fully experienced in dealing with cases of PTSD and other mental trauma after a car accident. Your claim will be treated seriously and with the appropriate level of compassion by all involved. At Non-Fault Claims, our entire team are trained to deal with situations such as post-traumatic stress disorder and will behave with confidentiality, care and consideration throughout the process.

How do I know if I have PTSD after a road traffic accident?

If you think that you may be suffering with any form of shock after the accident, then we advise that you visit your GP to get the help you need. Importantly, the doctor will be able to assess you for the symptoms of shock after an accident and get you a diagnosis and some immediate help. Additionally, having a medical assessment that states you have been suffering from PTSD is strong evidence for making a claim for PTSD car accident compensation.

Don’t worry if some time has passed between the accident and your first visit to the doctor. The statute of limitations on making a claim for compensation is three years from the date of the accident, so if you have been unable to bring yourself to deal with the logistics of the incident until now, that’s fine.

Remember – the most important thing is for you to get better and while the compensation can help with that, it is also key that you receive the proper treatment as recommended by your GP. At all times, you should put your recovery first.

Can you get PTSD from a car accident if you were not the driver? Are you able to claim for compensation?

The trauma that leads to PTSD is not limited to the driver of the vehicle, and neither is the legal right to make a claim for compensation. If you were a passenger or even an onlooker, then you have been involved in a non-fault car accident and you will be entitled to appropriate compensation.

As post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental health issue, it is often the case that witnesses to the event also suffer, particularly if the crash proved fatal for one or more people. PTSD as a result of surviving or witnessing a fatal incident is not uncommon and is no less legitimate than any other claim.

PTSD in children after a car accident

Suffering PTSD hallucinations and other symptoms is not limited to adults. If a child has been involved in a car accident, then they might be suffering from PTSD equally to any adults.

If the child is very young and unable to explain their feelings, then there may be other signs that they are suffering from stress and anxiety that must be looked out for. If they suddenly find themselves unable to sleep or wake up crying more than is usual, if their behaviour changes and becomes violent or self-destructive, or if they avoid getting back into a car then they could very well be suffering and it is important that you take them to the doctor as soon as you are able to explain the situation.

If you are the parent or carer for the child, then you will be able to claim for compensation for their emotional trauma on their behalf. This can then be used to help them recover and live a normal happy life with the incident behind them.

Can you get PTSD after a minor car accident?

While PTSD is more common following a significant road traffic incident, it is not exclusive to those situations and for some, even a seemingly minor car accident can cause anxiety attacks and other symptoms that comprise PTSD.

As in all cases, it is important that you seek medical help and get a diagnosis for the condition, after which time a claim can be put forward,

How much compensation can you get for PTSD after a car accident?

As with physical personal injury claims, the courts use a set of guidelines to conform to a national standard for PTSD payouts. While this guideline does provide a base, the courts will also take into consideration the specifics of your case. Other factors that could result in additional financial compensation include:

  • The level of your suffering
  • The costs of replacing or repairing your vehicle
  • The costs of replacing any other lost items due to the crash
  • Expenses for medical treatment and consultancy
  • Living expenses incurred due to the loss of your vehicle
  • Costs for a replacement car
  • Expenses for any alterations needed in your home as part of adjustment
  • Loss of earnings

See our injury payout guide for guidelines on the sums for PTSD compensation.

Can I make a claim for PTSD compensation or anxiety after a car accident if I am also making a claim for physical injury at the same time?

If you have already initiated a claim with us for personal injury compensation and have subsequently been diagnosed with PTSD then you should let us know right away so that we can build a strong case with all the factors known.

It may be possible to make a claim for PTSD if your prior physical claim has already been settled, but it will depend on the exact terms of that settlement. In many cases, any settlement precludes opening a second claim for damages.

In any case, it is important that you let our team know as soon as you decide to make a mental health claim so that we can adjust any work in progress immediately.

How do I make a claim for PTSD compensation?

Once you have a diagnosis for post-traumatic stress disorder, you should contact us at Non-Fault Claims right away. Our team are experts in assessing all manner of road traffic accident claims and will be able to get back to you quickly regarding the viability of your claim.

At Non-Fault Claims, we operate on a no win no fee basis because we believe that everyone has the right to quality legal representation, no matter their background or financial situation. Under no win no fee, our services will cost you nothing until a final award has been given. We will then take a success fee which is a small percentage of that final award.

By working in this way, we have a vested interest in the outcome of the award and can guarantee that everyone involved will work to the top of their ability to secure the highest possible financial payout possible.

If you have been affected by post-traumatic stress disorder from a car accident that was not your fault and wish to pursue a claim for financial compensation, then give us a call today or fill out our contact form for one of our expert advisors to call you back at a convenient time.

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car accident injuries personal injuries personal injury claim PTSD post-traumatic stress disorder mental health