car accident

PTSD After A Car Accident: The “Invisible” Injuries That Can Ensue

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that may occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event, series of events or set of circumstances. A person may undergo this in an emotional, physically detrimental, or life-threatening manner, which can impact their mental, physical, social, and/or spiritual welfare.

People with PTSD have intense, disturbing thoughts and feelings related to their experience that last long after the traumatic event has occurred. They may relive the event through flashbacks or nightmares. They may feel sadness, fear or anger, and their feelings may lead them to separate from other people. People with PTSD may avoid situations or people that remind them of the traumatic event, and they may have strong negative reactions and be easily startled by something as ordinary as a loud noise or an accidental touch. PTSD can occur if you have been involved in a serious car accident.

According to the National Center for PTSD, about 6% of the population will experience PTSD at one point in their lives, and roughly 15 million adults have PTSD each year. Based on these statistics, it is no surprise there are several famous people with PTSD. For example, Tracy Morgan was involved in a 2014 car accident when his van was rear-ended by a Walmart tractor-trailer at high speeds. The crash not only left him with broken bones, but also with traumatic brain injury and PTSD. The PTSD was undoubtedly compounded by the fact that Morgan’s close friend died in this particular accident.

How a Car Accident Can Lead To PTSD

Car accidents can be traumatic events that can have profound physical, emotional, and psychological impacts. PTSD can result for a variety of reasons:

  • Perceived Threat to Life: Car accidents can be life-threatening, and the fear and adrenaline rush experienced during these moments can profoundly impact the brain.
  • Serious Injuries: Physical injuries can serve as constant reminders of the accident, leading to recurrent traumatic memories.
  • Witnessing Harm: Being right there to see others get hurt, especially loved ones, can cause significant distress.
  • Loss of Loved Ones: The death of a close friend or family member in an accident can understandably lead to a traumatic response.
  • Previous Traumas: Those who have experienced previous traumatic events might be more susceptible to developing PTSD following another trauma.
  • Feeling of Helplessness: The uncontrollable nature of an accident and feeling trapped can intensify traumatic reactions.

Remedies for PTSD After a Car Accident Besides Legal Ones

  • Professional Therapy: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is particularly effective for PTSD. This therapy helps patients recognize and change negative patterns of thinking and behavior.
  • EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing): This therapy involves processing traumatic memories while focusing on an external stimulus, usually guided by a therapist’s hand movements.
  • Medication: Antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications may be needed to help manage some of the symptoms.
  • Stay Connected: Speaking to loved ones about what you have been feeling and joining a support group can provide emotional support and understanding.
  • Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques: Meditation, deep breathing exercises, and progressive muscle relaxation can help to manage one’s anxiety.
  • Avoid Alcohol and Drugs: While some might be tempted to use these to cope, they can make the symptoms worse and delay recovery.
  • Routine: Maintaining a routine can provide a sense of normalcy and structure.
  • Educate Yourself: Understanding PTSD can make it seem less overwhelming.

Legal Damages You May Be Able To Recover For PTSD

If you have experienced PTSD or similar psychological injuries as a result of a car accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be eligible to receive compensation for your damages. Here are some of the types of damages you might be eligible to receive:

  • Medical Expenses: This can cover both past and future medical costs related to the accident. This would include costs associated with treating PTSD, such as professional therapy sessions and/or medications discussed above.
  • Pain and Suffering: PTSD can be an extremely debilitating condition. Victims may be able to receive compensation for the emotional and psychological pain associated with the disorder.
  • Lost Wages and Lost Earning Capacity: If your PTSD prevents you from working or limits your ability to earn as much as you did before the accident, you might be compensated for these economic losses.
  • Loss of Consortium: This refers to damages awarded for the detrimental effects an injury has on the relationship between the injured person and their spouse. It covers things like affection,  comfort, companionship, and sexual relations.
  • Loss of Enjoyment of Life: This is compensation for the decrease in an individual’s ability to enjoy the day-to-day activities they used to enjoy before the injury.
  • Punitive Damages: In some cases, if the behavior of the at-fault party was particularly reckless, punitive damages may be awarded to punish the defendant and to prevent similar behavior in the future. The case for punitive damages is harder to establish and is less common than other types of damages.


If you or someone you know may be suffering from PTSD after a car accident, it is foremost important to seek professional help for your well-being. Early intervention can make a significant difference in your recovery. It also is essential to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney if you believe you have suffered PTSD or any other injury as a result of a car accident. Our legal team has the resources to thoroughly investigate your claim and develop an effective strategy on your behalf. Contact Ceja Law Firm, PLLC as soon as possible to schedule your free initial consultation to discuss your case.