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Can You Claim PTSD in a Car Accident Claim?

By Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. on June 18, 2020

Traffic collision can be traumatic experiences that go beyond physical wounds. In cases involving traumatic brain injuries, victims can suffer mood swings, depression, anxiety, and other changes in cognitive functions. But even in accidents that do not involve head wounds, you can still be left with lasting emotional damage. This may affect your personal relationship, work-life balance, and ability to perform daily tasks.

PTSD can affect any individual who has been through a catastrophic event, car accidents included. But, does that mean you can include it in an auto accident claim with an insurance company?

Why PTSD Occurs

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a medical condition that often follows traumatic affects the way an accident victim responds to stimuli. It can have a range of symptoms, including:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Flashbacks
  • Nightmares or difficulty sleeping
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Avoidant behaviors
  • Alienation
  • Disassociation

These symptoms must last for more than a month after an accident for a psychiatrist or psychologist to diagnose a patient with PTSD. While PTSD can occur alongside traumatic brain injuries (TBI), it can also occur simply because of the shock of an auto accident. In an analysis of road traffic accidents, researchers found 18-26 of accident victims were diagnosed with PTSD, according to a study published in the academic journal Medicine.

Researchers have linked the prevalence of PTSD in auto accidents to the fear and anxiety a victim experienced. The initial shock of the accident is difficult to shake off in the months after the incident and victims may feel that their life is still in danger. This can be connected to physical injuries they suffered, but it ultimately comes down to emotional trauma.

Compensation for Emotional Damages in the State of Washington

While PTSD is a medically accepted psychological injury and there is strong evidence connecting it to auto accidents, pursuing a claim for PTSD can be difficult, but not impossible. At-fault insurance companies will resist providing full coverage after an accident, often providing victims with low settlement offers for their injuries. These settlements rarely include emotional distress or pain and suffering, even when they are backed by a medical diagnosis of PTSD.

But, with the right attorney, expert medical opinions, and a firm case for liability, you may be able to receive compensation for PTSD. Your case will be significantly easier if you case also includes a physical injury, such as a TBI, disability, or even scarring and disfigurement, however you can pursue psychological trauma in your claim if it causes serious damages to your life.

Damages that can be pursued in a claim for PTSD can include therapy fees, lost wages due to an inability to work, a change in your career, and any assistance you need in recovering a normal life. In addition, the state of Washington allows victims to pursue non-economic damages in an auto accident claim, which can include emotional distress and pain and suffering. When these conditions are followed up with professional psychiatric treatment, your chances of receive proper compensation can increase.

Ultimately, to secure a strong case for compensation for PTSD, you will need the legal representation of a skilled Seattle car accident attorneys. At Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S., our firm has over 40 years of experience representing auto accident victims who suffered a wide range of trauma after an accident. We offer each client a free consultation to review their case and determine if you are eligible for compensation, so there is no cost to giving us a call at (425) 228-3860 or toll-free at (888) 228-3860.

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