The inside of a compact car after a severe car accident - airbags deployed and shattered windshield

This Is Why It’s Possible to Develop PTSD After a Car Accident

Even though they occur every day, car accidents can be very traumatic, stressful, frustrating, and painful experiences to endure. These feelings may be exacerbated even further if the accident happened through no fault of your own.

You may not think that this everyday occurrence can have such a strong potential for impact on accident victims...

Think again.

According to a study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), “Individuals who experience a serious motor vehicle accident are at increased risk for psychological problems, particularly Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.”

Here’s what you should know about the development of PTSD following a serious car accident:

Details About PTSD

PTSD is defined as “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.”

It is not fully understood why some people develop PTSD and not others. However, in order to be diagnosed with PTSD, you must have endured some sort of traumatic experience.

The following traumatic events tend to cause PTSD in certain individuals:

  • Physical, emotional, or sexual abuse
  • Combat experiences
  • Terrorist attacks
  • Natural disasters such as tornados, floods, earthquakes, or fires
  • Violent crimes (both experienced and witnessed)
  • Life-threatening accidents, both experienced and witnessed, such as:
    • Car accidents
    • Airplane crashes
    • Boating accidents

Symptoms of PTSD After a Car Crash

It is common for people who are in serious car accidents and develop PTSD to experience the following symptoms:

  • Psychologically re-experiencing the trauma
    • I.e. Intrusive thoughts about the accident or distressing dreams about the crash
  • Persistently avoiding thoughts or circumstances associated with the crash
    • I.e. Reluctance or refusal to drive or actively circumventing thoughts about the wreck
  • Numbing emotional responsiveness
    • I.e. Vast reduction or elimination of emotions or feeling disconnected from others
  • Elevated physical arousal
    • I.e. Becoming startled more easily, increased irritability, and sleep disturbances

How Often PTSD is Developed After Car Accidents

Approximately 25-33% of survivors of serious car accidents develop PTSD in at least the first 30 days following an accident.

According to a study published in PubMed, 7.4% of people who are involved in serious car accidents suffer from lifelong PTSD.

According to the same study, it is not only possible for people to develop PTSD due to car wrecks, but serious car accidents are the leading cause of PTSD. It is also interesting to note that in the study, young people showed the highest rates of PTSD.

Returning to the aforementioned NCBI study, it is estimated (conservatively) that anywhere between 2.5 to 7 million people are impacted by PTSD related to car accidents in the United States.

Chronic Pain is a Significant Factor of Car Accident-Related PTSD

Another study published in PubMed found that 69% of car accident victims who suffer from PTSD report experiencing chronic pain that can be attributed to their crash.

Additionally, it has been reported that this pain has caused the victims to suffer from any of the following:

  • Significant lifestyle limitations, impairment, or significant distress
  • Behavioral restrictions
  • Continued utilization of health care for pain relief
  • Consistent use of pain medication

At least 50% of accident survivors who experience chronic headaches and other types of pain have PTSD. Furthermore, high posttraumatic stress symptoms are often related to the following:

  • Physical impairment
  • Psychological distress
  • Maladaptive pain coping mechanisms

If you’ve been injured in a car accident through no fault of your own, you may be entitled to compensation. Our attorneys are highly skilled in this area of the law and have helped many others in similar situations. Let us see if we can help you, too.

Call us today at (800) 670-0567 to discuss the details of your case!