Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

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Post Traumatic Stress Disorder After an Accident

 Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is often associated with veterans returning from war zones. Similar problems are reported in some victims of auto accidents or other accidents such as falls.

PTSD in the victims of car, truck, cycling, motorcycle, or pedestrian crashes is likely understated. More than 20 studies suggest PTSD occurs at least a month after an auto accident in as many as 25 to 33 percent of victims. That’s a major problem. The bad news is many PTSD victims in Virginia are going undiagnosed.

At the Smith Law Center, we have decades of experience in helping people with brain injuries and PTSD.  On occasions, we can help you identify symptoms that doctors fail to diagnose. Please contact us if you are suffering PTSD symptoms after an auto accident.

PTSD After an Auto Accident – What To Look For

If you suffer any of these symptoms after a car wreck and you did not have them previously, you may be suffering from PTSD.

Mood Swings and Depression

Some people can become extremely depressed after a traumatic event like a car accident. They become paranoid about driving and don’t want to get back behind the wheel again. PTSD may change the way they see the world around them.

Flashbacks and Accident Recreation

Reliving an accident or a traumatic event can take many forms. PTSD sufferers often suffer from nightmares, visual or auditory memories and flashbacks. A car crash accident victim may hear the squeal of brakes again and feel the impact. A gunshot victim may recall the sound of the gun even when no shots are fired.


Hyper-arousal is a nervous response to triggers that did not previously cause such a response in accident victims. It may manifest itself in rapid heartbeats, butterflies in the stomach or sweating.


Avoidance is a fairly common symptom of PTSD. The sufferer often does not want to think about the accident or talk about it. He or she avoids reminders including places and activities associated with the accident scene.

The Challenge of Identifying Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

PTSD can be tough to diagnose and treat because it takes different forms in different people.  Some PTSD sufferers have bad dreams while other experience anxiety in crowds. Others may experience flashbacks. 

In extreme cases, sufferers may contemplate or even commit acts of self-harm, although this is rare. The most severe instances of PTSD can combine auditory hallucinations and even thoughts of harming others.

People with PTSD often fail to receive help. They believe they can manage their symptoms and recover without outside assistance. They may seek to isolate themselves. Often people with PTSD will feel misplaced guilt about their condition and believe they were responsible for their accident.

How Many Car Crash Victims Develop PTSD?

The results of studies vary, but a significant number of car accident victims will develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs states about 9 percent of motor vehicle accident survivors develop PTSD. Some studies point to a higher figure.

Rates are significantly higher in samples of motor vehicle accident survivors who receive treatment for mental health issues. Studies show that an average of 60 percent of people who seek help have PTSD.

Up to 53 percent of car crash survivors who seek treatment and have PTSD are also diagnosed with another mood disorder like significant depression or anxiety.

Can You Claim for PTSD After a Virginia Car Accident?

In Virginia, people who are hurt in car accidents can claim for both physical and mental pain and suffering. There is no accurate calculator for pain and suffering but you can make a claim for PTSD. Additionally, this condition can lead to lost days at work and ongoing psychological care or rehabilitation costs.

The fact PTSD is not as well understood as other issues by the medical profession means many accident victims suffer in silence. It may take time for a victim to receive an official diagnosis and the compensation you deserve. A personal injury lawyer can put you in touch with specialist medical professionals who will help you with this condition.

Even a seemingly minor car accident can leave you with PTSD. Symptoms like invasive thoughts, flashbacks and a lack of sleep can play havoc with your life.

Contact an Experienced Virginia PTSD Injury Lawyer

At the Smith Law Center, our team has won numerous big verdicts for clients with serious brain injuries and other disorders caused by personal injury. We have helped people who suffer a wide range of emotional and physical issues after auto or other accidents. See our results on our website or contact us today for a consultation at 757.244.7000.