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PTSD After a Car Accident in New York


Coping with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) After a Car Accident

Navigating the aftermath of a car accident can be extremely taxing. Even if you’ve physically healed from your injuries, you may find yourself facing long-term psychological effects like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

While many people often associate PTSD with combat and physical or sexual assault victims/survivors, car crash victims/survivors can also develop PTSD. A study included in The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease found that 39.2% of motor vehicle accident victims/survivors develop PTSD, which affected their work, school, homemaking performance, familial and platonic relationships, ability to drive, and other aspects of their lives.

PTSD is a serious condition that requires professional treatment. There are also some things you can do on your own to manage its symptoms. This blog will discuss the signs of PTSD after a car accident, provide information about therapies and medications for recovery, and offer tips for self-care and coping strategies.

What Is PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that is caused by a trauma or terrifying event. Whether you are a witness to or a victim of the experience, you can get PTSD after an incident, including a car accident.

Common Symptoms of PTSD After a Vehicular Accident

While the physical injuries you suffer after an accident are more recognizable, PTSD can be hard to identify as you can develop symptoms of PTSD months or even years after your accident. In some cases, the person experiencing PTSD may not even realize that they potentially have post-traumatic stress related to the accident. Common symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Intrusive memories or thoughts. Those with PTSD may have flashbacks or nightmares concerning the accident; these thoughts or memories are usually associated with a trigger, which refers to something that reminds you of what happened before or during a trauma.
  • Avoidance. This symptom involves being unwilling or unable to think or talk about the accident or avoiding places, people, and activities that remind you of the accident.
  • Mood changes. PTSD can often cause a person to have negative changes in their mood or thinking, such as feeling emotionally numb, having difficulty maintaining close relationships, feeling hopeless about the future, experiencing memory problems or difficulty experiencing positive emotions, feeling detached, and having negative thoughts about yourself and others.
  • Changes in physical and emotional responses. If you have PTSD, you may be easily frightened or startled, have trouble sleeping or concentrating, or have outbursts of anger or aggressive behavior.
  • Hypersensitivity. You may become hypersensitive to touch or may feel constantly on edge.

If you notice that you have any of the aforementioned symptoms, you should speak with your doctor. It is also important to note that those who suffer from PTSD can also develop other mental health conditions because of the accident and their PTSD. If you experience these conditions, you should also contact your doctor. These other conditions include:

  • Major depression
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Memory issues
  • Substance abuse problems

What to Do If You Suspect You Have PTSD

If you are experiencing any symptoms of PTSD, you should talk with your doctor immediately. They can advise you on your next steps, including giving you a recommendation for therapy.

A psychologist or psychiatrist can diagnose you, help you identify your triggers, and guide you in developing coping mechanisms. They may also recommend various therapies to treat your symptoms. Some of the therapeutic methods used to treat PTSD include:

  • Stress inoculation training
  • Group therapy
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Cognitive-processing therapy
  • Prolonged exposure therapy

Self-Care and Coping Strategy Tips for Handling PTSD After a Car Accident

As we mentioned, you can take additional steps, outside of therapy, to better cope with your PTSD. Here are five tips for handling your PTSD after a car accident.

  1. Lean on your family and friends. While you may want to isolate or feel like you need to be alone, you should reach out to and spend time with your family and friends. Surrounding yourself with people who understand and care about you can provide much-needed support.
  2. Take time for self-reflection. Make space for yourself to reflect on the accident, express your feelings, and learn from the experience; journaling can be very cathartic and healing, and you can use your journal as a tool in therapy.
  3. Practice grounding techniques. If you become overwhelmed by anxiety or distress, using mindful breathing exercises or repeating a calming mantra can help anchor you in the present moment. This tip can be especially helpful if you have intrusive memories or thoughts.
  4. Engage in soothing activities. Doing things that bring you joy like listening to music or reading a book or doing yoga can help relax your body and mind.
  5. Prioritize healthy habits. Eating balanced meals, getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, limiting caffeine and alcohol consumption, and hydrating will all help promote physical and emotional well-being.

Compensation for PTSD in Car Accident Claims

The law in New York recognizes that people involved in car accidents can suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and may be entitled to compensation. Candidates for PTSD compensation must prove that the accident caused their disorder and that it has a lasting impact on their lives.

To prove that you have sustained PTSD after the accident, you will need to submit to a psychological evaluation by a licensed mental health professional. This evaluation can establish your diagnosis and assess how much PTSD has affected your ability to function.

As New York is a no-fault state, you will have to review your own insurance policy and file a claim with them to cover damages like your medical expenses and lost wages. However, you can pursue a lawsuit if your economic losses exceed the no-fault benefits.

No-fault insurance typically does not include non-economic damages, which include pain and suffering and PTSD. Thus, to recover compensation for PTSD-related damages, you will need to pursue a personal injury claim.

Contact Our Firm for Help with PTSD-Related Car Accident Claims

If you or a loved one have suffered PTSD because of a negligence-related car accident, the Law Offices of Charles R. Gueli is equipped to help you. Whether you have questions about how to pursue compensation, need help negotiating with your insurance company, or are wondering what your next steps should be (legally), our attorney has over 25 years of legal experience and has the skills and experience to handle your case.

Learn more about how our firm can help you by calling (516) 628-6402 or contacting us online.
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