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PTSD After a Car Accident

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A car accident may leave victims suffering more than just physical injuries. The trauma from the accident can cause severe and long-lasting psychological harm. A study by the National Library of Medicine (NIH) found that over 22 percent of victims of motor vehicle accidents were left coping with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

In Alabama, it is possible to recover compensation for mental trauma resulting from a motor vehicle accident. It all starts with one simple, free step: Come talk to us at Norris Injury Lawyers. Our skilled and compassionate legal team has been helping traumatized car accident victims get the justice they deserve for over 40 years.

If you or a loved one is experiencing PTSD following a car accident, there is no need to feel ashamed. You have rights, and we can help you protect them. We offer all potential clients a free case review, so do not hesitate to contact our law firm today. Schedule yours by calling us at (800) 477-7510, starting a live chat, or filling out a contact form.

What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that people may develop after witnessing or experiencing a scary, dangerous, or shocking life event.

Examples of traumatic events that cause PTSD include:

    • Experiencing military combat
    • Surviving a natural disaster
    • Being physically attacked
    • Experiencing a violent animal attack
  • Being a victim of medical malpractice
  • Being involved in a motor vehicle accident
  • Witnessing a violent attack or wrongful death

It is natural for anyone to experience shock or fear after a traumatic situation. However, if you are still feeling stress and fear in the months following the accident, this could be a symptom of PTSD.

The Link Between PTSD and Car Accidents

The sudden and violent impact of a vehicle hitting you is a stressful and traumatic experience for most anyone. Some drivers may blame themselves for the incident even when they were not at fault.

Another factor that could contribute to PTSD is losing control of your vehicle. The loss of control over their own safety can cause car accident victims to feel defenseless and helpless.

Drivers are not the only ones who may suffer from PTSD; passengers also may be left traumatized. Paramedics, other drivers, and bystanders who were present at the time of the accident could also develop symptoms due to witnessing the traumatic event or its aftermath.

Factors That Increase the Chances of PTSD Following an Alabama Car Accident

While all victims of motor vehicle accidents are at risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder, the following factors increase the risks:

  • A history of prior trauma
  • A lack of family or social support following the car accident
  • The car accident was life-threatening
  • The accident resulted in the death of a loved one
  • A history of other psychological disorders
  • A family history of psychological issues

Symptoms of PTSD After a Motor Vehicle Accident

According to the American Psychiatric Association, post-traumatic stress disorder is indicated when symptoms that fit into the following four categories last longer than a month and interfere with a person’s daily functioning.


An Alabama car accident victim may experience intrusive memories or consistently relive the incident. This can manifest in various forms, including:

  • Scary or distressing thoughts
  • Flashbacks to the trauma of the event
  • Nightmares about the car accident
  • Involuntary memories of the crash


At times, the trauma of a car accident leads to a compulsion to avoid situations, people, and events that remind the victim of the collision or the pain it caused. Examples of avoidance behaviors following a motor vehicle collision may include:

  • Refusing to travel in a vehicle
  • Finding ways to avoid driving
  • Avoiding the location of the accident
  • Withdrawing from people who trigger memories of the collision
  • Refusing to think or talk about the accident


Another sign of PTSD is a change in thoughts, personality, and behavior. A person with PTSD may experience negative thoughts, feelings, and moods. Signs may include:

  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Difficulty recalling details of the accident
  • Negative thoughts about themselves or the world
  • Paranoia
  • Misplaced guilt about the event
  • Inability to trust family or friends
  • Feelings of detachment from others
  • Self-loathing
  • Inability to experience happy emotions


A victim of PTSD may experience a variety of negative reactions while struggling with his or her symptoms.

This may include:

  • Self-destructive behaviors
  • Nightmares
  • Irritability
  • Concentration issues
  • Angry outbursts
  • Insomnia
  • Startling easily
  • Panic attacks

Signs of PTSD in Children

Sadly, it is not only adults but also children who may experience trauma from a car accident. Stressful events could affect how a child thinks, feels, and behaves, and the symptoms of PTSD could impact his or her relationships and activities. Thus, it’s vital for parents to be aware of the signs of PTSD so they can get their children the help they need as quickly as possible.

Signs may show up differently, depending on the child’s maturity and age:

  • Ages 5 and below: Wetting the bed, shaking or trembling, separation anxiety, sleep problems, and thumb sucking
  • Ages 6-11: Irrational fears, problems at school, loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities, stomach or headaches, feelings of guilt for things that were not their fault, and angry outbursts
  • Ages 12-17: Signs of depression, irritability, aggression, self-destructive behaviors, flashbacks to the accident, substance abuse, lack of positive emotions, and suicidal thoughts

What Help is Available to a Child With PTSD?

It is important to take a proactive approach to a young person’s mental health after a car accident or another traumatic event. If parents suspect their child may be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, the first step they will want to take is to speak with a health care provider to conduct an evaluation.

Each child reacts to trauma differently and his or her treatment plan should be personalized according to his or her individual needs.

Support for a child with PTSD may include:

  • Support from close family members and friends
  • Individual or group therapy
  • Learning coping skills to handle negative thoughts and harmful behavior
  • Prescriptions for antidepressants or other medications
  • Substance abuse recovery

Is It Possible to File a Claim for PTSD Damages?

Yes, it is possible to recover money for damages related to PTSD following a car accident. Depending on who was at fault for the accident, you may be able to file a claim with the other party’s insurance company.

Available compensation following an Alabama car accident may include:

  • Medical expenses: This could include costs for psychological care, including therapy and assessments to diagnose your PTSD
  • Lost wages: Reimbursement for time away from work as a result of physical and psychological medical conditions suffered as a result of the car accident
  • Pain and suffering: These damages are designed to compensate for the pain, anguish, and emotional discomfort experienced due to the accident
  • Emotional distress: Compensation for sleep loss, anxiety, fear, and other ways the traumatic event has impacted your daily life
  • Mental anguish: This compensates for feelings of hopelessness, depression, fright, and other psychological effects of the car accident

The Challenges of Recovering Compensation for PTSD

At Norris Injury Lawyers, our legal team firmly believes that those suffering from PTSD following a car accident deserve compensation. Unfortunately, recovering damages associated with PTSD is not always as easy as it should be.

Some challenges car accident victims may face when trying to recover damages for PTSD may include:

  • Proving the impact of the disorder: While physical injuries have a visible impact on car accident victims, PTSD is a mental disorder and the effects of it are not always immediately apparent to others
  • Getting an official diagnosis: In order to be eligible for compensation, you must receive an official diagnosis of PTSD from a credible medical professional
  • Connecting PTSD to the accident: In addition to a PTSD diagnosis, your lawyer will also need to prove that your psychological condition is a direct result of the motor vehicle accident
  • Determining the value of the claim: Unlike the tangible expenses associated with physical injuries, the debilitating emotional and other long-term effects of PTSD may not be easy to quantify

Schedule a Free Case Review With Norris Injury Lawyers Today

If you or someone you love is suffering from PTSD that resulted from a motor vehicle accident, our law firm is here to help. While these types of cases can be challenging, our skilled and compassionate personal injury attorneys have successfully represented many accident victims with PTSD. During your initial consultation, we can help determine whether you have a valid claim for compensation and then get to work building a solid case on your behalf.

At Norris Injury Lawyers, we care about our clients and believe that everyone deserves skilled legal representation regardless of their current financial situation. We are proud to offer all our clients our No Fee Guarantee®. This is our promise that, if we don’t win your case, you won’t owe us anything.

When you choose Norris Injury Lawyers to handle your claim, you can have confidence that a skilled legal representative will be by your side through every stage of the legal process. Call us 24/7 or start a live chat with our online representative to schedule a free case consultation.