How Common is PTSD After an Automobile Accident?

Is it possible for a civil injury lawyer to seek compensation for wounds that can be felt, but not seen? Is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) common following automobile accidents? The answer to both of these questions is a resounding "yes." Indeed, a large number of automobile accident survivors experience PTSD in the days, weeks, months, and years following a collision. PTSD is an injury that can linger and last for decades after the dust settles and a settlement is reached.

Studies conducted within the United States show that PTSD occurs in between 25-33% of automobile accidents. Conservative studies conducted in the early 1990's estimated that between 2.5 to 7 million individuals were affected by PTSD following an automobile accident. There are many reasons for this wide range including lack of visibility, the fact that PTSD can appear months and years following an accident, and a general unwillingness of accident victims to acknowledge that they are suffering from PTSD. While federal agencies and law enforcement are aware that PTSD is common following accidents, as of 2017, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, National Institutes of Health, and other federal agencies have not dedicated significant resources and studied the subject in great detail.

There are several factors that can predispose an individual to experience PTSD in an automobile accident. These include previous traumatic events including automobile accidents, rape, and combat injuries. Similarly, those with a family history of psychological disabilities including depression and dementia, as well as physical and/or emotional isolation are at greater risk of developing PTSD. The severity of the accident is also significant. Individuals who survive accidents that cause severe injuries or fatalities are at greatest risk of experiencing PTSD.

Symptoms of automobile accident related PTSD include feelings of anxiety and depression. Many individuals feel "on edge" and lose their ability to engage in and enjoy hobbies, activities, and work. As the symptoms of anxiety and depression increase, they become part of a downward spiral that reinforces the individual's sense of isolation and hopelessness. Prompt psychological counseling and the development of a treatment plan can ease the individual's symptoms and facilitate recovery.

There are many effective treatments for PTSD. These include cognitive-behavioral therapy, intensive counseling, and the prescription of Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI's.) SSRI's are antidepressant medications that regulate serotonin levels within the brain. This helps to regulate the patient's mood and makes it possible to control symptoms of depression and anxiety so that the individual can return to work and engage in activities and hobbies the same way they did prior to the automobile accident.

Individuals and their civil injury lawyer can pursue claims for PTSD treatment following an automobile accident. For instance, claims may be pursued for medical expenses related to counseling sessions and prescription medications. Individuals may also pursue claims for lost wages and long-term earning capacity caused by the effect of the PTSD on the individual's ability to work. In all cases, the pursuit of these claims needs to be supported by evidence that establishes the necessity of treatment and the patient's prognosis. This helps determine how long the treatment will be necessary and the long-term financial impact treatment will have on the individual.

Brad Pistotnik Law is a civil injury lawyer that represents clients experiencing PTSD in Topeka, Kansas City, Wichita, and cities throughout Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Illinois. Clients who have experienced automobile accidents on I-70, I-35, US 50, 56, 400, or elsewhere in these states should consult with our legal team to learn more about their legal rights following an automobile accident and the compensation available to treat PTSD.

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