Traffic laws exist for a reason. Getting behind the wheel means you agree to adhere to all traffic laws and safety regulations. In return, other drivers promise to reasonably do the same.
Unfortunately, accidents can still happen.
If another driver’s negligence causes a collision, it can cause severe injuries to both of you. However, not all injuries are visible. Sometimes an accident can cause severe emotional trauma. These “invisible” emotional injuries can have a tangible impact on a person’s quality of life.
Types of emotional trauma after a collision
A car crash can leave you feeling dazed, confused and scared. You might not even be aware of the emotional trauma, depending on your physical injuries.
The most common types of emotional trauma include:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
You can suffer from one or a combination of these “invisible” injuries. In severe cases, they can lower your ability to perform basic tasks. They may even cause a permanent disability.
Symptoms of emotional trauma after a car accident
If you’ve been in a car accident, be on the lookout for the following symptoms of emotional trauma.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, most everyone experiences some level of anxiety, but it’s not always debilitating. People diagnosed with “general anxiety” experience excessive anxiety most days of the week for at least 6 months.
If you experience anxiety following a car crash, symptoms can include:
- Difficulty focusing
- Muscle tension
- Feelings of worry
- Sleep disorders
Major depressive disorder, or clinical depression, is a common but serious mood disorder. The severity of a car accident can cause clinical depression which may affect drivers for the rest of their lives.
Symptoms to watch for include:
- Persistent sad, anxious or “empty” mood
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Feelings of helplessness
- Loss of interest in hobbies and activities
- Moving or talking more slowly
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions
- Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening or oversleeping
- Appetite and/or weight changes
- Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
- Aches or pains, headaches, cramps or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and/or that don’t ease with treatment
Post-traumatic stress disorder encompasses several different symptoms. Violence and military warfare are the most common forms of trauma to cause PTSD. However, an unexpected shock, like a car accident, can also cause PTSD symptoms, such as:
- Nightmares and other sleep disturbances
- Mood swings
- Lack of appetite
- Irrational fear or paranoia
- Suicidal tendencies
- Thoughts of violence
- Panic attacks
- Chronic fatigue
If you experience these symptoms after a severe accident, it’s important to report them to your doctor.
Care and treatment following a car accident
If you think you might be suffering from anxiety, depression or PTSD, contact your doctor. They can recommend licensed professionals who can administer various screening tests to determine whether you’re, in fact, suffering from clinical trauma after a car accident.
The key to recovering from an emotional or psychological injury is building a strong support network. Doctors, nurses, physical therapists and licensed counselors can help treat your condition. These and others in your community can provide encouragement and support.
Who pays for treatment for mental trauma after a car accident?
Perhaps the driver who hit you was texting while driving, or intoxicated or ran a red light. If the accident is a result of their negligence, you may be entitled to compensation through their insurance company or by suing them personally. Filing a claim can help cover the cost of treatment for your emotional trauma such as therapy and counseling.
Florida law recognizes 2 types of damages
For victims of Florida car accidents, the following types of damages are available.
- Compensatory damage. If you’re the plaintiff (victim of negligence) in an injury case, the court may award compensatory damages. This means the defendant must pay a certain amount of money intended to help you recover from economic and non-economic damages. These damages include medical bills, lost wages, car repairs, pain and suffering and loss of body function.
- Punitive damage. Non-economic damages include mental anguish, loss of interest and invisible injuries. If the court awards punitive damages, the defendant is ordered to pay a certain amount of money as a punishment for their neglect.
Some days will be better than others following a collision. If you’re experiencing symptoms of anxiety, depression, or PTSD, seek help in your community. If you think you may be entitled to compensation, contact an experienced lawyer right away to begin filing your claim.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: George Lorenzo
George Lorenzo is the founder of Lorenzo & Lorenzo, a top-rated and well-respected law firm in Tampa, FL that specializes in personal injury, auto accidents, premises liability and wrongful death. We understand the many ways in which a serious accident can affect your quality of life – financially, physically and emotionally. When facing legal action in court, the process can quickly become overwhelming, regardless of which side of the table you are on. Visit our website today.