Psychological Impact of Car Accidents: Recognizing & Addressing PTSD

By David Hammond

While the physical injuries from a car crash can be severe, the emotional trauma can also have a profound and lasting impact. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a frequent psychological result of car accidents. 

At Carden Dotzler Hammond, PLLC, we understand the challenges faced by car accident victims who were injured because of someone else’s wrongdoing, and we are dedicated to providing the support and legal guidance they need.

How Car Accidents Can Lead to PTSD

The sudden, violent nature of car accidents is traumatic. The experience of a collision, along with the fear of injury or death, can overwhelm the mind and body. Some factors that enhance the risk of developing PTSD after a car accident include:

  • The severity of the accident
  • Being injured
  • Witnessing others being harmed

Examples of traumatic experiences in car accidents include:

  • Being trapped in a vehicle
  • Experiencing a rollover
  • Seeing someone seriously injured or killed

These events can leave a lasting imprint on the psyche, leading to the development of PTSD symptoms.

Understanding PTSD

PTSD can occur after you experience or witness a traumatic event. Usually associated with military combat, PTSD can result from various traumatic experiences, including car accidents. Several other risk factors may contribute to the development of PTSD, such as:

  • History of mental health issues
  • Lack of social support
  • Previous trauma

Understanding these risk factors can help individuals recognize that they might have PTSD and seek appropriate support.

Symptoms of PTSD

PTSD symptoms can vary from person to person but typically fall into four categories:

  • Intrusive memories or flashbacks: Reliving the traumatic event through unwanted and distressing memories or nightmares.
  • Avoidance of reminders of the trauma: Avoiding certain places, people, or situations that trigger memories of the accident.
  • Negative changes in thoughts and mood: Experiencing fear, guilt, or detachment from others.
  • Changes in physical and emotional reactions: Irritability, sleeplessness, or being easily startled.

Impact of PTSD on Daily Life

PTSD can significantly interfere with daily functioning, affecting work performance and personal relationships. Individuals with PTSD may:

  • Struggle to concentrate
  • Experience mood swings
  • Withdraw from social interactions

The condition can also increase the risk of developing other mental health issues.

Coping Strategies and Treatment Options

Seeking professional help is crucial for individuals struggling with PTSD after a car accident. Mental health professionals can provide various treatments, including:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): Assists individuals in recognizing and altering negative thought patterns and behaviors
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR): Focuses on eye movements to process traumatic memories
  • Medication: Antidepressants may alleviate symptoms.
  • Support groups and self-care practices: Exercise and relaxation techniques can complement professional treatment.

The Role of Legal Support

Car accident victims with PTSD may be entitled to compensation for their emotional distress and treatment costs. At Carden Dotzler Hammond, PLLC, our experienced attorneys:

  • Understand the complexities of pursuing a claim that involves psychological injuries
  • Connect clients with skilled mental health professionals to ensure they receive the necessary support
  • Help clients obtain the resources they need to focus on recovery and move forward

Get the Legal Help You Need Now

PTSD is a severe and often overlooked consequence of car accidents. Recognizing the symptoms and seeking timely treatment can significantly affect the recovery process. If you or someone close to you is showing symptoms of PTSD following a car accident, get the support you need today.

Reach out for help from the experienced legal advocates of Carden Dotzler Hammond, PLLC. With the right help and resources, you can overcome the psychological impact of a car accident and reclaim your life.

About the Author
David is a former military prosecutor and defense lawyer with over a decade of experience fighting for service members and their families. He served nine years and two combat tours as an active duty US Army officer, then joined the Reserves and settled down in Syracuse to be near family. Now representing people across Central New York charged with serious felonies, misdemeanors, DWIs, and traffic offenses, he puts the same level of commitment into his civilian law practice. If you have any questions regarding this article, you can contact David here.