Woman discussing trauma with personal injury attorney

Can a Car Accident Cause PTSD?

Car accidents often result in serious injuries. However, these injuries aren’t just physical—they can have long-lasting mental effects as well. Many car accident victims develop post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”). PTSD can negatively affect an individual’s ability to function in his or her day-to-day life. In this article, we examine the following question: can a car accident cause PTSD? 

What Is PTSD?

PTSD can develop after a traumatic event. Any time a person witnesses or suffers through a life-threatening experience, such as a car accident, he or she runs this risk of developing PTSD. However, PTSD is different than the type of anxiety commonly experienced after an upsetting event. While anxiety can last a few hours or days after a traumatic event, PTSD tends to last much longer. 

Car Accident PTSD Symptoms

There are several common symptoms of PTSD. Some people develop severe cases of PTSD, while others only experience minor symptoms. Common PTSD symptoms include:

Nightmares: Following a car accident, some people experience vivid nightmares. After a PTSD nightmare, people often wake up shouting, shaking, or struggling. Over time, many people who experience PTSD nightmares begin to fear going to sleep, which can lead to additional problems. 

Flashbacks: Some people who are involved in serious car accidents later experience flashbacks. Reminders of the accident, such as driving past the scene of the accident and driving in similar weather, can trigger flashbacks. PTSD flashbacks can also occur with no identifiable trigger.  

Agitation or Irritability: Some people who suffer from PTSD become agitated or irritated more easily than they did prior to the car accident. 

Avoidance of Reminders: Another common PTSD symptom is the purposeful avoidance of reminders of the accident. Often, this is done in an attempt to avoid PTSD flashbacks. A person who suffers from PTSD after a car accident may choose to avoid the site of the accident, people from the accident scene, or even riding in cars.

Depression: Finally, depression is a common PTSD symptom. It can also trigger feelings of worthlessness or result in emotional numbness. With numbness, a PTSD sufferer blocks both positive and negative emotions in an attempt to prevent any future pain. 

West Virginia Personal Injury Attorneys 

If you are suffering from PTSD due to your involvement in an auto accident in West Virginia, you should immediately contact an experienced West Virginia car accident attorney to discuss your situation. An experienced West Virginia car accident attorney will examine the facts of your case and advise you on the proper course of action based on your unique situation. At Hewitt & Salvatore, our attorneys will treat your case as our top priority. With Hewitt & Salvatore in your corner, you can rest assured that we will do everything in our power to ensure that your claim is successful. Please contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.