When you think about personal injury claims from an accident, you immediately picture severe physical injuries such as a broken bone or laceration. However, your emotional and mental injury effects from a car accident can be equally, if not more, serious and debilitating. Emotional trauma can interfere with your daily activities, compromise your life at work or home, and manifest as physical symptoms in extreme cases. Understand the emotional damage car accidents can cause and get the professional care you need for health and wellbeing.
What Happens to You Psychologically and Physiologically After an Accident?
Many different factors can influence the psychological and physiological effects of a car accident. We all respond differently to traumatic events. Specifically, the nature of your accident and your pre-disposition will have the strongest impact on your state after the fact. Shock will be a common experience immediately following an accident, but even days or weeks later you may notice other changes in yourself.
For example, you may experience shifts in your mood, trouble staying focused, and increased fatigue among other changes. Sometimes, these issues will resolve on their own over time, but in many cases, they are symptoms of a mental or emotional health condition that requires treatment. In addition to receiving available treatment, you may have a right to compensation for these types of injuries.
What Are Some Long-Term Mental and Emotional Health Conditions That an Accident Can Cause?
Emotional shock after a car accident is normal, but sometimes that emotional shock evolves into something more substantial and damaging. These mental and emotional health conditions that may develop after a traumatic car accident can include:
- Panic Attacks
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Common Symptoms of Anxiety After a Car Accident
Anxiety is one of the most common conditions after a car accident. You may experience anxiety specific to future interactions involving motor vehicles. In other cases, your anxiety from an accident can be more general and present itself in other situations. Some of these symptoms include:
- Concentration issues
- Unwanted feelings of worry and nervousness
- Increased heart rate and rapid breathing
- Sleep problems
- Sweating in social or other situations that induce stress
How Do You Know if You Have PTSD from a Car Accident? What Are Some Signs?
PTSD is a condition that can develop after experiencing one or more traumatic events like a car accident. While PTSD has some overlap with other mental health conditions (i.e., anxiety or depression), you may distinguish it through the occurrence of additional symptoms. Specifically, the following may be signs of PTSD from your car accident:
- Repeated and intrusive flashbacks or nightmares that vividly portray the events of the accident.
- Avoidance of the people, places, and things that trigger your remembrance of the accidents (e.g., driving or riding in a motor vehicle).
- Increased hypervigilance or paranoia over your surroundings.
Can You File a Claim for Emotional Distress After a Car Accident?
Along with other personal injury claims for negligence, you can file a separate legal claim for the emotional distress you endure due to a car accident. To succeed on a claim for infliction of emotional distress as a direct victim, you must prove the following:
- The person you’re suing (i.e., the defendant) was negligent in their conduct. Usually, this will be the other driver in the accident, but could extend to other parties depending on the facts.
- The negligence caused emotional distress.
Understandably, emotional distress can be a more challenging legal claim to prove because of the nature of the injury. It is not like other personal injuries that you can easily observe with the naked eye. Evidence used to prove a claim for emotional distress generally comes in a variety of forms, such as:
- Testimony from you or other witnesses who could speak to the car accident’s effect on your mental and emotional state (e.g., spouse, family, friends, etc.).
- Medical testimony and records from a licensed physician or therapist.
- Other records documenting your symptoms of emotional distress (e.g., journals of your mood, panic attacks, etc.).
How Much Can I Claim for Emotional or Mental Injuries After a Car Accident?
The amount of damages you can claim for infliction of emotional distress will depend on the severity of your injury and related costs that accrue from it. Like other personal injury claims, you can recover both economic and non-economic damages for emotional distress. Your economic damages are reimbursement for the costs of your injury such as medical costs, lost wages, etc. In the case of emotional distress, this might be for costs to see a psychiatrist or other mental health specialist along with other treatments.
In addition to economic damages, you may also be able to recover non-economic damages for your emotional distress. Non-economic damages compensate you for the pain and suffering you experience from the accident and your injuries. Unlike some states, California does not cap the amount a person claims for non-economic damages in a personal injury claim (except for medical malpractice lawsuits). However, the state does exclude certain persons from recovering non-economic damages in warranted situations (e.g., driving impaired or driving without required car insurance).
What Is Extreme Emotional Distress?
Cases of emotional distress can be either intentional or negligence based. Extreme emotional distress is a reference to the former and describes cases where the defendant’s actions were too outrageous to be accidental. The outrageous conduct from the defendant then causes you to experience emotional distress that is severe and substantial. Usually, this means distress that endures long after the car accident.
Why Is It Important to Hire an Attorney After a Multi-Car Accident?
A personal injury attorney can be a valuable resource for navigating the judicial system after a car accident and receiving owed compensation for your emotional and mental anguish. As mentioned above, claims for emotional distress can be complex and highly fact specific. Working with an attorney that has experience litigating these types of claims in the context of car accidents could be beneficial in several ways. For example,
- Providing insight on the viability of a claim for emotional distress.
- Helping you gather evidence and document your emotional or mental injuries.
- Getting the necessary opinions from medical professionals to corroborate your mental state and establish causation with the car accident.
- Helping you identify all parties responsible for the mental and emotional effects of the car accident.
- Evaluating settlement terms from opposing insurance companies or defendants so you can make informed decisions about settling or pursuing a trial.
Working with a personal injury is the comfort that comes from having an experienced representative and advocate in a position to protect your interests during a case. Without an attorney handling your personal injury case, you may risk settling for a lower amount because you do not realize the full extent of your available damages, thus limiting the amount of your final compensation. Conversely, a good personal injury lawyer will advise you on the risks of proceeding to trial when presented with a fair and reasonable settlement offer.
Call Us About Your Compensation Options for the Emotional and Mental Injury Effects of a Car Accident
The mental and emotional effects you endure from a car accident are injuries too. You deserve recognition of wrongdoing and just compensation when emotional distress interferes with your daily living. At Adamson Ahdoot, we are a full-service personal injury law firm based in Los Angeles that represents clients seeking compensation for their mental and physical injuries after a car accident. We have a deep respect and appreciation for the uniquely difficult position of our clients, and value what they need for peace of mind after an accident.
With that principle as our guide, we pursue justice on your behalf with an aggressive strategy that combines our ambitions for protecting your interests with our meticulous attention to detail. You can schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys to get a preliminary understanding of your case and learn more about what sets us apart from other personal injury firms in California.
Call us at (800) 310-1606 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with one of our car accident attorneys about claims for your mental or emotional injuries.