PTSD And Motor Vehicle Accidents

PTSD is an anxiety disorder that often follows a traumatic event involving actual or threatened death, serious injury, or threat to the physical integrity of oneself or others (American Psychiatric Association, 2000). PTSD was not truly recognized until the 1970s, after the Vietnam War. Since then, it has become an enduring part of the experience of human beings as a mental health condition that may derive from any traumatic event, not just war.

For example, many people overlook the risk of PTSD after a motor vehicle accident even though severe motor vehicle accidents may be greatly traumatic, which may cause accident victims to suffer from PTSD.

For many accident victims, the symptoms of PTSD following a serious accident may include

  • psychologically re-experiencing the trauma (e.g., intrusive thoughts about the accident, distressing dreams about the accident),
  • persistent avoidance of thoughts or situations associated with the accident (e.g., reluctance or refusal to drive, actively avoiding thoughts about the MVA),
  • numbing of emotional responsiveness (e.g., greatly reduced or absence of emotions, feeling detached from others), and
  • increased physical arousal (e.g., exaggerated startle, irritability, disturbed sleep).

Some healthcare professionals tend to overlook an accident victim’s mental health for two reasons. First, physical injuries are visible and require immediate, and often, extensive medical attention, which prioritizes their treatment over that of any mental or emotional maladies after an accident. Second, the shock and emotional trauma of a motor vehicle accident often do not appear until some time has passed after the accident.

As those afflicted with PTSD well know, this condition may be just as problematic and damaging as any visible, physical injury. These symptoms may inhibit a victim’s full recovery as well as the quality of life. Yet, it may be difficult to observe any signs of mental or emotional disorders since they do not leave visible injuries or scars. Nevertheless, there are common signs of PTSD that may appear after a motor vehicle accident or any traumatic event, including

  • Victims taking extreme measures to avoid the location of the accident;
  • Victims avoiding vehicles altogether and refuse to drive;
  • Victims suffering post-accident severe anxiety or panic attacks;
  • Victims isolating themselves from others and showing extreme concern for their future; or
  • Victims have a heightened awareness and alertness of risks or dangers, which interferes with their everyday life.

If you observe any of the above signs in a loved one or friend who has been involved in an accident, encourage them to seek help immediately. Pennsylvania allows accident victims to recover damages for mental or emotional losses such as pain and suffering that result from another person’s negligence. If you or a loved one has suffered any type of injury, contact Powell Law at (570) 961-0777. The consultation is FREE, and you don’t pay anything unless we win.

PTSD And Motor Vehicle Accidents

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