Some People May Acquire Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a Result of a Stressful Incident like an Accident, Which Can Have a Serious Impact on Regular Day to Day Activities.
When people think about injuries caused by an accident, they often imagine neck injuries, contusions, traumatic brain injuries, and even death. However, accident victims also commonly suffer from unseen injuries that can be just as impactful and debilitating, like post traumatic stress disorder induced by the accident.
Learn About Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post traumatic stress disorder is a mental health condition that is typically triggered by a shocking and/scary event. The DSM-5, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, sets forth a set of criteria for the diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
While it is possible that a mental health professional may diagnose an individual with PTSD without satisfying each of these elements, such a diagnosis is likely to present difficulty in a personal injury case. It is likely that experts hired by the opposing counsel will point to any deviations from this criteria to undermine your claim, as this manual is accepted as the premier diagnostic guide in mental health care.
Let’s dive into the criteria for diagnosing PTSD as described in the DSM-5.
The first element of PTSD is that an individual was exposed to death, near/threatened death, serious injury, or sexual assault experienced by the individual personally, by witnessing it happen to someone else in person, through learning that it happened to a close family member or friend, or by experiencing traumatic events repeatedly.
The second element is that one the above events results in distressing memories that are recurrent and intrusive, flashbacks or other dissociative reactions, recurrent nightmares, and triggers causing intense psychological distress or physiological reactions.
The third element of the criteria is that the victim engages in persistent avoidance of triggers of the traumatic event.
The fourth element is that the victim experience two or more of the following negative thoughts or moods: cannot remember important details about the traumatic event, experience negative thoughts about themselves, others, or the world in general that are exaggerated and persistent, have distorted thoughts about what caused the event, experience persistent negative moods and disinterest in activities they once enjoyed, feel distant and isolated from others, and have persistent difficulty in experiencing positive emotions.
The fifth element of PTSD is two or more changes in a victim’s reactivity including outbursts of anger, irritability, self-destructive behavior, recklessness, exaggerated startle response, difficulty concentrating, difficulty sleeping or staying awake, and hypervigilance.
In addition to these elements, the disorder must last for more than one month, cause significant distress to the victim’s life, and not be attributable to use of a substance or another medical condition.
Symptoms Associated with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Symptoms associated with post traumatic stress disorder may manifest immediately after an accident or take weeks to appear; however, once they do, you must experience the symptoms for at least one month or longer.
Within the diagnostic criteria of PTSD, every individual is different. Some of the early signs that you may be suffering from post traumatic stress disorder include difficulty sleeping, nightmares, being easily startled, fear of driving, heart palpitations, feeling lightheaded, anxiety attacks, panic attacks, flashbacks, generalized anxiety, increased agitation, exaggerated startle response, feelings of isolation from others, and increased irritability.
Treatments and Therapies for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Medical treatments for PTSD include prolonged exposure therapy, cognitive processing therapy, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), and medications.
Specific Accidents and Injuries Leading to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
While accidents of any kind can cause stress and anxiety, even to a significant degree, in order to meet the criteria for PTSD, as set forth by the DSM-5, the accident must have resulted in serious injury or threat of death to you or the serious injury, threat of death, or actual death of a close family member or close friend. This may include, but is not limited to: an accident that results in a traumatic brain injury, spinal injury, loss of a limb, or disfigurement. It may also include an accident involving a flipped vehicle or one that requires extraction with the jaws of life.
Seeking Compensation for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in NJ
Financial recovery for your damages and medical bills is also possible when you experience post traumatic stress disorder after an event that was caused by the negligence of another party.
Current and future medical bills from PTSD treatment, temporary or permanent disability, and lost wages caused by PTSD are all compensable damages in a personal injury claim. These are damages that you can seek through an insurance claim or demand in a lawsuit against the party who negligently caused the event that led to your PTSD diagnosis.
PTSD is an injury just like a herniated disc; however, it can be a bit more difficult to calculate a valuation for your damages associated with this disorder. Furthermore, it can also be more difficult to fully document the extent of your condition, as compared to more easily observable injuries. However, with the help of an experienced personal injury lawyer, you can obtain the medical reports and expert opinions needed to meet your legal burden to prove PTSD in a personal injury case.
Necessary Elements to Prove Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for an Injury Lawsuit
In order to prove that you should be compensated for damages related to PTSD from an accident, you must first prove that the defendant negligently or recklessly caused your injuries. Most personal injury cases are based on a theory of negligence. Negligence claims are composed of four elements: duty, breach, causation, and damages.
To prevail in a lawsuit, you must prove that the defendant had a legal duty to conduct themselves according to a particular standard of care and that their actions deviated from this standard of care. In a motor vehicle accident, you must prove that the other driver’s actions fell below the standard of how a reasonably prudent driver would have acted under the same conditions.
Then, you must prove that this negligence was the actual cause of the accident. Finally, you must establish that you suffer or suffered from PTSD and that the accident, which was caused by the defendant, was the actual cause of your condition.
Count on Cohen & Riechelson for Your PTSD Injury Lawsuit in Mercer County and throughout New Jersey
If you or a loved one has suffered from post traumatic stress disorder due to a car accident, motorcycle accident, dog bite, workplace accident, slip and fall, other injury on someone else’s property, or similar traumatic incident that may be directly linked to the negligent actions or inaction of someone else, you may be entitled to monetary damages.
Prevailing in a claim seeking damages for PTSD after an accident is not easy but it is absolutely possible. With the help of a skilled and experienced personal injury lawyer who understands the elements of a strong injury claim and how to present compelling evidence to support your claim, you can receive the compensation you are entitled to.
Our competent and caring personal injury lawyers at Cohen & Riechelson can assist you with your lawsuit and guide you through the entire process. With over 50 years of experience handling personal injury litigation, our attorneys are ready to assist you in pursuing legal action against the person or company responsible for your emotional and psychological disabilities.
Our firm consistently and passionately assists injured clients and their loved ones in towns like Hamilton, East Windsor, Burlington, Princeton, Trenton, Mercer County and across New Jersey. For more information and to book a complimentary legal consultation, contact us today at (609) 528-2596 or online.