Auto accidents are often emotionally disturbing and traumatic events that can result in trauma and stress-related disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or an acute stress disorder (ASD). Some individuals who may otherwise make a quick, physical recovery from an auto accident, may suffer for weeks, months, years or a lifetime from the emotional distress caused by the event. Experienced auto accident attorneys are accustomed to pursuing a recovery for emotional injuries and the resultant behavioral symptoms.
Car Crashes Disrupt Lives
You are traveling along minding your own business, thinking of your plans for the day and the days ahead, when a blur enters your lane from a side-street and you have no time to stop. Time seems to stand still. In an instant your plans have changed. When the smoke clears, you are left wondering what happened. Although you may not suffer physical scars from an auto accident, emotional scars often occur.
The Law Allows Recovery of Physical and Emotional Damages
When another driver’s inattention causes a crash, there is often more than just property damage and personal injuries. Although auto accidents may result in physical, whiplash-type injuries such as muscles strains and sprains, concussions, herniated discs, annular tears and broken bones, they often take an emotional toll as well.
Trauma and Stress Related Disorders According to some authorities, auto accidents are the leading cause of PTSD. Auto accident induced PTSD is characterized by recurrent, involuntary, and intrusive distressing memories of the crash. The distressing event is often replayed over and over in dreams. In very young children, the experience may simply take the form of a frightening dream with no recognizable content. Older children may engage in repetitive play with themes or aspects of the event.
Behavioral changes that are often observed include avoidaning distressing thoughts about the event. For some, this may mean avoiding driving or travel that could present reminders of the crash. Others may experience persistent or exaggerated negative beliefs about themselves or others. A mother or father who was driving and whose child was injured may experience guilt or blame themselves in spite of having no fault for the accident. A child who loses a parent may irrationally believe that had they been paying more attention, the accident could have been avoided.
Other signs of PTSD can include irrational behavior and angry outbursts, reckless or self-destructive behavior, hypervigilance, exaggerated startle response, problems with concentration and difficulties sleeping, often as a result of the inability to cope with feelings or nightmares. Sometimes these symptoms are marked by dissociative symptoms known as depersonalization involving recurrent feelings of being detached from one’s self or body or of time moving slowly. Other times the symptoms may be marked by derealization involving a feeling that the world around the individual is distorted or unreal.
When these symptoms and beliefs continue for more than one month, this is often diagnosed as PTSD. When the symptoms are lesser and do not persist for more than a month, the diagnosis is often ASD.
Individuals experiencing these symptoms after a car crash should not isolate themselves from the world. They and their family should seek help from a competent health care professional trained to help others cope with these complex feelings and emotions.
Attorneys with experience in emotional distress cases understand the emotional difficulties that often ensue from auto accidents such as the auto accident lawyer Lakewood CO locals trust. Because the law recognizes both physical and emotional injuries can be caused by the negligence of others, such attorneys can often help victims—even those feeling irrational guilt—find some solace in holding the truly at-fault party legally responsible for their harms.
Thanks to Todd Barsumian, the owner of Barsumian Law LLC for his insight into trauma and stress-related disorders resulting from auto accidents.