Emotional and Mental Issues After a Car Accident

Car accidents can cause more than physical trauma. They can traumatize your mind, leading to emotional and mental issues.

These emotional and mental issues happen more frequently than most accident victims realize. But embarrassment and shame often push accident victims to hide their emotional and mental trauma.

Here are some facts to know about emotional and mental issues after a car accident and how they can affect your injury claim.

How Car Accidents Affect the Mind

Car accidents can affect your mind in a few ways:

Physical Trauma

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) can damage the physical structure of your brain. As a result, you may experience physical, cognitive, and emotional symptoms. 

For example, a concussion can cause:

  • Headaches
  • Blurry vision
  • Tinnitus
  • Fatigue
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability

These symptoms often clear up within two months after the accident. But accident victims with post-concussion syndrome could experience chronic symptoms for months or years after their concussion.

Emotional and Mental Trauma

You can experience emotional and mental issues after a car accident even if you did not suffer a brain injury. The traumatic event causes your brain to reset its stimulation levels and reactions to stimuli.

After a traumatic event, the brain tries to find ways to protect itself from a repeat event. One form of protection happens when the brain lowers its threshold for triggering the fight, flight, or freeze response.

Normally, the fight, flight, or freeze response saves your life in threatening situations. But after a traumatic event, the brain can trigger the response in harmless situations. This can result in anxiety, paranoia, and overreaction to triggering sensations. 

This resetting of the fight, flight, or freeze response is a key feature of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Other symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Flashbacks
  • Nightmares
  • Avoidance of triggering sights, smells, or sounds
  • Feelings of fear or guilt
  • Social isolation
  • Paranoia
  • Sleep disorders
  • Difficulty concentrating

Another form of protection happens when your brain withdraws so it does not need to relive and process the event. This can lead to depression and substance abuse.

Damages for Emotional and Mental Issues

Injury compensation covers both economic and non-economic losses.

Economic Losses

Economic losses include all of the ways your emotional and mental injuries affected you financially. Some examples of economic losses include:

  • Bills for treatment and counseling
  • Costs of drugs
  • Lost wages due to missed work
  • Diminished earning capacity due to permanent disabilities

While you might not think your mental or emotional issues will affect your career, they certainly may. 

For example, if you work as a truck driver and get into a severe truck accident, your PTSD might prevent you from driving again. If you change careers and shift to duties paid at a lower wage, you can claim the difference in wages as part of your economic damages.

Non-Economic Losses

Non-economic damages compensate you for your diminished quality of life due to your injuries. Examples of non-economic losses include:

  • Physical pain
  • Mental suffering
  • Inconvenience
  • Lost sleep
  • Inability to perform activities
  • Reduction in the enjoyment of life

The difference between economic losses and non-economic losses is that you must attach a dollar value to your economic losses. With non-economic losses, you just have to show that you suffered from them. Then, the jury or claims adjuster can presume a dollar value.

Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer for Help With Your Claim

Emotional and mental injuries can be grounds for compensation, just as physical injuries. To get compensation, you must prove:

  • The at-fault driver acted negligently in causing the accident
  • The accident caused your mental or emotional issues
  • You have suffered damages as a result of your mental or emotional issues

If you have suffered emotional or mental issues since your car accident, talk to your doctor as soon as possible.

Claims adjusters and jurors are often skeptical about claims of mental or emotional injuries. But if your medical records support your claim, you can often persuade them to compensate you.

Contact a personal injury lawyer to learn more about your rights after a car accident and the compensation you can recover for emotional and mental issues after the crash.