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About every ten seconds, someone becomes the victim of a car accident injury.
Motor vehicle accidents can cause all kinds of serious, catastrophic, and even fatal injuries. All injuries are painful, but car accidents can cause more than physical pain. Research shows that about one-third of people in car crashes suffer from mental or emotional trauma due to the injuries, the recovery process, or the actual collision.
The effects can be debilitating and last long after the car crash itself.
Some people experience an anxiety disorder after an accident. They may have trouble functioning or be unable to control their emotions under challenging circumstances.
Car accident victims may suffer from symptoms such as:
Everyone reacts differently to trauma. For some people, the psychological effects of a car accident may cause a condition, often seen following a traumatic event, known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
According to the American Psychological Association, car accidents are a primary cause of post-traumatic stress disorder among the general public and military personnel. Studies show that almost 40 percent of individuals who did not receive mental health treatment for PTSD resulting from either a motor vehicle accident or other cause within six years after the trauma continued to suffer from PTSD for up to ten years after the accident.
Signs of PTSD resulting from a car accident include:
Common symptoms may also include:
Each situation and each individual is unique. As with any health issue, your doctor or health care professional will determine the best treatment for you. However, treating anxiety and emotional distress can include psychotherapy, medication, self-help, or a combination of these approaches.
The National Center for PTSD estimates that only 9 percent of those whose condition goes untreated recover after three months. However, 53 percent of people who receive trauma-focused psychotherapy recover after three months.
Psychotherapy is probably the most common treatment for emotional and psychological issues. The many types of psychotherapy take different approaches. Doctors, therapists, counselors, and other mental health professionals use these methods depending on the patient’s symptoms and situation. They typically perform a physical and psychological evaluation before starting treatment.
Common psychotherapeutic approaches for treating trauma include:
In some cases, the doctor may prescribe medication to treat symptoms. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are drugs frequently prescribed to treat anxiety and depressive disorders and other psychological conditions. It is not safe to self-medicate or take medication provided by anyone other than your doctor.
Examples of SSRIs include:
To have a personal injury claim, the injured person must prove that someone else’s negligence caused their injuries. The theory of negligence is “a failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances.” In some situations, negligent behavior consists of an omission or failure to act.
Common examples of driver negligence include:
If you were in a car accident that someone else caused, you will want to receive monetary compensation, also known as “damages,” for any loss you suffered. In addition, typically, you need to demonstrate that you have suffered prolonged emotional or mental health issues diagnosed and treated by a qualified mental health professional.
People can recover damages for mental anguish resulting from a car accident. In negligence claims, the injured person (the plaintiff) must prove the at-fault person (the defendant) was negligent and that the plaintiff suffered severe emotional anguish from the negligence. In a claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress, the victim does not need to prove intentional conduct by the defendant. Instead, they must prove that the defendant acted without exercising reasonable care. The negligent conduct may have been directed at the victim or have injured the victim as a bystander.
In California, a person injured in a motor vehicle accident can file a claim for emotional damages under the legal theory of negligent or intentional infliction of emotional distress, even if they were not physically injured.
With the intentional infliction of emotional distress, the victim must establish that the person at fault:
Suppose a bystander to the accident claims negligent infliction of emotional distress. In that case, they must show that the bystander witnessed the injury or fatality and that the negligence of the personal fault injured or killed someone the bystander knew. Therefore, they suffered emotional distress.
Lawsuits seeking damages for emotional distress can involve complex legal issues. It may be challenging to prove the connection between the accident and the victim’s anxiety or emotional distress.
Many forms of evidence may establish a claim of anxiety or emotional distress. Your attorney must establish that the anxiety or distress directly and substantially impacted your daily life.
Examples of evidence frequently include:
Emotional distress is non-economic damage. The goal of these damages is to compensate you for the daily adverse effects of someone else’s negligence or intentional misconduct.
Those who suffer anxiety or emotional symptoms due to a motor vehicle accident are just as injured as those with broken bones or other physical injuries. In some cases, they are worse off because physical injuries typically can heal after medical care. However, some psychological injuries could last for many years or even forever. Therefore, they can affect the lives of the injured person and their loved ones.
Often, people do not see mental health as important as physical health due to misconceptions. Also, even though mental health problems are common, there is a stigma attached to them. That is slowly changing, as people recognize the importance of mental health, but the existing stigma still creates an atmosphere where those suffering from such problems may be reluctant or ashamed to seek help.
At some point after being in a car accident, you may become aware of anxiety or emotional distress. It can be challenging to recognize because the symptoms can vary widely from one person to another. If you have concerns, you should always consult a health care professional.
Here are some tips to help you deal with anxiety, stress, or other symptoms you may be experiencing:
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