PTSD, also known as post traumatic stress disorder, is a psychiatric disorder that sometimes affects people who have witnessed or experienced a traumatic event. When a personal injury victim suffers from PTSD as the result of an accident, it can interfere with daily functioning in ways that make physical and mental recovery even tougher. As a personal injury lawyer at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman P.C. can tell you, this type of impairment is compensable under the law but it is not as straightforward as a clearly physical injury.
PTSD as a result of personal injury
When most people think of PTSD, they probably think of affected soldiers returning from war. In reality, there are many other causes as well, including natural disasters, sexual assault, car accidents, and other types of personal injury.
PTSD as a result of a traffic accident, for example, is far more common than most people realize. In studies examining people seeking treatment for injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident, between 25% and 33% of the accident victims suffer from PTSD. Conservative estimates based on these studies put the number of Americans afflicted by car accident-related PTSD between 2.5 million and 7 million. Logic would put the total number of personal injury-related PTSD cases even higher.
Symptoms of PTSD
It is natural to experience some emotional effects after a serious accident. In some cases, though, the emotional impact interferes with everyday functioning or does not improve over time and it may actually be signs of PTSD.
The overlap between typical emotional recovery and a more serious problem can make it difficult to spot PTSD right away. It can also prevent a victim from seeking medical help for it and the delay in treatment can make a claim even harder to prove.
Some of the problems to pay attention to include:
- Flashbacks, nightmares, or other types of “re-living” the event
- Avoiding similar situations
- Having a more negative outlook or attitude
- Feeling overly alert, jittery, or hyperaware of surroundings
Also be on the lookout for problems like chronic pain, depression, and substance abuse, which often accompany PTSD.
Winning a PTSD claim
A personal injury plaintiff must prove that the PTSD was caused by the defendant’s negligence. The first step is proving that the plaintiff is indeed suffering from PTSD. A skilled personal injury lawyer will take a multi-step approach to this, including:
- Helping the jury understand what PTSD is and how it affects victims
- Establishing that the plaintiff is suffering from PTSD and the effect that it has on daily living
Since these topics are well outside the knowledge and understanding of the typical juror, expert testimony is usually needed to make these points.
How a personal injury lawyer can help
The Rockland and Bergen County personal injury lawyers at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman P.C. in Rockland County, New York and Bergen County, New Jersey understand the extreme impact that a serious accident can have on a victim and their family. Our dedicated attorneys and staff are committed to seeing each case through to maximizing compensation.
If you have experienced physical or emotional pain because of someone else’s carelessness, put your trust in tireless advocates. Call us today for a no-obligation consultation.
Additional PTSD lawsuit resources:
- NCBI, Assesment and treatment of PTSD after a motor vehicle collision: Empirical findings and clinical observations, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2396820/
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, PTSD: National Center for PTSD: What Is PTSD?, https://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/ptsd-overview/basics/what-is-ptsd.asp