Although traffic accidents are common, what you experience during and after a collision might be entirely different from what another person would experience in the same situation.
For one person, for example, a traffic crash might be a traumatically emotional experience, while another person in the same circumstances might walk away from the accident with no emotional change.
And in some cases, emotional trauma may not emerge consciously or observably for some days or even for several weeks after your involvement in a collision.
CAN TRAFFIC COLLISIONS CAUSE PTSD?
Traffic accident victims who struggle with the most severe trauma after a collision may suffer from PTSD, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Unlike anger, guilt, or even temporary depression, PTSD is not considered a normal emotional response following a traffic accident. A diagnosis of PTSD means that your psychological trauma is so pronounced that it may impair your capacity to live and enjoy your life.
Research shows us that PTSD tends to be linked with the most severe accidents – collisions that end with fatalities and/or with catastrophic, life-threatening injuries or permanently disabling injuries.
Typically, post-accident trauma fades over time, but when it doesn’t, the victim should seek help immediately.
WHAT BEHAVIORS ARE ASSOCIATED WITH PTSD?
PTSD can negatively impact how you think and how you behave. Some of the problems linked to PTSD include:
1. general, ongoing, and unrelieved anxiety
2. fear of riding in or driving a vehicle
3. refusing medical tests, procedures, or assistance
4. excessive anger, irritability, and/or worry
5. a feeling of alienation – that you are no longer connected to other people
6. bad memories and even nightmares about the accident
7. sleeping disorders including insomnia
WHAT ARE THE BEST WAYS TO DEAL WITH PTSD?
While PTSD is not a normal emotional response to a serious accident, it is not that uncommon. If you are struggling with PTSD after a traffic crash, here are some tips to help you cope:
1. Talk it out: Meeting a counselor and talking it out almost always helps. Talk with a counselor about your fears and feelings regarding the crash. Both public sector and private sector counseling resources are abundantly available in the Chicago area.
2. Stay active: Try to get outdoors. Exercise. If you have been physically injured in the accident, ask your doctor if physical therapy will help you.
3. Keep your medical appointments: Do not miss any medical visits. Adhere to all of your doctor’s orders. A failure to follow up will lengthen your recovery time and might also make it more difficult to acquire compensation if you choose to file an injury claim.
4. Resume your life: When you are able, resume your normal daily routine and activities.
5. Take your medicine: Your doctors can probably prescribe medication to help you manage PTSD. In most cases, the medications are only needed temporarily to reduce the negative impact of PTSD on the quality of your life.
WHAT ARE YOUR RIGHTS AFTER AN ACCIDENT THAT TRIGGERS PTSD?
If another driver’s negligence or intentional behavior causes a collision and you develop PTSD as a consequence of that accident, you can take legal action to seek compensation.
If your injury claim cannot be resolved outside of the courtroom, a personal injury attorney will not hesitate to take your case to court and to fight aggressively for the compensation you need.
In a PTSD case arising from a traffic collision, you would be suing for the “negligent infliction of emotional distress,” meaning that the negligence of the at-fault driver (that is, the defendant) caused your injuries and that the defendant should be held liable for damages.
HOW CAN AN ILLINOIS INJURY ATTORNEY HELP?
PTSD is a complicated psychological disorder. You will need a knowledgeable attorney’s help to prove that your PTSD is genuine, legitimate, and arises from a particular traffic accident.
However, to prove that someone’s PTSD is linked to a particular traffic crash, your attorney will need your complete medical records and may require the statements or testimony of experts.
Most people have heard of PTSD but do not understand it, so an expert witness can usually help. However, the other side may retain its own expert witness to challenge your PTSD claim.
TO PREVAIL WITH A PTSD CLAIM, WHAT MUST YOUR LAWYER PROVE?
If your case goes to trial, your personal injury lawyer will have to convince a jury that:
1. A negligent driver caused an accident that injured you.
2. You suffered an injury which caused and triggered your PTSD.
3. You should recover compensation for your treatment costs and for any future damages that result from the injury and psychological trauma.
If you struggle with PTSD after a catastrophic vehicle collision, you may be entitled to additional compensation for your emotional distress.
Speak as quickly as possible to an skilled injury lawyer regarding your legal rights and options after a traffic collision that triggers PTSD.
It will not cost you anything to learn more about your case or to stand up for your rights. In Illinois, most personal injury lawyers provide a free first consultation and case review.
Personal injury lawyers also work on a contingent fee basis, so when an injury lawyer takes your case, you will pay nothing until – and unless – that attorney wins compensation on your behalf.
HOW MUCH TIME DO INJURY VICTIMS HAVE TO TAKE LEGAL ACTION?
You’ll have to act quickly after an accident. If you have been injured in this state by another person’s negligence, in most cases, you must take legal action within two years. After two years, the statute of limitations goes into effect, and your claim will not be heard by the courts.
If you have been injured or if you are struggling with PTSD after an accident, do not wait two years to act, and then scramble to file a lawsuit at the last moment.
You should not even wait two weeks. If you are struggling with PTSD after being injured in Illinois traffic, put your case in the trustworthy hands of a qualified personal injury attorney.
If you’ve been injured by negligence in Illinois, you are entitled to compensation, and legal help is your right. You’ll need an attorney who will fight for the compensation and justice that an injury victim needs and deserves. Do not wait to get the legal help you need.