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Is Post-Traumatic Stress Linked to Auto Accidents?

Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran

A serious motor vehicle accident is a traumatic event. If you have been involved in an auto accident, you may suffer post-traumatic stress as one of the consequences of the accident, alongside physical injuries and other economic and non-economic damages.

According to scientific studies, individuals who have experienced a serious traffic accident are at increased risk for severe psychological problems, including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Despite its predominant association with military combat, PTSD extends equally to natural disasters, sexual assaults, and car accidents, according to the National Center for PTSD. According to a study by the American Psychological Association, car accident victims are the most likely group to experience PTSD in the United States.

Another influential study from the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease suggests that with the millions of Americans involved in a car crash annually, some 39% develop PTSD. It is, therefore, possible to link post-traumatic stress to an auto accident. If you think you have PTSD following a motor vehicle accident, you should see a mental health professional to discuss your treatment options.

If your PTSD diagnosis is the result of an accident that occurred because of another’s driver’s negligence, speak to an auto accident attorney about pursuing damages for pain and suffering. Mental health care can be costly and financial compensation can help you access the services you need.

Symptoms of PTSD

When you’ve been in an accident, it is normal to experience feelings of shock, disorientation, anger, nervousness, fear, and guilt, even if you were not driving negligently or were responsible for the accident. These feelings are likely to subside over time.

However, where they persist and, instead of diminishing, expand into feelings of continuous unease, fear of getting into a vehicle, irritability or excessive worry and anger, or insomnia, you may be suffering from post-traumatic stress. Allowed to develop unfettered, post-traumatic stress can take on the contours of a full-blown mental health disorder that can be challenging to overcome.

The symptoms of PTSD may present themselves as soon as one month following the traumatic event, but in other cases, they can take years to manifest and become apparent. There are some of the key indicators that you might be experiencing post-traumatic stress:


Symptoms of avoidance can look like an unwillingness to discuss the auto accident. It may also mean the individual avoids places, people, or activities (such as getting into a car) that they associate with the event.

Intrusive Memories

People with PTSD often experience memories that are unwanted and surface at inopportune times. They might have flashbacks, reliving the event as though it’s happening again, or they may have a strong reaction when something reminds them of it. Intrusive memories can also appear in the form of nightmares.

Negative Mood and Thoughts

PTSD can cause a shift in mood and thought patterns, leading to negative thoughts about themselves and of the world around them. They may become detached, numb, have memory problems, or be hopeless about the future.

Altered Emotional and Physical Reactions

Physical and emotional reactions that are out of the ordinary can also signify PTSD. This could be scaring easily, difficulty concentrating, trouble sleeping, or self-destructive behavior such as sabotaging personal relationships.

If you think you’re experiencing potential symptoms of PTSD, see your family physician immediately.

Post-Traumatic Stress is a Personal Injury

PTSD can arise directly from the experience of an accident, or the experience of the injuries suffered as a result. It, therefore, counts as a personal injury that can and should be taken into account if you are considering filing a personal injury claim, as you may be able to recover compensation for it.

However, this kind of claim can be more challenging to prove than physical injuries. PTSD can be difficult to identify, and making a claim without evidence will likely lead to the defense in a civil lawsuit dismissing your claim. Insurance companies may also dismiss a claim if you cannot provide hard proof of the injury.

Therefore, you must secure a diagnosis or corroborating testimony, at a minimum, from a qualified mental health professional who can confirm that you are or have been suffering from the disorder. In addition, the medical professional may be called to testify on your behalf, so ensure you keep all medical records related to your accident, including diagnoses and ongoing treatments.

PTSD can have a serious impact on your daily life, preventing you from going about your business as usual and making simple tasks challenging, including going to work. In this case, you are likely to be suffering economic losses from loss of income as well.

Therefore, if you are diagnosed with PTSD, you deserve full compensation if your accident was the result of another driver’s negligent actions. In addition, you may not have sufficient insurance coverage for your mental health treatment with the auto insurance option you have chosen under Michigan’s new no-fault laws. In this case, you should consider a claim for compensation for your suffering, losses, and the mental pain incurred by post-traumatic stress.

Post-Traumatic Stress

Justice for Auto Accident Victims with PTSD

Our car accident lawyers have many years of experience helping victims of auto accidents get back on their feet. Your no-fault option coverage may not suffice if you have experienced post-traumatic stress due to an auto accident.

At Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C., our track record of results securing compensation for victims and bringing those at fault to justice speaks for itself. Seek recovery from post-traumatic stress and contact us for a free consultation. We may be unable to relieve your symptoms, but we can remove the additional headache of finance-related stress at this difficult time by handling your claim for you.

Contact us at 866-MICH-LAW to schedule a free, confidential consultation.

Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.

Clark Hayward holds a Ph.D. in Critical & Political Theory from the University of London and has a background in speech writing, editing, and translation. His multilingualism provides a strong foundation for legal translation work, ensuring language specificity.



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